As part of my annual Christmas baking haul, I finally decided that this was the year to carpe that diem and make some checkerboard cookies. I always thought these were so pretty and I figured if I failed I could just give them to many a “taste testers” in my life (aka my husband).
I pulled the recipe off one of my favorite gurus, Martha Stewart. Now that I’ve finished them I can say that I would definitely make them again and they’ll be much easier the second time around. However here were a couple things I learned that may help you if you ever decide to make these. Here we go.
Step 2: The recipe’s not kidding when it says that the dough will be loose and crumbly, and I had doubts that this would become a nice ball of cookie dough. However I kneaded it as it instructed and it eventually did become nice and soft and held together. I found it took me longer than the 1-2 minute range the recipe gave, though. I’m probably just a weaksauce at kneading. However once you get all the kneading down (for both the white and for the cocoa halves), you should get something like this:
I wrapped one ball of dough in plastic wrap while I worked on rolling and cutting out the other ball of dough to prevent the outside from drying.
Step 3: When it says “place each half of the kneaded dough between two sheets of plastic,” they also weren’t kidding, and I also now know they probably meant plastic wrap.
I started working on the chocolate dough first and thought it would be sufficient to put it on my plastic mat with the grid lines. It wasn’t till I had to lift off the strips of dough that I realized it was sticking to the mat. The result: one side looked bumpy and ugly as bits of dough came off of it as I lifted it; I had to do damage control to smooth it out again. In the grand scheme of things it didn’t really affect the final product but it just bugged me more than anything.
However, I learned my lesson for the white dough and rolled it between two pieces of plastic wrap and it peeled off nice and easy.
I rolled the dough out to the 3/8″ thickness as instructed, and used a clean ruler to measure out the 7×7″ square first before cutting it into strips. Below you can see the cut lines of the 7×7″ square. I can’t stress how handy it was to have a ruler (and these gridlines on the mat) to do this with.
Below you can see the white dough cut into the 3/4″ wide strips. If you use a ruler and mark off the tops and bottoms before cutting it down the length of the dough, it’ll ensure that you cut your strips straight, and prevent yourself from cutting wonky(which I’m good at doing.)
Step 4: With both strips cut, I started stacking the strips into the checkerboard effect, brushing the tops and in betweens with the egg wash. Although I had put plastic wrap on the bottom, I still left the plastic mat underneath because it helped make sure I laid my strips down straight.
Here is the first assembled log. Here is where you can see what I was talking about, with my chocolate dough being bumpy by not putting it on plastic wrap. You can see the white strips are much more smooth. Ah well.
Step 5: When you take them out of the freezer, trim off the ugly end bits, but I still bake them because they end up being my samples to make sure they taste alright. Before I unwrapped them, I took advantage of the fact that they were firmed up in the freezer and lightly hit each side against the counter surface to make it as rectangular shaped as possible.
I then took a clean sharp knife and started slicing them into 1/4″ thick slices.
Here are the cut cookies assembled on parchment paper, ready to go into the oven.
They look pretty much the same as when they go into the oven, maybe with them a little more puffed out. I think next time I won’t roll the dough as flat that way they can be a bit more square. These turned out a bit more rectangular than I preferred, but for a first attempt I’m not complaining!
I think this checkerboard look could be fun to play around with, wouldn’t these be even more Christmas-y if they were red and white? Hope these little tips help you if you give these a try and I’d love to see how creations turn out! Happy baking!