Pastry Road Trip: Wisconsin-Style Black and White Cookies at Ella's Deli, Madison WI

Black and white cookie from Ella's Deli, Madison WI
When I recently passed through Madison, Wisconsin, I hadn't intended on stopping by Ella's Deli. Full disclosure? I didn't even know it existed.
Ella's Deli, Madison WI
But the moment I drove by and witnessed its awesomeness firsthand--there's a carousel outside, for crying out loud--wild horses couldn't have kept me away.
Ella's Deli, Madison WI
Advertised as Madison's "finest and first deli", this eatery serves up sandwiches and diner-style fare, but I zeroed right in on the bakery case. Their dessert menu is ice cream-heavy, with all sorts of delectable shakes, sundaes--including grilled pound cake sundaes. But something decidedly more modest intrigued me: the black and white cookie in their bakery case.

Now, this cookie may look like the New York-area style cookie, but it is actually quite different. Where the kind I grew up with in New Jersey were soft, cakey drop cookies with a fondant-type icing, Ella's version appears to be a rolled butter cookie, very dense and topped with a light vanilla and chocolate icing. But I am not stating this difference as a complaint: while it may not be the same type of black and white cookie as the ones in the NY metro area, it is certainly a delicious version. The cookie was crunchy on the outside, slightly chewy on the inside, and with the sweetness of the frosting on top, a completely decadent treat. After devouring it, I found that I didn't have an appetite for "real" lunch--and I didn't care.

Ella's Deli was a serendipitous find indeed, leading me not only to sing the praises of Madison, but also to lead to perhaps the most perplexing question of all: why don't more eateries have carousels outside? Surely we could all use a side of magic with our meal more often.

Ella's Deli, 2902 East Washington Ave., Madison, WI (608) 241-5291; online at