Friday, January 14, 2011

Aspiring Bakers #3: CNY Cookies (2011) - Checkerboard Cookies (JOB)

There were no intentions to make any checkerboard cookies until Aunty A called me last Sunday.  I was brainstorming with her over the phone on how to get the checker effect but she doesn't quite understand me. Actually I wasn't quite sure of myself and since I wasn't planning to cook dinner, I decided to drop by her place to see if we can get it right.  After spending a good half an hour in her house, I left without seeing the final outcome as the dough was resting in the freezer, waiting to be sliced, and I had to go pack dinner.  Aunty A sent me an sms to let me know that it turned out pretty alright.  Now my hands are itching to try making some :P

I googled online and found this recipe by Joy of Baking.  There were no step-by-step pictures to show how this was done so I googled more and found this.  Paul attempted the same recipe and did it so beautifully.  Yes, I've got the steps almost correct at Aunty A's house except that I sliced the stack breadth-wise instead.  Silly me!

Though it looks difficult, it is actually not, just slightly time consuming as you need to chill the dough several times.  I like how these turn out and although I'm not a cookie person, I enjoy munching on them.  My kids love these too and kept asking for more :-)

I am submitting this to Aspiring Bakers # 3: My Favorite CNY Cookie (Jan 2011) hosted by j3ss kitch3n.

Adapted from Joy of Baking
Source: Baggett, Nancy. The International Chocolate Cookbook. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. New York: 1991.

For step-by-step pictures, please refer to Paul's blog here.

1/3 cup (45 grams) hazelnuts (I replaced with almonds)
2 tablespoons (15 grams) unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 1/2 cups (325 grams) all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar (I used 100g)
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I omit)
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest (I used lemon zest instead)

  1. Place the almonds and cocoa powder in a food processor and process until the almonds are finely ground. (I didn't bother to toast them)
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the flour and salt.
  3. In bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 to 3 minutes). Add the egg, vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat until well blended. Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated.
  4. Divide the dough into 2 portions (mine was 350g and  400g) and add the cocoa/almond mixture to the larger dough. Set aside.
  5. Lay out two large sheets of parchment paper (about 10 x 12 inch) (25 x 30 cm) and on one sheet of parchment roll out the white dough into a 6 1/2 inch by 10 1/2 inch (22 x 26 cm) rectangle, making sure both sides of the dough are smooth. Wrap dough and place on a baking sheet in the freezer for about 15 minutes or until dough is firm.
  6. Meanwhile, take the chocolate dough and remove 1/2 cup (used later for wrapping the checkerboard log) and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside. On the second sheet of parchment roll out the remaining chocolate dough into a 6 1/2 inch by 10 1/2 inch (22 x 26 cm) rectangle, making sure both sides of the dough are smooth. Wrap dough and place on a baking sheet in the freezer for about 15 minutes or until dough is firm.
  7. When both the white and chocolate dough are firm, remove from freezer and lay the white dough on a cutting board, removing the parchment paper. Lightly brush the top of the white dough with a little water (this helps the layers to stick together). Remove the parchment paper from the chocolate dough and place it evenly on top of the white dough. Trim the edges of the two doughs so the rectangle now measures 6 inches by 10 inches (21 x 25 cm). (Take the chocolate dough trimmings and add to the 1/2 cup of reserved chocolate dough.) Lengthwise cut the rectangle into thirds (3 - 2 inch by 10 inch stripes) (5 x 25 cm). Place one strip on a piece of plastic wrap. Brush the top of the dough with water and place the second strip on top of the first (alternate colors so you have white, black, white, black pattern). Brush the top of the second layer with water and stack the third layer. Press down lightly on the top of the dough and then wrap and freeze for 15 minutes, or until firm.
  8. When firm, remove from freezer and unwrap, placing the dough on a cutting board. Using a sharp long knife, cut the layers lengthwise into 1/2 inch (1 cm) wide and 10 inch (25 cm) long strips. (You will end up with 4 strips). Stack the layers, turning every other strip so top faces down and bottom faces up, to produce the checkerboard effect. Rewrap stack and place in freezer again to firm up.
  9. Meanwhile, take the reserved chocolate trimmings and 1/2 cup of chocolate dough and roll out on a piece of parchment paper into approximately 9 1/2 x 10 1/2 inch (24 x 26.25 cm) rectangle, making sure the dough is smooth. Cover and refrigerate until slightly firm.
  10. Remove stack of checkerboard dough from freezer and place in center of chocolate dough. Wrap the chocolate dough around the checkerboard layers until you have a smooth surface that encloses the checkerboard design. Wrap in plastic and freeze until firm. Can freeze dough for up to a month.
  11. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove dough from freezer and place on a cutting board. With a sharp knife cut the block of dough into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place on prepared baking sheet spacing about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Bake for about 5-8 minutes or until cookies just start to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.
  12. Baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to one week.


CaThY said...

Beautiful cookies, nicely done! thumbs up *^_^*

love melody, love baking said...

Hihi, am a newbie in baking and blogging.. Ur checkerboard cookies looks very nice!! I hv tried ur recipe on oatmeal cookie, n added u to my blog list ^^

WendyinKK said...

Oh, they look very nicely stacked and sliced.
Good Job!

sherlyn said...

哇,好像佷多工。But you did it so nicely.

DG said...

Impressive! You really put an effort to do your favourite cookies, but they're beautiful & looks yummy :)

Valentines Recipes said...

These are amazing! Picture perfect! Nice site...I love looking at baking and cooking pictures.

Lisa said...

I love the look of checkerboard cookies and with that chocolate vanilla combo this cookie sounds like the best of both worlds.

E. said...

If you ever want to impress someone, you should make these cookies. People would be flabbergasted by how there is a checker pattern :) They look great.

dailydelicious said...

I love checkerboard cookie, yours looks great.

Bakericious said...

looks like not an easy job to created the checkerboard design but looks so beautiful.

Aunty Liew said...

Recently i also busy baking cookies for Chinese New Year. Actually before this i also intend to make this type of checkerboard cookies,but i am worry it might not turn out the right shape,so i quit. Yours one really looks perfect and nice colour!

DG said...

Hi BH,
This afternoon, passed by DAISO - Plaza Singapura, I saw the ice tray that you looking for. Hope you find it soon, and my suggestion, try to buy at least two, so it's easier to make different colour :)

Blessed Homemaker said...


love melody, love baking,
Thanks for visiting and adding me.

Thanks, this is quite an effort for me and I'm glad I did it.

Blessed Homemaker said...

Sherlyn, DG, Valentines Recipes, Lisa, Esther, Pook & Jess,
Thanks for your kind words.

Edith said...

R, I was trying to make Checkerboard cookies using the German Sand cookie recipe. Mine was so ugly.

Thanks for the link, now I know how this is being done.

Blessed Homemaker said...

I've seen your German Sand Cookies, they don't look that bad.

I'm glad I found Paul's step by step guide, it's always easier to see pictures than to read lengthy text.

Anonymous said...

hi, is it possible to omit the nuts? your cookies look fantastic!:)

Blessed Homemaker said...

Yes, you may omit the nuts.