Heavenly Half Moon Cookies – A Delicious Recipe

Are you searching for the perfect cookie recipe to impress your friends and family? Look no further than a classic New York favorite – Half Moon Cookies! These black-and-white treats are beloved for their fluffy cake-like texture and creamy frosting.

The origins of the Half Moon Cookie date back to upstate New York, where they were first sold at bakeries in Utica and Syracuse. The original recipe can be traced back to Hemstrought’s Bakery in Utica, which has been making these cookies since 1925.

But don’t worry if you’re not in upstate New York – this cookie recipe is easy to make at home with ingredients you likely already have on hand. With its chocolate and vanilla base, it’s a fan favorite among both kids and adults.

In this article, I will walk you through the steps needed to make these iconic cookies, as well as provide some tips and variations to help you tailor the recipe to your preferences. So, let’s dive into the world of Half Moon Cookies and whip up a batch together!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Half Moon Cookies
Half Moon Cookies

If you’re looking for a cookie recipe that’s a little bit different from the usual, you simply have to try these Half Moon Cookies. Hailing from upstate New York, these cake-like cookies are a beloved treat from the region. And it’s not hard to see why! Here are just a few reasons why I think you’ll fall in love with this recipe:

First of all, the black and white colors of these cookies give them an eye-catching and sophisticated look. They’re sure to impress at any occasion, be it a potluck or a fancy dinner party.

But beyond their stunning appearance, these Half Moon Cookies deliver on taste as well. The fluffy cake base is satisfyingly moist and tender, and it pairs perfectly with the frosted vanilla buttercream and/or chocolate frosting on top. When you take a bite of one of these cookies, you’ll get alternating bites of soft vanilla and chocolate flavors that will excite your taste buds.

Another reason why I love this recipe is because it offers plenty of room for personalization – it’s easy to change the frosting or even the type of cake mix to create entirely different variations. You could try making chocolate Half Moon Cookies by simply adding some cocoa powder to the mix, for example.

Lastly, this recipe is surprisingly easy to make – despite its polished appearance! It requires minimal ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry, and it comes together quickly without any complicated steps or techniques. So if you’re looking for something impressive yet simple, Half Moon Cookies are definitely the way to go.

In conclusion, if you want a cookie recipe that looks beautiful and tastes even better, Half Moon Cookies should be next on your list. Not only do they offer a unique twist on traditional cookies, but they’re also versatile and easy to make.

Ingredient List

 These Half Moon Cookies are the perfect treat for any occasion!
These Half Moon Cookies are the perfect treat for any occasion!

To make these Half Moon Cookies, gather the following ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 1 and ¾ cups of all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp of baking powder
  • ½ tsp of baking soda
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • ½ cup of shortening or unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 1 tsp of white or apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp of vanilla extract

For the black and white icing:

  • 1 and ¼ cups of confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tbsp of hot water
  • a pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp of vanilla extract
  • (Optional) unsweetened Cocoa Powder

The Recipe How-To

 Get ready to bite into a delightful mix of cakey, chocolatey, and lemony flavors!
Get ready to bite into a delightful mix of cakey, chocolatey, and lemony flavors!

Mixing the Ingredients

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together 1 cup of softened unsalted butter and 2 cups of granulated sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together 4 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 tsp of baking powder, and ½ tsp of salt.
  5. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with 1 cup of milk.
  6. Mix until the batter is smooth.
  7. Roll tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto ungreased baking sheets about 2 inches apart.

Baking and Frosting

  1. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown on the bottom.
  2. Remove from the oven and let cookies cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring them to wire racks.
  3. To make frosting, mix together in a bowl 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar, ⅓ cup of shortening, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, and 3 tbsp of hot water until smooth.
  4. Divide the frosting into half and color one half with black food coloring.
  5. Frost half of each cookie with vanilla frosting and the other half with black frosting to create distinctive “half-moon” cookie shape.
  6. Let cookies sit for at least an hour to allow the frosting to set.

Enjoy your delicious homemade Half Moon Cookies!

Substitutions and Variations

 These cookies are so easy to make; you'll be wondering why you haven't made them before!
These cookies are so easy to make; you’ll be wondering why you haven’t made them before!

If you’re looking to switch things up with your half moon cookies, there are a few substitutions and variations you can try.

For a chocolate twist on the classic black and white cookie, replace half of the vanilla cake base with cocoa powder. This will give you a rich, chocolatey half moon cookie that pairs perfectly with the sweet vanilla icing.

If you prefer a fluffier cake-like cookie, add an extra teaspoon of baking powder to the recipe. You can also use cake mix instead of all-purpose flour for an even softer texture.

For a tangy twist on the classic recipe, substitute the vinegar in the recipe with lemon juice. This will give your cookies a subtle citrus flavor that complements the sweetness of the icing.

If you want to experiment with different frosting flavors, consider making a fluffy vanilla buttercream or a chocolate frosting to top your half moons. You can also add sprinkles or colorful decorations to make them more festive for special occasions.

