Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Checkerboard Cookies

Do you like to eat things that look cute, or festive, or gourmet? I do. There is something special about eating a dinner or dessert that looks like it took a long time to prepare. It somehow makes you want to eat it slowly, and enjoy every little bit.

That being said, I also personally enjoy eating homely, messy-looking foods. I guess it has something to do with the surprise of eating a food that tastes so good, yet looks so...not good.

Maybe I just love food in general. Yeah, that's probably it.

I think these cookies look cute. Maybe they aren't supposed to, but I think they do. Cute though they are, quick to make they are not. They aren't particularly hard to make, they just take some time to put together. The end result though? Delish!

(I had some extra dough after making the checkerboards, so I made them into pinwheel cookies. I must say that the pinwheels were quicker to make. If I'm ever in a hurry, and just HAVE to make these yummy cookies, I may opt for making them into swirls, ha ha!)

I halved the recipe, but if you'd like to make the original amount then go for it! The checkerboard "logs" can be frozen for up to a month. They're great to use when you're having a cookie attack emergency : )
Checkerboard Cookies

Recipe from Baking Obsession via 17 and Baking
Makes about 4 dozen cookies (original recipe makes about 8 dozen)

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (or 13 oz Soft White wheat flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar (or honey sucanat)
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add egg and vanilla. On low speed add flour mixture until just combined. Finish mixing with a wooden spoon , or your hands. Do not over-mix the dough.

Split the dough into two equal portions. (The best way to ensure that the portions are equal is weigh the dough with a kitchen scale). Knead the cocoa powder into half of the dough. Then divide each flavor in half again and form into rectangles. (You should have a total of four rectangles, two vanilla and two chocolate). Wrap each rectangle in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours, (or up to one day).

Take one chocolate and one vanilla rectangle out of the fridge. Let soften for about 15 minutes. On lightly floured surface or parchment paper (preferred), with a floured rolling pin, roll out the vanilla dough into a 6' by 5' rectangle. Cut the rectangle into nine strips, 1/2' thick each, using a pizza wheel or knife. Repeat for chocolate dough.

Form into two checkerboard logs: handling the strips delicately, alternate between chocolate and vanilla to form a three by three square. The first log should be vanilla chocolate vanilla, chocolate vanilla chocolate, vanilla chocolate vanilla. The second log should be chocolate vanilla chocolate, vanilla chocolate vanilla, chocolate vanilla chocolate. Press on the sides to make the square log as even as possible Wrap with parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill 2 hours. (For a helpful diagram of how to form the checkered pattern, check out Baking Obsession. Note that this is based on a full recipe, so the measurements will be different).

After the logs have chilled, roll remaining vanilla portion of dough into a 7' by 6' rectangle, about 1/3' thick. Take dough log with 4 strips of vanilla (chocolate dough in the four corners/middle), and wrap dough around to make an even border. Press each side of the square log to define corners. Repeat process with chocolate dough on the other log. (You can cut off dough that hangs beyond the edges of the log). Wrap logs in parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate fully, preferably overnight. Or you can freeze them at this point for up to a month, (just put dough logs into a zip-top bag, and allow to thaw slightly in fridge before cutting).

Preheat oven to 350FÂș when ready to bake. Place parchment paper or silicone mat onto a large baking sheet. Using a very sharp knife, slice the square logs into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes until firm and golden brown on bottom. Do not over-bake, or the color contrast between the vanilla and chocolate dough will be lost. Allow to cool for 15 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to cooling rack. Cool completely. Enjoy!

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