Checkerboard cookies

By mattantonino | December, 12, 2010 | 0 comments

When I saw these cookies on Elissa’s blog at 17 and Baking I knew I had to make them.  These are everything I look for in a recipe to shoot.  Interesting looking, easy arrangement, not going to wilt, wither or die on me if it takes an hour to shoot… it’s a perfect food to shoot!  I did have a bit of trouble with these the first time and Elissa was kind enough to give me a few tips.  Thanks!!

These are old fashioned cookies.  They aren’t super sugary or sweet but they have that great old world taste.  They look amazing and everyone wants to try them.

(Recipe after the jump!)

chocolate and vanilla checkerboard cookies

chocolate and vanilla checkerboard cookies closeup

rows of checkerboard cookies

isolated plate of checkerboard cookies

isolated plate of checkerboard cookies

Makes 8 dozen cookies

Ingredients

5 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Procedure
(directly from 17 and baking so I don’t screw it up – it’s complex.)

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed to just combine (you might want to cover the mixer with a towel, some flour might come up.) Finish the mixing either with your hands or a wooden spoon, being sure not to overmix.

Divide the dough in two. You want these to be as even as possible, so I weigh my dough. It’s usually around 25 oz dough in each half. Knead the cocoa powder into one half of the dough. Divide each flavor in half for four total balls of dough, two chocolate and two vanilla. Form each into a rectangle, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 2 hours (up to a day, but it tastes better if you only wait 2 hours.)

Take one portion of chocolate and one portion of vanilla out of the fridge. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to soften. On parchment paper or a lightly floured surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll out the vanilla dough into a 12? by 5? rectangle. Using a pizza wheel, knife, or bench scraper, cut the rectangle into nine strips, each 1/2? thick. Repeat the process with the chocolate dough.

Form two checkerboard logs: delicately alternate chocolate and vanilla strips to form a three by three square. One log should go: vanilla chocolate vanilla, chocolate vanilla chocolate, vanilla chocolate vanilla. The other log should be chocolate vanilla chocolate, vanilla chocolate vanilla, chocolate vanilla chocolate. Press into the sides to make it as even a square as possible. Wrap with parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.

Afterwards, roll the remaining vanilla portion into a rectangle of 12? by 6?, about 1/3? thick. Take the log with 4 strips of vanilla and wrap the dough around it to form an even border. Roll the log to press it in and define the corners. Repeat with the chocolate dough and the remaining log. Wrap the logs in parchment or plastic and refrigerate well, preferably overnight. You can also freeze them, then thaw overnight in the fridge when ready to bake.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. Using a very sharp knife, slice the cookie-dough log into ¼-inch thick slices. Place on the prepared baking sheet leaving about 1 inch all way around them. Bake the cookies, in batches, for about 12 minutes until firm and golden brown on the bottom. Don’t let them bake for too long, or the color contrast between the chocolate and vanilla dough will be lost. Cool on the baking sheet on a rack for 15 minutes. Then transfer the cookies to the rack and cool completely.


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