Cookie Palooza: Checkerboard Cookies

It’s Day 3 of Cookie Palooza and once again I am bringing you a cookie that looks difficult to make but really isn’t, a Checkerboard Cookie. Normally I avoid making slice and bake cookies. Mine never end up looking like a perfect circle, but more like an oval. They taste good, but, the shape is off. I prefer drop cookies and occasionally I will make roll-out cookies. But, I am trying to step up my baking and challenge myself a little more and figure out ways to overcome the pitfalls that I encounter when I try different things in the kitchen. Sounds a little silly since I am just talking about simple cookies, but, it’s a good attitude to adopt to face other challenges that life may throw at you. So, I figured these Checkerboard Cookies were a good way to overcome my avoidance of slice and bake cookies. They are simple to make, are pretty forgiving in terms of their shape once sliced and are pretty impressive looking.

To make the dough I combined butter, sugar and vanilla extract and beat it until it was light and fluffy. I then added in flour and an egg and continued mixing until the dough came together. Finally, I divided the dough in half and transferred one half to a piece of parchment paper and left the other half in the bowl I made the dough in. To the bowl I added unsweetened dark cocoa powder and used a rubber spatula to fold the powder into the dough making sure it was fully incorporated and no streaks of the plain dough remained.

Next, I divided the plain dough in half and rolled each piece into a 12-inch log. I did the same with the chocolate dough. I placed one plain log and one chocolate log next to each other on the piece of parchment paper and then placed the remaining 2 logs on top of them alternating the dough. I then wrapped the dough in the parchment paper and rolled it a few times to smooth the dough and to make sure all 4 pieces were pressed together well. Finally I placed the dough in the refrigerator until it was firm, at least an hour.

Once firm, I removed the dough from the refrigerator and sliced a small piece from both ends of the log so it would have straight ends. Next, using a ruler and a sharp knife I scored the dough before actually slicing the cookies. You want to work pretty fast as the dough will begin to soften and your slices will become more oval-like than square as the dough warms up. If this happens you can place the dough back in the refrigerator for a few minutes to firm up again, or, simply flip the log so the bottom is now the top.

 

I placed the slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and placed it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes before baking in a 350 F preheated oven for 12 minutes.

While some of my cookies didn’t have a perfect checkerboard look to them – partly because each of my logs wasn’t the same width – they did taste delicious and the shape wasn’t completely off.  These would be a nice addition to any cookie platter you are making this holiday season. Here’s a fun idea, instead of mixing half of the dough with cocoa powder you could tint one half of the dough red and the other green for a real festive checkerboard cookie!

Checkerboard Cookies

  • Servings: 40 cookies
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Ingredients:

1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups flour

1 egg

2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder

 

Directions:

In a large bowl beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Sift the flour 3 times and add half of it to the butter mixture, beating until just combined. Add the remaining flour and the egg and beat until combined, about 2 minutes.

Divide the dough in half and transfer one piece to a sheet of parchment paper. Leave the other half in the bowl and add in the cocoa powder. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dough and cocoa powder together until no streaks of the plain dough remain.

Divide each piece of dough (plain and chocolate) in half. Roll each of these pieces into a 12-inch log. Place one plain and one chocolate log next to each other on the piece of parchment paper. Place the other two logs on top of them, alternating the pattern to create the checkerboard pattern. The chocolate log should be on top of the plain log and the plain log should be on top of the chocolate one. Wrap the log in the parchment paper and press each of the logs together while rolling and smoothing the edges. Place in the refrigerator until firm, at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line two cookies sheets with parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap it. Using a sharp knife (and a ruler if necessary) slice the log into 1/4 inch slices and place on the parchment lined cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Bake until the cookies are just beginning to turn golden brown around the edges, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for five minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe from Nik Sharma

Cookie Palooza: Bakery Style Butter Sandwich Cookies

Welcome to Day 2 of Cookie Palooza 2018! Today I am bringing you a traditional butter bakery cookie. Not the round ones covered in sprinkles, but the long sandwich ones that are filled with jam, dipped in chocolate and then rolled in sprinkles. YUM! It’s actually one of my favorite cookies, but it wasn’t always. I used to buy a package of butter cookies from my local Costco and I would always eat the round ones with the sprinkles from the package, leaving the sandwich ones for my parents to eat. Then one day I tried them and realized that they tasted much better than the other ones. Unfortunately Costco changed their supplier and the new ones they carry do not taste half as good. They taste more artificial. Thankfully this homemade version fills the void.

