Half Moons

Growing up in Utica, New York meant tomato pie, Halloween costumes that would work under a winter coat, and half moons from Hemstrought’s Bakery.

Some will try to compare Half Moons to Black and White cookies (especially they’re from or live in New York City) but they’re nothing like Black and White cookies. Black and White cookies have a shortbread base that crumbles when you bite into it.

Half Moons are a rich chocolate cake batter that’s baked like a cookie and then smeared with fudge icing on one side and buttercream icing on the other side. I mean really - why wouldn’t you want to have mini hand cakes all the time?? Which is why you can just pick them up at the grocery store in Utica while you’re getting your milk and bread.

In fact, every time we head up to see my parents we pick up a pack of 12 to bring back home with us - but they never seem to last past a few days… but I found out that Saveur Magazine had published the original Hemstrought’s recipe scaled down from 2,400 cookies to 30.

Since we always end up cutting them in half for the kids, I decided to adapt the recipe a bit so that the moons were silver-dollar sized and the buttercream icing doesn’t have quite so much sugar.

The cookies, themselves, are easy to bake though I would recommend having a few cookie sheets on hand so you can pipe onto one while you have another in the oven. We had friends over for lunch and made the icing together and had fun schmearing while the kids popped in and out to taste a new one.

Since I made them smaller, this made about 60 for me - which just means that I have a whole bunch of half moons in my freezer for anyone that wants to stop over ;)

hemstroughts half moon cookies sassi kitchen
hemstroughts half moon cookies sassi kitchen
hemstroughts half moon cookies sassi kitchen
hemstroughts+half+moon+cookies+sassi+kitchen
hemstroughts half moon cookies sassi kitchen
hemstroughts half moon cookies sassi kitchen
Once we piped out the cookies, we dabbed the peak with a wet finger to smooth it down so the tops (that will become the bottoms) wouldn’t have a pointy end.

Once we piped out the cookies, we dabbed the peak with a wet finger to smooth it down so the tops (that will become the bottoms) wouldn’t have a pointy end.

hemstroughts half moon cookies sassi kitchen
hemstroughts half moon cookies sassi kitchen
hemstroughts half moon cookies sassi kitchen
hemstroughts half moon cookies sassi kitchen
hemstroughts half moon cookies sassi kitchen
hemstroughts half moon cookies sassi kitchen
hemstroughts half moon cookies sassi kitchen

Half Moon Cookies

Adapted from Saveur’s publication from Hemstrought’s Bakery. Makes 60 silver dollar-sized cookies.

For the cookies:

2 c. sugar

1 c. butter, softened

3/4 c. cocoa powder

1/4 t. salt

2 eggs

1 t. vanilla

3 3/4 c. flour

3/4 t. baking powder

2 t. baking soda

1 1/2 c. milk

Beat the sugar, butter, cocoa and salt until fluffy. I left it for about 10 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat again.

Mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl and add half, alternating with the milk.

Pipe or spoon onto parchment paper. The original recipe calls for 3 inch rounds but I found that making them 1 - 1 1/2 inches still made them a good side, slightly smaller than my palm when they were baked. I used a piping bag but you could easily spoon into a regular plastic bag and snip off the end.

Bake at 350 F just until set - for me this meant 8 minutes.

Fudge Icing:

3 1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate

3 1/2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

1 T. butter

4 c. confectioner’s sugar

2 T. corn syrup

1 t. vanilla

pinch salt

6-10 T. boiling water

Melt the chocolates over a double boiler. If you don’t have one (like me), just place a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water and hold the edge with a towel - works like a charm. Take off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients.

As you add the sugar, one cup at a time, it tends to get very thick. Alternate with a couple tablespoons of boiling water (how handy - that’s what it’s sitting on top of) to thin it out. Use a rubber spatula to mix until it’s a paste-like consistency. When you’re icing the cookies you’ll want to keep this warm so that it’s easy to spread. The easiest way to do that is to just leave it off the heat but sitting over your pan of water.

Buttercream icing:

6 c. confectioner’s sugar

1 c. butter, softened

1/2 c. vegetable shortening

6 T. milk

1 T. vanilla

pinch salt

Beat everything until fluffy. I started with just half the sugar and milk, and then added the rest.

To assemble the cookies:

Turn them over so the bottom is up. Spread about a tablespoon of the fudge icing on one side, and then a tablespoon of buttercream icing on the other side. It’s ok if they don’t look perfect - they’ll be gone before anyone even notices!

Enjoy!