I received some good news earlier this week, I am nominated in the Best Food and Drink blog category in India. How crazy is that? It's an honor and a humbling experience to be sharing the spot with some amazingly talented bloggers. If you do have a moment to spare, please check out the link and I would really appreciate if you could give me your vote. This past year has been amazing and I have met so many wonderful people via this tiny space of mine, your overwhelmingly positive and encouraging comments have been very supportive and I thank you.
We are off to Charleston this weekend for the wedding of my two dearest friends. To make our long 8 hour drive fun, I baked one of my favorite childhood cookies, the checkerboard kind. There are so many wonderful things about checkerboard cookies, they look cute, they taste good (cocoa and vanilla), they smell great, take my word for it, they are simply delicious! I got the recipe from one of my mom's old cooking notes, though I am not sure where she got it from.
Did I forget to mention, how good the kitchen smells when you bake vanilla and cocoa? I need to bake these guys more often before people come over.
A couple of notes when baking these cookies, the dough is slightly sticky so I prefer to roll out the cylinders on parchment paper, less mess and you don't need to add extra flour. You need the 4 cylinders of cookie dough to stick together so adding any more flour to these ratios might affect the way in which they stick together. The cookies are easier to cut if the dough is firm and they also come out crispier, so refrigerate them for a few minutes before cutting and baking.
yields: approximately 30-35 cookies
1 stick (1/2 cup / 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (7 1/8 ounces) all purpose four
1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder (70% cacao)
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy on medium speed using the paddle attachment.
2. Sift the flour three times and mix half of it into the butter and sugar mixture on medium low speed. Add the egg with the rest of the flour and mix on medium low speed until completely combined.
3. Remove the dough from the bowl on place on a clean sheet of parchment paper. Divide it into two equal parts. Keep one part aside and take one part and place it in a mixing bowl with the cocoa. Fold with a silicone spatula until completely combined and there are no visible streaks of the yellow flour and the dough takes on the dark color of the cocoa.
4. Divide each of the two equal parts of the dough (the one with cocoa and the one without) into two equal parts each. By now you should have 2 parts of plain dough and 2 parts of the cocoa dough. On another sheet of parchment paper, using your hands, carefully roll out each part of the dough into 12 inch long cylinders.
5. Arrange them alternately to form the checks. To do this place one cocoa cylinder next to the plain flour cylinder and press them lightly together. Repeat this by layering the top and reversing the order of the two dough cylinders (plain flour and then cocoa). This will create the characteristic checkerboard pattern. Wrap the final log of dough with parchment paper along its length. At this stage, I like to smoothen the edges and gently press the cylinders together using the outer parchment paper, it gives a cleaner finish. Refrigerate the dough for an hour to firm up. Once the dough is firm, cut into 0.5cm thin slices using a sharp knife. Place the cookie slices on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate the cookies for 10 minutes to firm up. Bake the cookies for 10-15 mins at 350F in a preheated oven in the middle rack. As soon as the cookies begin to get golden brown at the edges, remove them and allow them to cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Note: When baking these cookies, I prefer to bake one sheet of cookies at a time in my oven. I usually cut the dough and split the cookies between two sheets and then refrigerate the sheet that I am not going to bake immediately.