Lastly, if you’re short on time, consider buying pre-made cookie dough from your local bakery or grocery store. Just be sure to follow the baking instructions carefully to ensure your half moon cookies come out perfectly every time.

The possibilities for customization with this classic New York recipe are endless. No matter which variation you choose, these half moon cookies are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.

Serving and Pairing

 The combination of lemon and chocolate is a match made in cookie heaven.
The combination of lemon and chocolate is a match made in cookie heaven.

Half moon cookies are a classic dessert in upstate New York, particularly Utica. They’re delicious on their own or paired with a cup of coffee, tea, or milk. These iconic black-and-white cookies are perfect for any occasion, from a casual afternoon snack to a formal dinner party dessert.

When serving half moon cookies, be sure to select a platter that will showcase their unique and delicious appearance. The black-and-white frosting is striking against the cake-like cookie base common in upstate NY.

As for pairings, half moon cookies pair well with hot beverages like coffee or tea. On a hot day, lemonade or iced tea make ideal refreshments when accompanied by these beloved treats. For those who enjoy adventurous combinations, try pairing them alongside a dish of chocolate ice cream or vanilla bean ice cream layers. You could also serve them as a side with other baked goods at brunch or dinner parties.

No matter how you choose to serve your half moon cookies, your guests will be sure to enjoy biting into the fluffy cake-like cookie topped with half chocolate and half vanilla frosting.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 These Half Moon Cookies are sure to win over even the pickiest eaters!
These Half Moon Cookies are sure to win over even the pickiest eaters!

One of the best things about Half Moon Cookies is that they can be easily made in advance and stored or reheated as needed. These cookies are perfect for busy schedules or impromptu gatherings, and you won’t have to worry about them ever going stale because they always stay soft and fluffy.

To make ahead, simply prepare the cookie dough as directed in the recipe and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before baking. This will help the flavors develop and also make the dough easier to handle when rolling into balls. Once baked, Half Moon Cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to five days.

If you’re looking to extend the shelf life of these cookies even further, you can freeze them for up to two months. To do so, wait until the cookies have cooled completely before wrapping them individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. You can then store them in a freezer-safe container or bag.

When it comes time to enjoy your frozen cookies, simply remove them from the freezer and let them thaw at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. You can also reheat them in a preheated oven at 350°F (180°C) for five minutes or until warm.

Overall, Half Moon Cookies are a versatile and delicious treat that can be enjoyed at any time. Whether you’re making them ahead of time for convenience or freezing them for long-term storage, these cookies are sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face.

Tips for Perfect Results

 A cookie that's soft on one side and crunchy on the other? Yes, please!
A cookie that’s soft on one side and crunchy on the other? Yes, please!

Half moon cookies are not an easy bake. That’s why it’s essential to have some tips to attain the perfect half-moon shape, the classic cake-like consistency, and avoid any runny icing to have an Instagram-worthy result. Here are my tips for perfect half-moon cookies:

First, ensure that you use unsalted butter or shortening in the place of salted butter because it contains more water than unsalted butter. The excess moisture from salted butter can compromise the texture of your cookies and also make them overly greasy.

Secondly, once you mix your dry mixture and liquid ingredients, avoid overmixing your dough. Overmixing results in a tough cookie that is hard to chew. Hence, mix just until no streaks of flour remain visible.

Thirdly, while shaping the cookie halves, always make sure that they are evenly sized and shaped before placing them on the baking sheet. A lopsided half-moon will result in uneven baking and make it difficult to match them after frosting.

Fourthly, be patient when baking your cookies; do not open the oven every so often as this will cause them to deflate or even crack. Instead, wait until they’re lightly golden, then check on them after two minutes interval until you notice a slight lift around their edges.

Lastly, make sure that the frosting is cool enough before pouring it on top of the cookies to avoid having a runny icing or cake absorbed with frosting. Also, for a professional finishing touch on your chocolate and white frosting combination solution when frosting half-moon cookies is properly called “not-quite-perfect.”


Now that we have gone through the recipe steps, substitutions and variations, serving and pairing, make-ahead, storing, and reheating suggestions as well as tips for a perfect result. It is now time to address some burning questions you may have about the half-moon cookies. In this section, we will tackle some frequently asked questions to make sure you have everything you need to create the perfect New York-style half-moon cookie.

What are half-moon cookies made of?

One of the key ingredients for making half moon cookies is shortening, which helps the cookies to rise more and acquire a softer texture. As a crucial aspect of the recipe, I always prefer to use shortening. In addition to shortening, we also need other baking staples such as sugar, eggs, baking powder, baking soda, salt, vanilla extract, and flour to make these delicious cookies. These ingredients are essential for the recipe and come together to make a delectable treat.

What is the difference between half-moon and black and white cookies?

Two popular types of cookies have distinct differences in their appearance, frosting, and the regions in which they are common. While black-and-white cookies present as flat with fondant or royal icing on a dense cake base and are popular in the New York metropolitan area, half-moon cookies have a slightly dome-shaped, convex appearance with frosting on a fluffy angel cake base and are commonly found in Central New York and Boston, Massachusetts.

