Half Moons Cookies

Upstate Utica NY is famous for these. Half Moons or as some refer to as Black and Whites, are what we call them, in Upstate.

 I grew up around fabulous bakeries in Utica, NY, some are still there and well known for these delicious beauties. Although no recipe as ever come close to our childhood memories, these will certainly put a smile on your face if you have had the pleasure of sampling some of their traditional half moon cookies in the Utica-Rome area of Upstate NY. Just coming back from there, I certainly had my fill of wonderful half moon cookies, and they were as usual, fantastic!

There is a definite story behind these. I actually got this recipe from a friend that had a bakery years and years ago, he cut it down after starting out with 25 lbs of flour, now long since gone.   

 I still will continue to make this recipe as it is one of the easiest and the closest to the bakery style version. 

They have been more than a just a cookie in our family . Our memories shared by this cookie are numerous.

 A round delicious cake like texture, with both chocolate and white frosting a perfect confection. 

A classic in Upstate NY, where you could find these just about at any Italian bakery around and oh so good!

 My favorite was Hemstroughts, Holland Farms (the Star Bakery a close second and then Holland Farms), they all had a great cake the frosting's were different. 

There were several in Rome NY that would be honorable mentions too.

Growing up in Utica/Rome area, it wouldn't be unusual to see these cookies at bake sales, house parties, bridal showers, school functions and through the years they have definitely become a Cookie Icon for those area's, it's their part of the history which makes them famous.

There have been many recipes I have also tried in the past and none have been close to our memories of these, but this one, tried and true, won't disappoint you.  Enjoy!

Half Moons Cookies

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup shortening

2 eggs

3 1/2 cups flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon pure vanilla

1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees using the middle rack. Grease a cookie sheet or line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Mix SUGAR AND SHORTENING BEAT UNTIL they are well combined will look grainy using an electric mixer. ADD the eggs beating through each one. Then add the flour alternating with milk, add vanilla, then add all the rest of the dry ingredients in a bowl mixed well.

Drop by heaping well rounded tablespoons on a greased cookie sheet, (make sure these are molded to be round.) Use a floured finger if you have too.

Bake on 350 degrees hot oven at least 3 inches apart so they don't touch when they expand cooking. Bake until slightly browned on the bottom but not too dark. This is the flat side you will frost.

Cool. Frost half with white frosting and half chocolate frosting or all dark chocolate for full moons on the flat side of this cookie.

You can use canned or make from scratch below. I highly recommend homemade.

Frosting Recipe:

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

add milk a tablespoon at a time until desired thickness enough to spread on cookie.

add 1 tablespoon shortening to keep it white and a little softer for spreading. This is for the vanilla side

For the chocolate frosting:

Repeat above ingredients for chocolate, but add 2 tablespoons of dry cocoa powder or a little more for darker chocolate and mix until smooth and spreadable.

Second variation:

Whipped Frosting:

(several bakeries made a fluffy whipped frosting like this one instead)

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup milk

Cook, stirring constantly, until pasty consistency. Cool. (Do not use this mixture until it is really cold).

In a medium size bowl beat the following two ingredients together

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Beat 4 minutes.


1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat 4 minutes.


Cooled flour mixture

Beat 4 minutes.

The more you beat, the better it is! Double the recipe for large 3 layer cake. Do not use with chocolate powder or make this flavored with chocolate.

For a festive change make your favorite cupcakes and decorate to the theme of the Holiday!

Printable Recipe


  1. Looks and sounds absolutely delicious!

    Delightful Bitefuls

  2. You can post this every year and I don't think I'll tire of it.

  3. I love black and white cookies. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  4. Hey Claudia, when I was a teenager, i worked at a Jewish bakery. We always had this type of cookie (they called them black & white cookies). They are delicious, and yours look extra yum! Thanks...

  5. Black and white cookies are such a treat! I wish I had one right now for breakfast...

  6. I've always wanted to make these and I have no idea why I have never gotten around to it. Yours look so delicious!

  7. Being from NY. You see these cookies all over the place... for some reason I remember them being called Joey's? I might need to whip up some of these for nostalgic reasons.

  8. I love that you did these as a drop cookie as opposed to a rolled and cut. I'm far too lazy for the rolling and cutting part. The cookies look beautiful.

  9. They were a staple in NY when I was a kid, but have gotten so hard to find. I guess I'll be making my own now.

  10. Very pretty and so simple too your recipe suggests. Thanks for sharing.

  11. I've never had one of these before! They look divine.

  12. Love the name of the cookies and they look delicious.

  13. Black and White cookies sing New York to me. Beautiful!

  14. Fantastic! Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode, "Can't we all just get along? LOOK TO THE COOKIE!" :) I'll get along with anyone with these in tow.

  15. what a wonderful cookie! I think a plate of these would go really good right now!

  16. all I need is a big glass of milk

  17. I looove this cookie.

    Always reminds me of Seinfeld. Hehe.

  18. If I ever visit NY, I will not leave until I track these down LOL They look gorgeous!! Thanks for sharing your recipe, which I've bookmarked :)

  19. We called them half moons and my old boss use to own Hemstroughts. When iZ worked for him at Met Life and made a giant cupcake cookie jar for him in ceramics I guess he finally put it to good use.

  20. I can't wait to make these! P&C in my hometown had the best ones, imo, back in the '80s. I just went to Corso's Bakery at the Fair and they made me want to eat a million of them. So glad I came across this. Thanks for posting!

  21. LOVE half moon cookies! I grew up in Binghamton but have lived on Long Island, NY for 25 years. Everyone calls them black and white cookies here so I had to google it today to see why I always called them half moon and then I found your recipe and I found my people! :) I will definitely make them soon! (Also, used to spend 1 week every summer at Sylvan Beach near Utica ...memories!)Thanks for the recipe.


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