The Black & White’s guide to the best black and white cookies in Bethesda


By Emily Weiss

A crowd of people bustling through a deli is the best sign. The smell of freshly baked bagels and cookies hits you first. Then you take in the piles of flavored cream cheeses next to cases filled with an endless variety of pastries, from rainbow cookies to cheese danishes. 

Perhaps one of the most iconic — and one of my personal favorite — deli items is the black and white cookie. The black and white cookie is large, flat and cakey, topped with chocolate icing on one side and vanilla on the other. Bavarian immigrants living in New York created the cookie in 1902, and it has remained a staple in Jewish delis ever since.

To find the best black and white cookies in Bethesda, I visited four local delis and bakeries: Bethesda Bagels, Attman’s Delicatessen, Call Your Mother Deli and Breads Unlimited Bakery. To determine the winner, I ranked each serving based on cookie and icing taste, cookie and icing texture, appearance, and price.


Call Your Mother Deli – 3.2/5 ($3.50)

I was unimpressed by this cookie. The hardened icing left small drips around the base, and the line between the black and white icing was messy, leaving the cookie with a slightly unflattering appearance. Both the icing and base didn’t have much flavor, and the icing was quite hard and crunchy as opposed to the desired melt-in-your-mouth consistency. Though the base was flatter than others, it was still moist and fluffy — giving this cookie a chance at redemption. Overall, the lack of flavor left me feeling quite unsatisfied and craving a more traditional and balanced black and white cookie.


Bethesda Bagels – 3.4/5 ($3.17)

This cookie started on a questionable path, as the two sides of icing were also partially melted together. Though this did affect the aesthetics of the cookie, beauty is only frosting-deep. The icing was even more inconsistent, however — the chocolate was silky and smooth, while the vanilla was hard and crumbly. Both sides lacked a strong taste. Conversely, the delightful taste of the cookie base overcame my dissatisfaction with the icing. Though on the drier side, it was fluffy and thick. It was overall a satisfying cookie that managed to meet my expectations, even with a few flaws.


Breads Unlimited Bakery – 4/5 ($4.00)

With a crisp line down the center, this cookie immediately reached the top of the appearance category, surpassing the other contenders. The texture of the icing was like a dream — creamy and light without being sticky — and both the chocolate and vanilla flavors were clear and pronounced. However, this cookie fell short in texture with a dry and overbaked base even slightly burnt, which overshadowed the icing. While the cookie wasn’t charred by any means, it could have ranked much higher if it were baked for a bit less time.


Attman’s Delicatessen – 4.2/5 (7.99 for an eight-pack)

Though smaller in size, this cookie exceeded its competition in both texture and flavor and was the best of the bunch. While the base was slightly thin, it was still wonderfully moist and fluffy, packed with a delicious sweet flavor. The icing texture was perfect as well, neither stiff nor sticky. While the thickness of the icing layer slightly overpowered the cookie, the distinct flavors of chocolate and vanilla made up for it. Each side tasted just as good as the other — just like a true black and white cookie should.