Where did half-moon cookies originate?

The origins of the cookie are disputed, with some attributing its creation to Glaser’s Bake Shop, founded by Bavarian immigrants in Manhattan in 1902. Others argue that the cookie was first served as “half-moon” cookies at Hemstrought’s Bakery in Utica, New York. Regardless of its origins, the cookie has become a beloved classic in American baking.

What’s the deal with black and white cookies?

Even before black-and-white cookies gained popularity as a symbol of racial unity, they were a favorite of my grandmother Ella. She would always purchase them from the local kosher bakery in Flatbush, along with other baked goods like mandelbrot and babka.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, Half Moon Cookies are a delightful treat that can be enjoyed on any occasion. This recipe is not only easy to prepare but also versatile that allows for numerous substitutions and variations. The black and white cookie originated in upstate New York, and since its inception, it has become a beloved snack all around the country. I highly recommend this recipe to anyone who loves fluffy cake-like cookies and wants to try an iconic New York dessert.

So, if you want to impress your guests or indulge in this classic cookie recipe, go ahead and give it a try! You can customize these cookies by frosting them with either chocolate or vanilla buttercream or try both flavors for a perfect balance. Plus, these cookies are perfect alongside a cup of tea or coffee.

By following these instructions and tips, you can prepare the most delicious Half Moon Cookies ever. Don’t forget to store them properly so you can enjoy these treats for days. Whether you are planning a party or just wanting to satisfy your sweet cravings, this cookie recipe is sure to impress everyone who takes a bite.

In conclusion, Half Moon Cookies offer an easy-to-make recipe with delicious results. With numerous customization options available, there’s no excuse not to try these fantastic cookies today! So what are you waiting for? Get baking!

Half Moon Cookies

Half Moon Cookies Recipe

I have not tried this recipe. I got it from Today's Recipe. Submitted by: Diana E. With high school and college graduations taking place this is the perfect recipe for serving at your graduate's party. These cookies can be customized with the graduate's school colors -- half moon cookies don't have to be black and white anymore!
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: < 30 Mins, Cookie and Brownie, Dessert, Drop Cookies, Easy, Low Protein
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Calories: 1321.3kcal



  • 1 cup milk, plus
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 dash salt
  • water
  • icing, colors*


  • 2 tablespoons baking cocoa, to make chocolate cookies


  • Cookies:
  • Mix the milk and vinegar together first and then set aside while you get the rest of the ingredients together.
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and the baking cocoa (optional). Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together the shortening and the eggs. Add the vanilla and then slowly add in the sugar. Mix well. Slowly (and carefully) add in about 1/3 of the flour mixture. Next, add in the milk. Continue adding the flour mixture and mix well.
  • The cookie dough should be placed on the cookie sheet in about 1-2 tablespoons rounded amounts. I like to use a large ice cream
  • scoop for these cookies. You then get perfect circles and equal amounts every time. Place at least 4 inches apart as the cookies will spread. Use either a non-stick cookie sheet or grease a baking pan to bake the cookies on.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them set for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets. Then, remove the cookies from the cookie sheets and place, inverted, on a cooling rack.
  • After they are completely cool, frost the flat bottoms of the cookies with half of one color and half of another. Do not overlap the colors. Instead let the two colors meet in the middle of the cookie.
  • Frosting:
  • Cream together the shortening, vanilla, and about 2 tablespoons of water in a large mixing bowl. Add in the confectionary sugar slowly. Add water, a teaspoon at a time, to reach desired consistency. The frosting should be thinned just enough to make it easy to.
  • spread. Allow to mix at medium speed for 5
  • minutes. This will ensure a smooth, creamy frosting that will rival any frosting that you might taste in a bakery.
  • Place half of the frosting in a second bowl and then color the two frostings the needed colors.
  • Tips:
  • For brown frosting: Add baking cocoa to the frosting when you add the confectionary sugar to the mixing bowl.
  • For black frosting: start with chocolate frosting. It will save you adding a lot of black coloring.
  • If you are using Wilton colors, realize that the colors will darken within a few hours as they dry. Therefore, make the colors
  • slightly lighter than you want them to be.
  • Be sure to make enough colored frosting for as many cookies as you will be making. It's almost impossible to match a second batch of colored frosting exactly to the first.
  • * I prefer to use Wilton icing colors. They are concentrated and will not make your frosting too liquidy. Plus, they come in
  • many different colors. You can find Wilton colors in any store that carries cake decorating products. If you would like though you can use the liquid colors that.
  • you find at the grocery store.
  • Note: If you will not be needing white frosting you can use 1/2 cup of shortening and 1/2 cup of butter. By doing so, the
  • frosting will be slightly yellow in color.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 487g | Calories: 1321.3kcal | Carbohydrates: 180.8g | Protein: 10.2g | Fat: 63.8g | Saturated Fat: 16.6g | Cholesterol: 76.2mg | Sodium: 535.8mg | Fiber: 2.3g | Sugar: 128.9g

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