Half Moon Cookies take me back to my childhood; warm memories of visiting my grandma in upstate New York come flooding back. Grandma LaPalm lived in a beautiful house full of antiques and very big rooms (at least they seemed big back then) in a pre-World War II neighborhood that even had an old-fashioned corner store across the street. The house had such charm—a huge front porch, claw-foot bathtub, crystal candy dish on top of the console TV, a den full of wooden toys built by my grandpa, and a mudroom illuminated by a still-burning Edison bulb original to the house.
Meals at Grandma’s were always at the big round table in her cheery eat-in kitchen, never in the fancy formal dining room, which was just fine with my kid self. Next to the table was a hutch with canisters holding sweet treats, and more often than not, one of those canisters was filled with Half Moon Cookies. Big cakey cookies with half chocolate frosting and half vanilla; which side to eat first was always such a decision!
I’m not sure what made me want to bake up batch recently. Maybe the cooler weather gave me a hankering for something warm and comforting, like a visit to Grandma’s house. Enjoy!
Grandma LaPalm's Half Moon Cookies
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour milk (1 tablespoon vinegar with milk added to make one cup; let sit 5 minutes)
Chocolate and vanilla frosting, recipe follows
In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with hand-held mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Alternately mix flour mixture and milk into butter-sugar-egg mixture, a third at a time, mixing well after each addition. When fully mixed, cover bowl and chill for at least two hours and up to 12 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two large baking pans with parchment. Using a medium cookie dough scoop (mine is size 30), drop scoops of dough about 2-3 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake for 9-10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through cooking, to bake evenly. Remove cookies to rack to cool.
While cookies are cooling, make frosting:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, milk, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Mix in the 1/3 cup milk and vanilla alternately with the powdered sugar until all is incorporated and frosting is smooth and creamy.
Removed about half of the frosting to another medium bowl. Beat in cocoa powder and an additional tablespoon milk.
Frost cookies on the flat bottom side, not the domed top side. Frost one half of each cookie with vanilla frosting. Frost the other half with chocolate, using a thicker swath with the chocolate.
Let cookies sit at room temperature until frosting is set. Cookies keep for several days if covered (or in Grandma’s cookie canister!). Makes 2 ½ to 3 dozen cookies.