January 17, 2018

Black & white cookies of Midwood

The black and white cookie: so familiar to New Yorkers, so unknown elsewhere. But who makes the best one? I drove down to Midwood to visit five bakeries (Meir’s, Isaac’s, and Ostrovitsky’s on Avenue J; “Kosher Bakery” and Weiss Bakery on Avenue M) and find out.

(Ratings are on a 5-cookie scale.)


Meir’s ($2.50)

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(Note: the label next to the cookie in each photo is exactly 578″ long.)

The first thing I notice about this one is how soft the icing is—both the white side and the black side. Unlike most b&w cookies, the white icing doesn’t crack; and the black icing is not fondant, but ganache-like.

The cookie itself has a mild vanilla flavor, and is also soft, though a bit dry.

Overall, the cookie is very satisfying to eat. I could easily eat the whole thing at once.

My rating:

Isaac’s ($2.00)

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Very much like the Meir’s cookie, though the frosting is slightly thicker and creamier, and the chocolate frosting especially is aromatic and flavorful. The cookie itself is slightly denser and moister. Very nearly the perfect cookie.

My rating:

Ostrovitsky’s ($2.25)

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Noticeably larger than the first two cookies, but also more lopsided (there’s a lot more white than black). The cookie itself is very good, on par with the Isaac’s cookie. The frosting, however, is too sweet (on both sides); the sugar drowns out the flavor (which, however, is good, though not as good as the Isaac’s cookie).

This cookie is too sugary to eat all at once (especially given its size). Two people might share it, perhaps.

My rating:

“Kosher” ($1.75)

Opening a bakery in Midwood and calling it “Kosher Bakery” seems redundant.

The black & white cookies in this bakery weren’t in the display case with the others; I almost left empty-handed, though at the last moment I decided to ask the woman behind the counter if they had any of the things. She assured me that she did, and pulled one out from… I have no idea where, actually; I thought I was watching her, but then a sleight of hand took place before my eyes, and she had a cookie in hand.

Maybe that should’ve made me suspicious, because when I got home and opened my bags of goodies, this is what I discovered:

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Yes, some of the black frosting came off, having gotten stuck to the inside of the paper bag they put the cookie in. Unfortunate.

The black frosting is noticeably darker than the other three cookies, and the white frosting is glossier and more cracked. Flavor-wise, it’s distinctly inferior. Aside from sugar, there’s not much to taste, here. The cookie itself is very dry (much more so than the Meir’s cookie).

Maybe these were yesterday’s batch? Who knows. The fact is, if you told me that this cookie didn’t come from a neighborhood bakery, but was mass-produced, packaged, and shipped—a “bodega cookie”—well, I wouldn’t quite believe you at first… but I could be convinced. This is far from the worst black & white cookie I’ve ever had… but for something that came from a Midwood bakery, that’s the epitome of “damning with faint praise”.

My rating:

Weiss (CLOSED!)

A sign taped to the window of Weiss Bakery informed me that they lost their lease and had to close down. Sad!

(It seems they’ve got a location on 13th Ave. Perhaps a follow-up post—“Black & white cookies of Borough Park”—is in order?)


(click to enlarge)

Isaac’s wins this contest, though Meir’s is a close but clear second. Both are excellent, however—paragons of the genre, exemplifying what a black & white cookie should be: flavorful frosting, thick and solid but creamy, on a cookie that’s a good balance between dense and fluffy, without being crumbly.

The Ostrovitsky’s cookie is competent (I would not expect less from Ostrovitsky’s Bakery, where I have bought many baked goods over the years) but flawed. Skip the “Kosher Bakery” cookie; it’s shoddy work.

I remain on the lookout for the perfect black & white cookie, one deserving of a 5-cookie rating. Such a cookie would have all the strengths of the Isaac’s cookie, but the cookie itself would be moister, and have a stronger vanilla flavor—a cookie you could eat by itself, even before it was frosted.


If you ever find yourself in south/central Brooklyn, do yourself a favor: head down to Midwood, to the stretch of Avenue J that lies between Coney Island Avenue and the B/Q train station; stop by either Meir’s or Isaac’s bakery; and get yourself a black & white cookie (or several). (While you’re there, get a lox & cream cheese bagel from The Bagel Hole, and perhaps a potato knish; they’re excellent.)

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