Half Moon Cookies

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Whether you're a fan of chocolate of white half-moon cookies, I have both recipes right here for you.

If you grew up in Utica New York like I did, you sure know what kind of cookies these are, soft, delicious and frosted rounds.

You also know that Utica is famous for Tomato Pie, Italian Greens, Italian Lemon Ice, Pizza Fritta, Chicken Riggies, Manny's Cheesecake, Oscugnizzo Pizza, and Rosato Chocolate Cookies.

If you are looking for a recipe on how to make a copycat half-moon cookie from Upstate New York, you came to the right blog!

Upstate Utica NY is famous for these and where I grew up.

Half Moons or as some other states and areas, refer to them as (Black and Whites), but not as we call them half-moons period, in Upstate Utica, New York.

The origin of the black-and-white cookie in New York City is commonly traced to Glaser's Bake Shop in Yorkville, founded in 1902 by Bavarian immigrants.

Half-moon cookies, however, can be traced to Hemstrought's Bakery in Utica, New York, around 1925.

There isn't one time in my childhood anyone ever called these black and whites, and we still don't.

Sure there is always a debate about something, but I can tell you after over 30 + years of making this cookie recipe, you are going to smile with a cherished memory if you live anywhere near Utica.

These half-moons are fabulous!

These are half moon vanilla cookies made with two kinds of frosting chocolate and vanilla frosted.

So Many Varieties in Local Bakeries

When I was growing up in Utica, New York, I remember vanilla cookie half-moons, later came chocolate cookie then all kinds of topping and flavors came out over the year.

I have made all white frosted with coconut, jelly and coconut, milk chocolate frosted and white frosting. Dark chocolate frosting and white frosting and even peanut butter frosted!

Hemstrought's was the go-to bakery,  Star bakery and when we would have a chance to drive to New York Mills, Holland Farms had the biggest variety and still do to date.

For a short while when I worked in the Sangertown Square Mall, Hemstroughts had a small section of a bakery I would go to every morning on my break from Sears that I worked at for coffee and a half-moon cookie!

These are half moon vanilla cookies made with two kinds of frosting chocolate and vanilla frosted.

Home Town Best Cookies Ever!

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 cookies will certainly put a smile on your face.

These are half moon vanilla cookies made with two kinds of frosting chocolate and vanilla frosted.

A Pit Stop Every Time

Whenever you move away from home, you always have to go back for visit to those childhood memory foods, this is one of them for me.

If you have had the pleasure of sampling some of their traditional half-moon cookies in the Utica-Rome area in Upstate NY, you will go back again for sure.

My trip home wouldn't be complete without stopping by those local fantastic bakeries at home.

These are half moon vanilla cookies made with two kinds of frosting chocolate and vanilla frosted.

Really a Simple Recipe

My recipe is a simple vanilla cookie base or chocolate.

They are easy to make and fun to decorate.

Get the kids involved they will love helping out too!

These are half moon vanilla cookies made with two kinds of frosting chocolate and vanilla frosted.

The Batter Is Very Thick

The batter is a sweet vanilla cookie dough or chocolate.

It's thick and holds it's shaped very well while baking to make a perfect circle.

These are half moon vanilla cookies made with two kinds of frosting chocolate and vanilla frosted.

Baking The Cookies

I have always used parchment paper to bake them on, then invested in the Silpat mat and they perfectly brown and cook evenly either way.

The cookie sheets tend to over-brown the bottoms and get crispy, which isn't the way they should be.

These are half moon vanilla cookies made with two kinds of frosting chocolate and vanilla frosted.

Chocolate or Vanilla?

Now, this is a matter of preference!

My dad only likes the vanilla ones with jelly, coconut, and white frosting.

The rest of the family wanted a full chocolate moon meaning all chocolate frosting on chocolate cake cookies!

There is no right or wrong, bakeries in Utica N.Y., made all different kinds, chocolate, vanilla, frosted, with jam, assorted flavored frostings.

Many half moons can be tinted to whatever holiday theme or event is current.

Orange for Halloween, red, and green for Christmas, just to name a few.

these are baked chocolate half moon cookies cooling

The Cookie

Honestly, the cookie itself is delicious plain with nothing on it!

I love the delicious cake-like vanilla batter the best.

Chocolate is the most popular sold there in my hometown according to polls taken.

