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Easy Bakery Style Half Moon Cookies


Did you know that you can have a bit of New York at home with these Easy Bakery Style Half Moon Cookies? The very best part is that the recipe starts with a cake mix and ends with one simple frosting that is divided to make both vanilla and chocolate.

A stack of Half Moon Black and White Cookies in a single file line.
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Are Half Moon Cookies the same as Black and Whites

There are similarities and differences between the two cookies.  Obviously, they both look similar in how they are decorated with half black and half white. The original recipe for both also comes from New York city.

Black and white cookies however are a more flat cookie that normally have either fondant or royal icing on top.

Half-moon cookies are a bit different because they have frosting on top of a cookie that is more of a dome shape and not as flat.

What Goes Into this Recipe

Photo of the ingredients needed to make the half moon cookies.
  • Vanilla Cake Mix: The perfect starting point for a cake-like cookie and gives it great vanilla flavor.
  • Butter: Used iUse room temperature butter to give the cookies a nice thick texture.
  • Egg Whites: The whites of the eggs are added to keep the cookie a pure white color that they wouldn’t have if an egg yolk was added.
  • Sour Cream: A secret ingredient for getting a soft cakey cookie.
A photo of the ingredients needed to make the half moon frosting.


  • Cocoa Powder: Added to half of the frosting to give you both vanilla and chocolate.
  • Milk: Used to thin out the frosting perfectly.
  • Vanilla Extract: Gives the frosting a wonderful flavor.
  • Corn Syrup: It is a wonderful ingredient to use in order to get your frosting to set up quickly.
  • Salt: Used to offset the sweetness of the frosting.

See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

How to make Half Moon Cookies

1. Begin by combining the cookie ingredients. Combine everything with a hand held mixer on low to medium speed and be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl.

2. Scoop mounds of dough using a medium cookie scoop onto a silicone mat {or parchment paper} lined baking sheet.  The cookie dough mounds can be close together {but not touching} because we are going to refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes. Normally I am not someone with enough patience to refrigerate dough but I find recipes like Cookies and Cream Whoopie Pies and this recipe you need to.  It helps give you the thick shape you want.

A photo of steps 1 & 2 in making Half Moon Cookies.

3. Once the dough has chilled, roll each mound of dough into a smooth ball and place onto a silicone mat {or parchment} lined baking sheet.

4. Bake your half moon cookies in a 350 degree oven for 11-13 minutes.  When you are going for a cake-like cookie it is important to not under bake the cookie. Remove the cookies from the oven when the edges of cookies are golden brown. Let them cool completely on the cookie sheet that is placed on a wire rack.

A photo of steps 3 and 4 in making Half Moon Cookies.

Icing Half Moon Cookies

1. To ice the cooled cookies, turn them on their tops because we want to frost the flat side of the cookie.  Combine the powdered sugar, milk, corn syrup, vanilla and salt in a small bowl and then add half to a separate bowl.    In one of the bowls add the cocoa powder and mix. Using an offset spatula, add the vanilla frosting {aka white} to half of the cookie.  The addition of corn syrup to the icing will allow the icing to set up fairly quickly.

2. Then go back with the chocolate icing {aka black} and frost the other half of the cookie. This technique will give you half chocolate and half vanilla icing.  Allow them to set up completely and then you can add them to a serving plate or store in an airtight container.

A photo of steps 5 & 6 of making Half Moon Cookies, showing how to frost the cookies.

Expert Tips

  • Don’t skip chilling the dough.  This step helps the cookies from spreading during baking and gives the cookies a good thick cake-like texture.
  • Be sure that the cookies are completely cooled before frosting. If you try to frost them too soon the icing will melt.
  • Use the bottom of the cake-like cookies as the top to get a nice smooth top. This gives you the perfect flat surface for decorating.
  • Be sure to divide the frosting in half and add cocoa powder to one half to get both vanilla and chocolate buttercream.  Being able to make one frosting is super nice.
  • Allow the cookies to set up completely before stacking. If you try to stack them too soon the frosting will get blemishes.

Storing and Freezing

Store: These delicious Half Moon Cookies need to be a good airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They will stay fresh for 3-4 days.

Freeze: The unfrosted cookies freeze extremely well for up to 3 months. If you decide to freeze them frosted, be sure to put something between the layers so they don’t stick together.

Recipe FAQs

Where do Black & White Cookies come from?

This cookie recipe is believed to have been created in 1902 by Glaser’s Bake Shop in Manhattan by Bavarian immigrants.  

Can I use any kind of cake mix?

A vanilla or white cake mix works best for this recipe to get a good original halfmoon cookie and a good vanilla cookie base. If you are wanting to try something different a chocolate or red velvet cake mix would be delicious.

Do I have to make homemade icing?

You do not have to make homemade icing. If you prefer to use store bought frosting, use vanilla frosting and divide in half. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the other half for a classic chocolate taste.

Also be sure to thin the frosting down with milk to get a nice spreadable consistency.

Can I make this recipe gluten free?

This recipe can be made gluten free by using a gluten free vanilla cake mix.

A stack of three Half Moon Black and White Cookies.

Do you love easy Cake Mix Cookies? Try these recipes:

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A stack of bakery style half moon cookies.

Easy Bakery Style Half Moon Cookies

A cake mix is transformed into the famous Half Moon Cookies from the bakeries of New York but made from the comfort of your home.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 24 cookies
Calories: 184kcal
4.96 from 25 votes
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  • 1 box vanilla cake mix {15.25 oz.}
  • 1/2 cup butter {softened}
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup sour cream


  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 1/2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder



  • Preheat the oven to 350° and cover baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl combine cake mix, butter, eggs and sour cream. Using a hand held mixer {or mix by hand}, mix the ingredients until just combined. There may be small bits of butter in the dough.
  • Scoop dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet using a medium cookie scoop. Refrigerate the dough scoops for at least 30 minutes.
  • Once chilled, add cookie scoops to a cookie sheet and bake for 11-13 minutes or until the edges and top of the cookie are set and the top is starting to crack. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet. Continue until all of the cookies are baked.


  • Combine the icing ingredients {minus the cocoa} and whisk until smooth. You want the icing to be thick enough to stay on the cookie but thin enough to spread. Adjust by adding more powdered sugar or milk.
  • Divide the icing into two separate bowls. In one of the bowls add the cocoa and whisk. You will have a bowl of vanilla icing and a bowl of chocolate.
  • Turn the cookies over onto their tops because the bottom of these cookies are what will be icing and will become the top of the cookie.
  • Spread vanilla icing onto half of the cookies– the flat side. Spread chocolate icing onto the other half and allow the icing to set completely, about 1 hour, before serving.
  • Store the half moon cookies in an airtight container once the icing is set for up to 4 days or freeze {without icing} for up to 3 months.



  • Don’t skip chilling the dough.  This step helps the cookies from spreading during baking.
  • Be sure that the cookies are completely cooled before frosting.
  • Use the bottom of the cookie as the top to get a nice smooth top, just like the cookies you would buy in New York.
  • Be sure to divide the frosting in half and add cocoa powder to one half.  This will give you both the black and white frostings.
  • Allow the cookies to set up completely before stacking.


Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 184kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 213mg | Potassium: 32mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 137IU | Vitamin C: 0.02mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 0.5mg
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