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Thursday, November 6, 2008

baking for Amie: Checkered Cookies

the Baking Gals are at it again! round 4 is underway and i baked my cookies this week. not only was i going to send cookies to our soldier, amie, but i wanted to send a care package to pammie in school. she finished off her ginger-chip cookies. i love killing two birds with one stone, two care packages of cookies, but baking only once... well... not once but you know what i mean. for this round, i made the same NY Chocolate Chip cookies. i had made a batch some weeks ago and had three rolls in the freezer. sigh, i love being prepared. my 2nd cookie was the checkered cookies that i saw on one of the food porn sites. the moment i laid eyes on these cookies, i immediately had to send the link to kelcy and shannalee. as in, i was a nerd, and started drooling and had heart palpitations over it. i would imagine it was like cookie love at first sight.

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Checkerboard Cookies
shameless and futile attempt at copying Baking Obsession

(vera graciously included a diagram when i told her i was inept at picturing it properly in my head. i tried to take pictures of all the steps. this recipe took me about 3 days to complete, and in that span of time, my camera was stolen so some of the shots were with my old PS, my roommate's camera phone and jab's PS canon)

Makes about 8 dozens

Ingredients:

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

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and mix to combine. Finish the mixing with your hands or a wooden spoon.

Divide the dough in half. Knead ½ cup of cocoa into one portion of the dough.





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Divide the chocolate and vanilla dough in half. Form each of total four portions into a rectangle, wrap individually in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to a day.





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Before proceeding, take one portion of the chocolate and one portion of the vanilla dough and let them sit on the counter for about 15-20 minutes to soften slightly. On parchment paper (preferred) or a lightly floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll one portion of the vanilla and one portion of the chocolate dough (separately, of course) into ½ -inch thick rectangles, with the sides about 12 x 5 inches long. Using a pizza wheel (such a wonderful tool for this job) cut out total of 9 ½ -inch wide strips from the each dough. Handling the strips delicately, form two checkerboard logs alternating the chocolate and vanilla strips (see the photo of the finished cookies). I never use an egg white or water to adhere the strips one to another. If you don’t use a lot of flour during the dough rolling it’s not necessary, everything stays together without any problem. Cover with plastic wrap or parchment paper and refrigerate until firm, at least for 2 hours.





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When ready to continue, on the parchment paper roll the remaining chocolate (or vanilla) dough into a rectangle about 1/3-inch thick and measuring 12 x 6 inches. Place the firmed checkerboard log into the center, long sides parallel, and with aid of parchment, wrap the dough around the checkerboard log pressing firmly to adhere. Roll the finished log from side to side to form sharp corners. Wrap in the parchment and/or plastic and refrigerate well. The best would be to leave the formed cookie log in the refrigerator overnight. Don’t rush if you are after the uniform shape of the cookies. Repeat with the rest of the dough and the second chilled checkerboard log to form another, opposite in colors, cookie log. Wrap, place in the fridge. As I mentioned, you can freeze the logs. Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before using.





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When ready to bake, center an oven rack and 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 a baking sheet on a rack for 15 minutes. Then transfer the cookies to the rack and cool completely.





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verdict:
i love them. they weren't too sweet and they garnered a massive amount of cookies! my first dozen were burned (i blame my roommate/sous chef. she was supposed to man the oven) but the rest were so good. i am annoyed with myself that they turned out more rectangle than square. the logs didn't exactly meld together like i had wanted, there were spaces in the middle that was not pleasing to my eye, i'll lay off the flour shower next time. i plan on making another batch to keep in the freezer for fast baking. with the holidays coming up quick, these treats would make cute little presents/packages. and if i planned it just right, i could make the dough beforehand and give them as presents, pre-baked. it's so prep-intensive, i bet some of my local friends would like these cookies to have on hand to bake for themselves when they were ready...

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Shannalee of Food Loves Writing sent her cookies to Amie on election day ...

Stephanie of The Hills are Burning sent her cookies yesterday ...

Today's Soundtrack: Skye Edwards (formerly of Morcheeba), Love Show

"Stand still./Breath in/Are you listening?/It's painless/Letting your love show..."


5 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you baked them, and liked them! They sure look great! Thank you!

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  2. Um, seriously? GORGEOUS! You're awesome and I'm so impressed!

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  3. wow what a fabulous job. I've always thought these look way too difficult and scary for me... again, with your inspiring talents. :)

    yum!

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  4. Wow those are beautiful cookies and I bet they will be a HUGE hit! I got mine out yesterday just got to get the pics up!

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  5. thanks ladies! i'll be tweeking this recipe a bit for the holidays. i looooove these cookies!

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