Half Moon Cookies

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Half Moon Cookies

If you are from central and upstate NY you probably call these Half Moon Cookies. If you are from NYC, you probably know these as Black and Whites. No matter what you call them, they are tasty. They are more cake-like in texture than a cookie, and they come in both vanilla and chocolate versions, with the ingredients and preparation being very similar.

[Updated: September 16, 2008]


stand mixer with paddle attachment
#40 cookie scoop (1-1/2 tablespoons), or you may use a larger #20 scoop if you want larger cookies (3 tablespoons)
baking sheets lined with silicone mat or parchment paper


1 cup (175 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (193 g) shortening
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups ((254 g) cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (237 mil) 2% milk

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick, 67 g) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups (325 g) confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons hot milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ounce (28 g) bittersweet chocolate, melted (reserve for chocolate batch of frosting)


1. COOKIES – Preheat oven to 350° F/175° C.

2. Cream together sugar and shortening. Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined.

3. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, salt, and baking powder. Add to wet ingredients and alternate with milk a little at a time and mix until thoroughly combined. The mixture will resemble a thick cake batter.

4. Scoop and drop onto lined cookie sheet. Shake cookie sheet slightly to allow batter to settle.

5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes and remove from oven. Allow cookies to sit on pan for a minute or two before removing and placing on a wire rack to cool.

6. Turn the cookie over and frost the back side of the cookie with vanilla frosting on one half and chocolate frosting on the other half. I usually put on a thin layer of frosting, a crumb layer, at first and let it firm up. Then I add a second layer. This keeps the crumbs from mixing into the top layer of frosting and makes the cookies prettier.

7. FROSTING – Combine all ingredients except the cocoa. Beat until smooth.

8. Divide mixture in half. Add melted chocolate to half of the frosting and stir well. Keep the frosting slightly warmer than room temperature for easier spreading.


Makes 30 cookies.

I wrap each cookie individually in plastic wrap once the frosting is set. This helps the cookies keep longer.

Do not refrigerate the cookies or they will be hard, like cold cake.

The frosting recipe is slightly different from others I’ve found. Most of the frosting recipes I’ve seen are simple water and sugar glazes, but my husband prefers the buttercream frosting.


Source: adapted from a recipe in the Syracuse Post-Standard, 2003 and a few others I found on the Internet

[Disclosure: This blog earns a small commission through affiliate links.]


  1. Elizabeth says

    Hello Andrea,
    Thank you for having this where I could find it! My youngest daughter absolutely loves Half Moons, and yes, we live in Syracuse. But, I am not familiar with –
    #40 cookie or ice cream scoop (or you may use a larger #20 scoop if you want larger cookies)
    Can anything else be used? I would love to make these for her as a surprise treat. Thank you!

    • Kay says

      Hi Andrea
      I lived in Syracuse for 44 years of my life and just in the last two years moved to Las Vegas NV. Now no one here even knows what a half moon cookie is. I am newly married and can’t wait to make these for my new husband. I thank you for the receipe. I use to go to Harrison Bakery when it was in Fayetteville NY.

  2. says

    Hi Elizabeth! I updated the recipe to include the measurement for each scoop: #40 = 1-1/2 tablespoons, #20 = 3 tablespoons. I’ve always used the scoops for measuring convenience and because the cookies come out perfectly round. I hope this helps!

  3. Erin says

    I am originally from Marcellus (NY) and used to buy these at NoJaims Supermarket, but nobody in NC knows how to make them. They’ve never even heard of Half Moon Cookies. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Patty says

    I’m thrilled to find this recipe…..I’m originally from Syracuse and still LOVE half-moon cookies from Harrison Bakery. Whenever I’m back in town, that’s a must stop! (And I know what you mean Erin…nobody even knows what a half-moon cookie is in the south!!)

  5. nancy says

    i made these half moon cookies and i have to say that they dont taste like harrison bakery half moons at all i remember them not being so sweet in the cookie, all the sweetness was in the frosting.. but i enjoyed making them… they were good but there just not the one i remember from harrison.

