The Curious Coconut / TheCuriousCoconut.com

NYC Black and White Cookies (Paleo, Vegan, AIP option)

This recipe is sponsored by Otto's Cassava Flour. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by my partnership with this brand. 

These NYC style black and white cookies are made with #Paleo and #vegan ingredients with an #AIP option and have a soft, cake-like base with fluffy chocolate and vanilla frosting on top!  TheCuriousCoconut.com

These NYC style black and white cookies are made with #Paleo and #vegan ingredients with an #AIP option and have a soft, cake-like base with fluffy chocolate and vanilla frosting on top! TheCuriousCoconut.com

Black and white cookies, also known as half moon cookies, are one of those quintessential NYC foods that people get nostalgic for after leaving the city. My husband Andy is one of those people, and since we generally always eat gluten-free and 80/20 Paleo, he's asked me to recreate a long list of other such quintessential NYC foods as Paleo (and I strive for AIP whenever possible). You can find other recipes in this series here

big Paleo black and white cookie

Andy told me that when you buy black and white cookies fresh from a bakery in NYC that they are very large (as big as your hand), uniquely soft and cake-like, and covered in fluffy chocolate and vanilla frosting similar to cake frosting. That is considered the traditional way to top these cookies, since that's how they were made when they were invented in the early 1900s.  

But some bakeries today will use a thin icing (typically with a corn syrup base, ick) or fondant to make them shelf stable and easy to package in plastic and ship around the country. Obviously I wanted to adhere to the original style with a fluffy cake-style frosting for this recipe!

cake-like Paleo black and white cookie

Glaser's Bake Shop in Manhattan, which opened in 1902, is credited with creating the black and white cookie, but the exact history is uncertain (you can read more at Wikipeida). But you can find black and white cookies all over the city!

The cookie itself can be completely plain or have a faint lemon flavor from a little fresh lemon juice. 

enjoy a black and white cookie with coffee

My husband reminisced about walking around Lower Manhattan and being able to walk into one of any number of bakeries to recharge with a cup of coffee and a giant black and white cookie. One of the things he loved about these cookies is that they are so big that they are a satisfying treat. 

They force you to slow down amidst the hectic fast pace of NYC and savor something special. It's completely different from eating a pile of small cookies, which are easy to munch through too quickly. 

I have to be honest, I never had the pleasure of eating a black and white cookie when I visited NYC as a gluten eater. But gosh, y'all, I am not exaggerating when I say that this is my favorite Paleo dessert recipe. 

otto's cassava flour for Paleo and AIP baking

Like many of my favorite Paleo recipes, this one is made using Otto's Cassava Flour, which is my go-to whenever I want to recreate a dish as Paleo or AIP with the most authentic flavor and texture possible. Check out my other recipes using it here

Paleo Baking With Cassava Flour

I've talked about cassava flour many times before, but if this is your first exposure to it I'll give you a quick run down. 

Cassava flour is made from the yuca root. It gets a little confusing because yuca (YOU-kuh, not yucca which is a type of agave and pronounced YUCK-uh) goes by many names depending on the country. It may also be called cassava, manioc, mandioca, or Brazilian arrowroot (even though it is not related to actual arrowroot that the starch is made from). 

Whatever name you call it, it is made from the Manihot esculenta root. Cassava flour is the whole root, dried and ground into a flour. This is in contrast to tapioca starch, which is pure starch extracted from the same root. 

You cannot substitute tapioca starch for cassava flour. Your recipe will fail and you will be sad! That would be like trying to substitute corn starch for cornmeal. 

It gets even more confusing because some Latin American brands of tapioca starch label their products as cassava flour or yuca flour. Tapioca starch is bright white and has a squeaky feeling when you rub it between your fingers. You can feel that squeakiness even when it is in the bag. 

Cassava flour on the other hand is not pure white and has a texture very very similar to white flour made from wheat. The difference between the flour and starch is very obvious when you look at them side by side. 

One of the things that I love about Otto's cassava flour is that you can often use it all by itself to make Paleo and AIP baked goods. There is no need for a complicated gluten-free flour blend. 

That makes it easier for me to develop recipes, easier for you to cook them, and makes recipes more foolproof since the more things you have to measure, the easier it is to make a mistake and have a recipe fail. 

Paleo black and white cookies with otto's cassava flour

Measuring by Weight vs Volume

I have extensive Paleo/AIP baking experience and I used to stubbornly measure my flours by volume (e.g. 1 cup). If I have learned anything in 6 years of blogging it is that you really, really, really need to measure by weight instead since it is accurate and reproducible. Measuring by volume is NOT accurate, and for baked goods accuracy is crucial since they're basically little chemistry experiments in your kitchen.

Many factors affect the amount of flour that you can fit into a specific volume. If you dig a measuring scoop into a bag of Otto's you'll probably have about twice as much flour as compared to if you sifted the flour and used a spoon to drop it into the scoop. Try it yourself and you'll see!

This is the kitchen scale that I have used for the last 4 years, but there are so many other options on Amazon, some are less expensive. It is a crucial piece of kitchen equipment if you want to be a successful Paleo baker! And it will surely save you money by preventing failed recipes and wasted ingredients. 

