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    Hemstrought Bakery's Half Moon Cookies

    Source of Recipe

    Hemstrought's Bakery

    Recipe Introduction

    This makes about 30

    List of Ingredients


    3 3/4 cups flour
    3/4 tsp. baking powder
    2 tsp. baking soda
    2 1/4 cup sugar
    16 tbsp. margarine, cut into pieces
    3/4 cup cocoa, sifted
    1/4 tsp. salt
    2 eggs
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups milk


    3 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate
    3 1/2 oz. semisweet chocolate
    1 tbsp. butter
    4 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
    2 tbsp. corn syrup
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    Pinch salt


    7 cups confectioners' sugar
    16 tbsp. room temperature butter, cut into pieces
    1/2 cup vegetable shortening
    7 tbsp. milk
    1 tbsp. vanilla extract
    Pinch salt


    . For the cookies: Preheat oven to 350°. Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. Put sugar, margarine, cocoa, and salt in bowl of standing mixer and beat on medium speed
    until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and
    continue to beat. Add half the milk, then
    half the flour mixture, beating after each
    addition until smooth; repeat with remaining
    milk and flour mixture. Spoon or pipe batter
    onto parchment-lined baking sheets, making
    3'' rounds 2'' apart. Bake until cookies are
    set, about 12 minutes. Allow to cool, then
    remove from parchment.

    2. For the fudge icing: Melt bittersweet and
    semisweet chocolates and butter in the top
    of a double boiler over simmering water over
    medium heat. Add confectioners' sugar, corn
    syrup, vanilla, salt, and 6 tbsp. boiling
    water and mix to a smooth, stiff paste with
    a rubber spatula. Thin icing with up to 8
    tbsp. more boiling water. Icing should fall
    from a spoon in thick ribbons. Keep icing
    warm in a double boiler over low heat.

    3. For the buttercream icing: Put sugar,
    butter, shortening, milk, vanilla, and salt
    in the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat on low
    speed to mix, then increase to medium and
    beat until light and fluffy.

    4. Using a metal spatula, spread about 1 tbsp. of warm fudge icing on half of the flat side of each cookie. Spread the other half of each cookie with 1 heaping tbsp. buttercream

    When the black-and-white cookie, that staple of bakery and deli counters throughout New York City's five boroughs, was immortalized in episode 74 of Seinfeld, it was not a
    compliment: The cookie in question was so
    stale—typical!—that it gave Jerry indigestion.

    He would have found a far better black-and-white at Hemstrought's Bakeries,
    250 miles northwest of the Big Apple, where
    it's called the halfmoon. This wonderful
    pastry orb has been around since the 1920s,
    when Harry Hemstrought, a former architect,
    opened a small bakery on Columbia Street in
    Utica, New York.

    What makes a halfmoon superior to its downstate cousin? First, it's fresh. Every day, the folks at Hemstrought's bake 12,000 of these inverted drop cakes. Then there's the flavor: Each cookie is a sphere of soft, chewy chocolate, a vast improvement on the
    often tired vanilla-cookie version in
    Gotham. Finally, there's the double-thick
    icing—half fudge, half vanilla. According to
    Hemstrought co-owner Tom Batters (that's his
    real name), the bakery still uses the
    original recipe, passed down from Harry's
    son, Robert.

    Halfmoons are mixed from scratch in a 40-quart mixer, piped onto baking sheets, popped into the ovens, and then hand-iced by a crack team of spatula-wielding ladies on the bakery's afternoon shift. This sounds pretty basic, but there's a real art to applying the fudge icing to half of each cookie, then smoothing the buttercream onto the other half to create a perfect straight line down the middle. It's easy to smudge, and novices tend to skimp on the icing. Asked how long it takes to master the trick, Batters sighs, ''Some people never learn. But usually about a week.''

    Utica residents are fiercely loyal to their
    local bakery, which has nine retail shops
    throughout the surrounding Mohawk Valley and
    concessions in most of the region's
    supermarkets. The cookies show up regularly
    at church suppers, hospital bedsides, and
    out-of-state college dorms populated by
    homesick freshmen. For her wedding day, one
    ardent customer even ordered a five-tiered
    halfmoon cake—enough for 250 guests.

    The question of which side to eat first—chocolate or vanilla—is hotly debated.
    Robert Hemstrought himself, still eating
    halfmoons after 72 years, has a diplomatic
    solution: ''I bite it right down the




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