These are half moon vanilla cookies made with two kinds of frosting chocolate and vanilla frosted.

Making Memories

This recipe makes the best memories in the kitchen.

Childhood memories are just the best, I made them with my mom and now with my kids when they were little.

They also loved decorating them with sprinkles, crushed favorite candy bars and candy corn around Halloween.

Cookies and kids go famously together, this is the best place to start with traditions, especially if you were born and raised in Utica.

Now they are both grown and both sons will pass on the same tradition to their family.

My Dad's favorite below was always with raspberry jam and shredded coconut on a vanilla half-moon cookie.

This is a vanilla half moon cookie with raspberry jam and shredded coconut on top

Original Cookies

The icing is always fluffy not smooth.

Everyone seems to make them different don't be fooled by the imitation boxed kind.

I have seen those store-bought ones shown below with smooth icing, not authentic!

These are called half moon cookies.  this is more a black and white as the frosting is smooth. The cookies are frosted half white and half chocolate frosting. . These are famous in Utica New York bakeries and a local cookie there.

Utica Style

Fluffy white frosting and a delicious chocolate fudge icing are always on the best bakery half-moons, so if you see smooth icing, that's not how they should look.

Again, I will stress however, everyone is different on what they not only call these (they're not black and whites!) to how the frosting should be.

This is a copycat version of my hometown and not of supermarket brands.

this is fluffy white frosting

Black and Whites?

I had never heard the term Black and White Cookies when I lived in Upstate New York. They were only called Half Moons there.

When I moved to Florida, I saw that some of our local grocery stores had half-moon cookies, (not good at all or like my hometown version).

That is the first time I ever heard them called black and white cookies.

These are half moon vanilla cookies made with two kinds of frosting chocolate and vanilla frosted.

My Hometown Story

There is a definite story behind these.

I actually got this recipe from a friend that had worked in the local bakery years and years ago, he cut it down after starting out with 25 lbs of flour, now long since gone and I still treasure his recipe.

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 just a cookie in our family. Our memories shared by this cookie are numerous.

These are half moon vanilla cookies made with two kinds of frosting chocolate and vanilla frosted.

Ingredients You will Need for Half-Moon Cookies

Vanilla Half Moons

  • sugar
  • shortening
  • eggs
  • flour
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • pure vanilla
  • milk
  • Chocolate Half Moons
  • flour
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • sugar
  • butter softened
  • cocoa sifted
  • salt
  • eggs
  • vanilla extract
  • milk

chocolate raw half moon batter on a silipat mat

Take You Pick

Chocolate is usually the number 1 most asked for half-moon cookie.

I personally like the vanilla and can change the topping and frosting, either one you love is right here.

So what are you waiting for?

Let's bake!

chocolate cookies with vanilla icing and chocolate icing frosting in half of each color

chocolate half moon batter

These Freeze Well

I know they some times make more than you need.

Just freeze them on a cookie sheet, stack with wax paper when frozen in between and take out as needed.

Always frost them freshly out the of the freezer, it prevents crumbs!

These are half moon vanilla cookies made with two kinds of frosting chocolate and vanilla frosted.

Utica New York Still has the best half moons!

Growing up in the Utica/Rome area, it wouldn't be unusual to see these cookies at every bake sales, house parties, bridal showers, school functions.

Through the years they have definitely have become a famous Cookie Icon for those area's, it's their part of the history which is known in every household.

This recipe is tried and true, won't disappoint you.

chocolate frosting in one white bowl and the other is vanilla white frosting in the white ramekin bowl

Half Moon Cookies Pin for later

Tips for Best Results

  • Cream the sugar and shortening together with a mix and the rest by hand
  • Always use homemade frosting recipes
  • Bake on parchment
  • Use an ice cream scoop for uniformity
  • Don't overbeat the cookie dough
  • Don't overbake the cookies

This is chocolate homemade frosting to frost half moon cookies on one side

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Chicken Riggie Fest
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Italian Lemon Ice
Pizza Fritte Feast Fried Dough

Chocolate and Vanilla cookies frosted with vanilla on one side and chocolate icing on the other called half moon cookies famous in Upstate Utica, New York bakeries

half moon cookies, black and white cookies, Utica Bakery cookies, cookies from Utica, Vanilla cookies, chocolate cookies
cookies, desserts
Italian, American
Yield: 12

Half Moon Cookies

prep time: 8 min cook time: 12 min total time: 20 mins
These recipes for half-moons are my childhood favorite cookies. The cookie is soft and sweet with chocolate and vanilla icing on top.


