I’ve been feeling nostalgic for New York lately, even as I’m clearly still here—here, in some ways, more than ever, since I’m not really allowed to leave (at the time of writing, we’re under a shelter-in-place order during the COVID-19 pandemic). It’s a nostalgia for the New York I fell in love with, and the New York I’m not sure when will return.
Every day, Zack and I go for one walk, a loop around our neighborhood that allows us to see the East River and a sliver of sky without coming within more than six feet of anyone else. We pass shuttered restaurants and small clothing stores and the one camping equipment shop that always felt charmingly out of place in the midst of densely urban downtown Brooklyn. We look at the New York City skyline glimmering across the water against a backdrop of clouds and sky that seems preternaturally blue— maybe it’s actually the blue it’s supposed be, or maybe I appreciate it more or maybe it’s the blue it was before all of the people and cars came in.
Many of the annoyances of the city are gone too. While there are at the regular intervals faint wail of ambulance sirens, a niggling reminder of the current reality, the jackhammers at every corner are gone. There are no ceaseless car horns, no construction workers shouting crude outfit reviews. The city is the nearest to silent it’s been in my lifetime. It feels, in truth, peaceful, if not a little tired and world-weary.
I fell in love with New York when I was five years old, visiting my grandmother on the Upper East Side. She was single, resolutely independent, a connoisseur of fine theater and perfect bagels, and she taught me to fall in love with the wired energy of the city. Then I moved here, and I grew older, and my anxiety reared its head. That energy felt frayed, shocking to the touch at times. In truth, the first week or two of the pandemic, when the construction in the apartment above us that had been relentless for five months finally stopped, it felt like a respite.
But now, on our quiet walks in this quiet stranger of a city, I miss it, and I miss the person that I was when I fell in love with it. I think many of us are turning inward during this time, asking ourselves who we were coming into this and who we want to be coming out, and for me, the questions orbit in many ways around this city.
I was in my feelings, as Drake would say, when I made these cookies, and they captured them well. A bit of old New York—the classic Black & White cookie you see at every bodega on every corner, with the cake-like cookie and glazed frosting. And a bit of the new, the right now—a healthier base, an “eff it” ease brought by using mostly ready-made, simple ingredients. In this case a vanilla cake mix and frosting from Simple Mills. Because the classic Black & White cookie has such a vanilla cake-like texture, I’ve long wondered if cake mix wasn’t the secret to making a perfect cookie, and I was right—these have a near perfect texture of the bodega originals, but like all of Simple Mills’ amazing products, they’re grain free, refined sugar free, and filled with wholesome ingredients. Diluting the frosting with a bit of coconut oil (a trick I learned from my friend Brittany Mullins at Eating Bird Food) makes for a perfect glaze that hardens in the fridge.
Zack and I devoured these on our little balcony. It was an unseasonably warm spring day, and the tree in our neighbor’s yard had just sprung into bloom. We licked our fingers and listened to the quiet and smiled at each other. For now, we were still a part of it—New York, New York.
This post is sponsored by Simple Mills, a company I’ve loved and used for years. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that help keep this site going.Print
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, stir together the cake mix, avocado oil, water, eggs, and almond butter until very smooth. Scoop onto a parchment lined cookie sheet with a little room between each cookie, then bake for 10 minutes, or until bottoms are just brown. Let cool on pan completely before removing.
- When cookies are cool, stir ¼ cup of melted coconut oil into a bowl wtih ¼ cup of chocolate frosting; mix until smooth. Repeat with ¼ cup of melted coconut oil and ¼ cup of vanilla frosting in a separate bowl.
- Glaze half of each cookie with the vanilla frosting mix (it’s better to start with the vanilla, as it’s easier to cover mistakes with the chocolate). Use the chocolate to cover remaining half. Put in the fridge until glaze sets completely and then enjoy! Store in the fridge for 3-4 days. Makes around 18 cookies.