Utica Half Moon Cookies

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I grew up in a small town about 5 miles outside of Utica, New York. The name Utica may sound familiar if you’ve ever watched The Office, or have seen Rachel Ray make “Riggies” but other than that it’s a pretty small unknown city. Though I live in Albany now, I will always consider myself a “Utican,” and one of the reasons is because the food culture is so unique.

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It seems that Utica has always been a place where immigrants and refugees settle, in the 1900’s there were huge populations of Italian and Polish immigrants. Then, in 2014 New York Times wrote an article stating, “Nearly one-fourth of the population of Utica, NY, are refugee families.” So as you can imagine our food culture is extremely diverse, and I love it. If you ever meet a Utican, there are 3 foods that they will say were created and are made the best in Utica; 1) Chicken Riggies 2) Utica Greens 3) Half Moons.

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In my opinion my ma (cue Italian music) makes the best Chicken Riggies, Georgios makes the best Greens and Holland Farms makes the best Half Moons. I could go on and on about all three of these, but this post is about Uticas favorite cookie HALF MOONS. You may have heard or seen something labeled “Half Moon Cookie” before, but I promise they’re not the same. Utica Half Moons have a base that is like a Whoopie Pie and come in chocolate or vanilla, then they are frosted with chocolate and vanilla frosting to look like a half moon!4518D66A-110C-458B-8655-70ECA60DDFBF.jpg

As an ode to my hometown I decided to make them at home, a chocolatey fudgy cookie serves as the base, and is topped with homemade vanilla and chocolate buttercream, enjoy!


Utica Half Moons

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Bake Time: 10 Minutes 



  • ½  cup shortening
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½  cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½  cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½  cup hot water


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, cream together ½ cup of shortening and white sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg, then stir in the vanilla and milk.
  4. Combine the flour, cocoa and salt, stir into the creamed mixture.
  5. Stir together the baking soda and hot water then add to the batter.
  6. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until firm but not over baked. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets before removing to wire racks to cool completely.


Chocolate Frosting

  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
  • ⅓  cup cocoa powder
  • 1 ½  cups powdered sugar
  • 5 tbsp + 1 tsp milk
  • ½  tsp vanilla extract


  1. Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
  2. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 1 cup of frosting.


Vanilla Frosting

  • ¼ cup (½ stick butter) room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp milk


  1. Place room temperature butter in kitchen aid and whip butter until it is light and airy, slowly add powdered sugar and milk alternating between the two. 

7 thoughts on “Utica Half Moon Cookies

  1. Laurie says:

    I can’t wait to make these! I’m from Syracuse so I’m very familiar with halfmoon cookies. We took the train to Utica as kids with my grandparents just to go to the bakery! We moved very far away and I have been searching for halfmoon cookies. Tried getting my family to mail some but… that didn’t happen so now I have been searching for a recipe. So glad I stumbled upon yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    • LAUREN CLEAR says:

      Hi Laurie. I was looking for the recipe that my mom used to make when I was growing up and these Half Moons look just like them. I’m also from Syracuse (Liverpool actually but born in Syracuse). My mom has recently passed away and I’m making a cookbook of her recipes, as well as my favorites, with notes about where I had them and what we were doing. Fun stuff. I’ll surely make these for our next family reunion. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

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