  6. Morgan says

    I tried this recipe and it tastes great. The only problem i had was the stickiness of the cookies. I think this is due to my minimal experience with convection ovens. I had to use one to make this recipe and am just learning to convert temperatures and bake times. Maybe i just need to bake them a little longer. I think i reduced the heat to 325 degrees and reduced the time to 6 minutes. Any hints or suggestions would be appreciated.

  7. Mary Lou says

    I grew up in Syracuse and the best half moon cookies were baked at Doris Ripleys on Onondoga Hill. I have never had one like it. I would love to have the recipe

    • Diane Keller says

      I grew up on Howlett Hill Rd. Did you find Doris’ recipe? I have a recipe but it calls for sour milk. I ‘ve always made it in the past and for some reason last night they came out flat. But they’re just like Harrison Bakery… not too sweet, and a soft cake like cookie. They are the best.

  8. Sandy says

    Holy Cow!!! I just made these cookies and they are BETTER than the ones I remember from our local bakery..and they are not frosted yet!!! I cant wait to share them with my Dad..who loves chocolate halfmoons! Thanks Andrea!! Yummy!!
    Sandy D
    Fort Plain, NY

  9. gail says

    Our family was originally from Cortland but we moved down south. They have never heard of the cookies down here. We would get them from a bakery in Cortland but it closed. Thank-you for the recipe, my husband says they taste just like the cookies from Harrisons!

  10. Vicki says

    I just found your website by looking for Harrison Bakery’s 1/2 moon cookie recipe. Yeah! I’m going to try it today!!
    I do have a question for you though……….I have recently moved to NC from Camillus and I would LOVE to know of anyone you know in my area of Huntersville NC.


  11. mary ford says

    I made these cookies exactly as directed. I live in Syracuse so I know how they are suppose to taste and look. They were flat as pancakes and tasteless. I’m glad I didn’t make the frosting before I waited to see how they turned out.

  12. Erin McCormack says

    This recipe is absolutely wonderful – thank you for posting it. We had these all the time growing up in Skaneateles, NY – from the now extinct Skaneateles bakery. They definitely don’t have them in Los Angeles, so I was really excited to make them and take a little trip down memory lane!

  13. Valerie says

    i’ve LOVED these cookies since i was younger growing up in Central New York near Ithaca. made these for the first time on Friday after having the recipe and it was a big hit!! thanks for sharing the recipe!!

  14. stacey says

    I was born and raised in Syracuse, NY and besides Harrison Bakery, Wegmans had the BEST half moons. I cheated and used butter instead of shortening & it didn’t seem to rise. However, I live in OR now and have to follow recipes that include “high altitude” instructions. Is their anything I can add to the mix for high altitude as my cookies looked more like pancakes :(

  15. Tim says

    I’ve come up with a couple of different twists on these over the last year. I made a strawberry version of these for Valentine’s Day, and now I’ve made a peppermint version for Christmas.

  16. Phil D. says

    I grew up in Utica N.Y. by far the mecca of the half moon from Hemstraughts bakery. They were available at every supermarket as well and still are . The original Halfmoon is a chocolate cookie with chocolate and white icing, mmmmmm. I now live in the midwest, Indianapolis, and good luck finding any bakeries here, unless i drive up to Chicago. BTW , ever hear of anywhere up there to find these little guys ?

  17. Bob says

    I wish I knew where the Halfmoon came from. I never heard of it before moving to Central NY. I have lived all over the country and they have always been referred to as Black and White cookies, (black and whites). I

    • laurie says

      I just found a history on the famous Halfmoon Cookies. Hemstrought’s Bakeries, 250 miles northwest of the Big Apple has been making the Chocolate Halfmoon since the 1920’s, when Henry Hemstrought, a former architect, opened a small bakery on Columbia Street in Utica, NY.
      In 1999 Saveur Magazine tracked down Hemstrought’s halfmoon cookie recipe.
      Also Holland Farms in Utica NY offers the traditional halfmoon cookie frosted with half chocolate and half vanilla icing
      I have the recipe if anyone is interested…


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