What Makes Fudge Fancy Cookies Unique?

If New York were a cookie, it would surely be the iconic black and white cookie. The half vanilla, half chocolate frosted baked goods came to be known as "black and white cookies" in Manhattan as early as 1902, but Eater New York shares that upstate New Yorkers had been making them long before that and calling them "half moon cookies" instead. Black and white cookies are arguably the most famous cookies to come out of New York, but contrary to popular belief, they're not the only kind.

Further upstate in Albany, The Takeout shares, bakeries make another regional favorite: the fudge fancy cookie. Like black and white or half moon cookies, fudge fancy cookies are a combination of chocolate and vanilla. The most obvious difference is the placement of the black and white elements — on a fudge fancy, the chocolate is on top and the vanilla is on the bottom, rather than on the left and right sides. 

Even with identical flavor components, however, the two end up tasting pretty different. So, what exactly is it that sets fudge fancy cookies apart, aside from their appearance?

Fudge fancy cookies have a shortbread base

Take a bite of a fudge fancy cookie, and you'll immediately understand how it's different from a black and white cookie. It isn't so much the taste as it is the texture. Black and white cookies are made similar to a cake, Zaro's Bakery shared with Insider, and they get their soft, spongy texture primarily from sour cream, milk, and eggs. 

Fudge fancy cookies, on the other hand, include none of these ingredients. The base is a vanilla shortbread, rather than a cookie or cake, The Takeout notes, which means the dough consists primarily of flour, butter, and powdered sugar. When baked, this results in a much more dense cookie that is slightly hard and crumbly, rather than soft and chewy.

The chocolate component of a fudge fancy also makes a noticeable difference. In a black and white cookie, the frosting is made with icing sugar, water, and cocoa powder, Zaro's revealed. But in a fudge fancy cookie, according to Lake George Baking Company, the much thicker, piped-on frosting is chocolate fudge, as its name suggests.

How were fudge fancy cookies invented?

Unlike the black and white cookie, the origins of the fudge fancy cookie aren't shrouded in mystery. The now-famed cookie is said to have been created by Debra and Carl "Buster" Alberino, a couple who owned upstate bakery The Vanilla Bean at the time of the cookie's creation, The Takeout reports. 

Local news outlet The Record shares that business picked up at The Vanilla Bean when the Alberinos hired Manuel Cintron, a former employee of Zaro's, the Penn Station bakery famous for its black and white cookies. Though Cintron pledged his loyalty to Zaro's and the black and white cookie for more than 30 years, he helped the Alberinos make history with their now-iconic fudge fancies.

Unfortunately, fans can no longer buy cookies at The Vanilla Bean, as the couple closed its doors in 2007 (per the Times Union). But plenty of other New York bakeries make versions of the fudge fancy. If you want a taste of the original recipe, however, the Alberinos now run the Lake George Baking Company (per The Record) and confirmed on the company website that they still make the same fudge fancies they once sold at The Vanilla Bean.