  • Vanilla Half Moons
  • 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
  • For the Chocolate Lovers
  • Chocolate Half Moons
  • 3 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cup sugar
  • 16 tablespoons butter softened
  • 3/4 cup cocoa, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • Both recipes should proceed with the same instructions just different ingredients
  • you can use these frosting recipes for both vanilla and chocolate half-moon cookies however I also will have other variations in the instructions for more frosting recipes 
  • Dark Chocolate Frosting
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons butter softened
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/4 cup milk or more
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 7 tablespoons milk or more until you reach desired consistency
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees using the middle rack. Grease a cookie sheet or line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or use a Silpat mat.
  2. Mix sugar and the shortening with a hand mixer until they are well combined. This will look grainy using an electric mixer.
  3. Add the eggs mixing each one by hand.
  4. Then add the flour alternating with milk, add vanilla, then add all the rest of the dry ingredients in a bowl mix well. Overbeating this will result in a tough cookie and not soft and moist.
  5. Drop using an ice cream scoop or 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 to round them properly.
  6. 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.
  7. Around 8 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake.
  8. Cool and frost the FLAT side of the cookies.
  9. Frosting Recipe:
  10. Vanilla Basic Recipe mix all the ingredients together until smooth, add more milk if too thick.
  11. Chocolate frosting: mix all the ingredients listed for chocolate frosting above and mix until smooth, add more milk if too thick.
  12. Second variation:
  13. Whipped Cream Frosting:
  14. (several bakeries make a cooked whipped frosting like this one instead this is vanilla only)
  15. 2 tablespoons flour
  16. 1/2 cup milk
  17. Cook, stirring constantly, until pasty consistency. Cool. (Do not use this mixture until it is really cold).
  18. In a medium-size, bowl beat the following two ingredients together
  19. 1/2 cup shortening
  20. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  21. Beat 4 minutes.
  22. Add
  23. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  24. Beat 4 minutes.
  25. Add
  26. Cooled flour mixture
  27. Beat 4 minutes.
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Created using The Recipes Generator

Half Moon Cookies Pin for later

These are half moon vanilla cookies made with two kinds of frosting chocolate and vanilla frosted.

More Hometown Treats from Utica New York!

New York Style Pusties

Almond Paste Cafe Cookies

Rosato Cookies

These are half moon vanilla cookies made with two kinds of frosting chocolate and vanilla frosted.

Disclosure: This recipe was originally shared in 2009. It was edited and re-published in 2020


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

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

  3. 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...

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

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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

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

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

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

  13. 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.

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

  15. all I need is a big glass of milk

  16. I looove this cookie.

    Always reminds me of Seinfeld. Hehe.

  17. 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 :)

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. Hemstrought`s are the best. Is it true their chocolate frosting recipe is patented? My mother mentioned that when I was very young, and for some reason I never forgot the mention-

  22. Yummy! Ready for the cookie season :-))

  23. When making these larger on a pizza pan, is the baking time changed? Also, how much batter do you use on a pizza pan?

    1. The bakeries used a 12 inch pan and used a toothpick in center to check whem done

  24. OMG I have been searching for this recipe, this specific recipe from Utica. I cannot believe I found it! I grew up in upstate NY and the neighbor was from Utica. She made these cookies for me as a child all the time, and I've tried and tried as an adult to find the recipe. All the recipes I've found don't have the right frosting, and many of them don't have the right cookie recipe either. I am SO EXCITED to make these RIGHT NOW.

  25. Why did my cookies flatten out

    1. I have never had that happen with this recipe but I can give you tips on what could happen. If you grease a pan instead of parchment or a silpat mat grease can flatten cookies. Old baking powder will also have this happen. Not using the exact amount of flour and too little can make that happen. One last thing that can happen is over measuring sugar. Those all the things can can cause a cookie to go flat, but again after making these since 1974 with no issues, I can't really know for sure. Good Luck sorry they didnt work out for you.


Remember to use the search option for a recipe you're looking for and thanks for all your kind words and support. We love our readers all the best Claudia