If you must measure by volume, then please first sift the Otto's cassava flour then use a spoon to scoop and drop the flour into your measuring cup. Then, sweep the back of a knife across the top of the measuring scoop to level the flour. 

otto's cassava flour black and white cookies (Paleo, AIP, vegan)

Otto's Cassava Flour Coupon Code

To celebrate our partnership, Otto's Cassava Flour is offering my audience a special 10% off coupon code valid 4/22 - 4/30 only. 

Just use the code "CURIOUSCOCONUT" at checkout for your discount!

Paleo NYC black and white cookies with Otto's cassava flour

Paleo Black and White Cookie Recipe Notes

Adjust the sugar amount to your preference. I like a less sweet cookie and a very dark chocolate frosting, but you are free to add extra sweetener if that's how you prefer it! 

Watch the video so you can see the correct dough texture. It's wet but not runny, and you can work it into a cookie shape without it sticking to your hands. 

Store leftovers in a covered container. Eat within 2-3 days (if you can hang on to them that long!)

Unrefined sweeteners aren't supposed to be white. I am pretty happy with the faint cream color of the vanilla frosting, but please remember that pure white frosting is made from using white, refined sugar. If you sub another unrefined sweetener the color will darken even more, but it is purely an aesthetic issue. 

Look for sustainable, orangutan-safe palm shortening. I use Spectrum brand when I need a white shortening (which is available at most mainstream grocery stores now, by the way), but I also love the Nutiva shortening (however it is orange so not great for this recipe, unless you don't mind the vanilla frosting being orange!)

Make your own Paleo and AIP baking powder: use 2 parts cream of tartar to 1 part baking soda. 

Traditionally you frost the bottom, not the top of the cookie. That's because the bottom comes out perfectly flat, adding to the aesthetic of the cookie. These bake up pretty smooth and flat on top, too, so it's not totally necessary. 

Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee for the full experience. I am thrilled to learn that I tolerate local Memphis specialty coffee roaster Vice & Virtue brand in small doses! 

Recommended Tools & Ingredients

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NYC black and white cookies (Paleo, vegan, AIP)
Paleo NYC black and white cookies

NYC Black and White Cookies (Paleo, Vegan, AIP option)

Amanda Torres @ TheCuriousCoconut.com

Published 04/22/2018

Black and white cookies are a quintessential NYC food. This Paleo and vegan version with an AIP option features an authentic soft cake-like cookie with fluffy, smooth chocolate and vanilla frostings for the perfect dessert experience!


For the cookies
  • 180 grams Otto's Cassava Flour (about 1.5 cups sifted, scooped, leveled flour - NOT RECOMMENDED TO MEASURE BY VOLUME)
  • 3/4 tsp (3 grams) baking powder (see note above for DIY homemade)
  • 3/4 tsp (3 grams) baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp (6 grams) unrefined salt
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp maple sugar (can omit the 2 TB for a less sweet cookie)
  • 1/2 cup sustainable palm shortening
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
For the Chocolate Frosting
  • 3 tbsp sustainable palm shortening
  • 1 tbsp raw white honey or maple sugar (you can add up to 2 tbsp extra for a sweeter frosting)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder (sub roasted carob powder for AIP)
For the Vanilla Frosting
  • 3 tbsp sustainable palm shortening
  • 1 tbsp raw white honey or maple sugar (you can add up to 2 tbsp extra for a sweeter frosting)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Add the Otto's casava flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a medium mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, cream together the sugar and shortening with a fork (I found an electric mixer to be overkill). Next, add the coconut milk, vanilla, and lemon juice and stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches, stirring thoroughly between each addition until a smooth dough forms.
  3. Watch the video to see the correct dough texture. Divide dough into 6 portions, about a heaping 1/4 cup each (you can use a measuring scoop, but the dough will stick to the cup). Use your hands to shape each portion into a cookie shape and arrange on a light colored baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake at 350F for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry.
  5. While the cookies are baking, make the frostings in two separate bowls. Simply combine all ingredients for each frosting and mix well (I found it easy to use a small spatula to mix evenly). For the chocolate frosting, you may add up to 2 tbsp additional sweetener if you prefer a sweeter chocolate frosting. I prefer the very dark chocolate flavor as written.
  6. Allow the cookies to cool completely on a wire rack before applying the frosting, otherwise it will melt. You can use a small spatula, cake frosting tool, or a plain old butter knife to frost the cookies. Apply the vanilla to one half and the chocolate to the other. Some people prefer there to be a bit more chocolate frosting on each cookie, so feel free to do that if you like!
  7. Decide how you're going to eat the cookie: vanilla first, then chocolate? Take a bite down the middle? Alternate sides? It's fun to experiment! Enjoy within 2-3 days and store leftovers in a covered container.

Yield: 6 cookies

Prep Time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.

Cook time: 00 hrs. 20 mins.

Total time: 30 mins.

Tags: Paleo, AIP, NYC food, black and white cookies, chocolate, vanilla, cookies, frosting

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