You may be slightly intimidated to make these cookies, but don’t be. They are super simple and don’t require any special ingredients. The hardest part is squeezing the dough out of the piping bag onto the prepared baking sheet. But after a few squeezes the dough softens up and it becomes easier and you soon get the hang of it. Using a Wilton 6B Tip I piped the dough into 2-inch pieces on a parchment lined cookie sheet. To end the dough for each cookie you can cut them with a knife or scissors. What I did is a little harder explain. I kind of nudged the tip into the cookie sheet to end it. I tried using a knife and it just wasn’t working for me. After you have piped all of your cookies bake them in a 350 F preheated oven for about 12 minutes. Let them cool completely and then the fun begins, the assembling.

Before assembling I did my best to par up similar sized cookies. If they were off a little in length I dipped the mismatched end in the melted chocolate so no one would be the wiser. Next, I filled a piping bag with about half a cup of seedless raspberry jam to a piping bag (you could also use a small sandwich bag) and snipped off a small piece of the end. I piped a single line of jam down the center of one half of each cookie. I didn’t want to add too much jam as I didn’t want the jam to ooze out of the sides once the cookie was pressed together.

Once I had all of my cookies sandwiches together I melted a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave in a deep enough bowl that would allow me to dip the cookies at least a third of the way in. To ensure that I didn’t scorch the chocolate, I melted it at 30 second intervals and stirred between each. Once the chocolate was about 3/4 quarters of the way melted I continued stirring it to melt the rest of it. You could also melt the chocolate in a small saucepan on your stovetop if you choose. Just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. In a shallow bowl I poured out some sprinkles- you will need a decent amount. I also lined two baking sheets with wax paper to place the cookies once they were decorated. I began by dipping a cookie in the chocolate, allowing the excess to drip off. I actually used a knife to wipe off some of the excess. If you leave too much chocolate on the sprinkles will just slide off. Next I rolled the cookie in the sprinkles and placed it on the prepared baking sheet. Once I was done I placed the baking sheets in the refrigerator for a few minutes so the chocolate could set.

And there you have it…. Easy to make fancy bakery cookies that will impress everyone you share them with!

Butter Sandwich Cookies

Ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

2 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

Filling & Decorating:

1/2 cup jam (flavor of your choice)

1 cup sprinkles

12 ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat on medium speed with a hand mixer until well combined. Add the egg yolks, vanilla extract and salt and beat until combined, scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Fit a star tip with a 1/2-inch opening on a piping bag and snip off the end. Transfer the batter to the bag.

Pipe the dough into 2 inch long segments about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. You can use a knife or scissor to cut the pieces. Bake the cookies for 11 to 13 minutes, until they are golden at the edges.

Let them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Set aside the parchment lined baking sheets.

Place the jam in a sandwich bag (or another piping bag) and place the sprinkles in a shallow dish.

Once the cookies are cool, flip half of them over and snip a small corner of the jam filled bag. Squeeze a little jam down the center of each flipped cookie. Don’t squeeze too much jam on the cookies as you don’t want it to ooze out when sandwiched. Top with the other half of the cookie.

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave or a small saucepan until they are three-quarters of the way melted and then stir to melt it completely. Place the chocolate in a bowl deep enough for dipping the cookies about a third of the way in. Dip the sandwiched cookies into the melted chocolate, letting the excess drip off, and then roll in the sprinkles. Place on the baking sheet. Once all cookies have been decorated place the cookie sheets in the refrigerator so the chocolate can set.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Rosemary and Pine Nut Cookies

December has rolled in, and you know what means… The Holidays are in full force! Everywhere you look there is red and green, Christmas trees, Snowmen, Poinsettias and Dessert! Specifically cookies. There is something about this time of year that makes all of kinds of cookies come out of the woodwork. Okay, maybe that’s not a great way of saying it, but, you catch my drift. Desserts go into overdrive this time of the year. Not that I am complaining though. I do my part and join in on the fun and add to that dessert pile. So, be on the lookout for some new cookie recipes hitting my blog over the next few weeks. The recipes are ones that I have had for quite some time – did I ever mention that I am bit of a recipe hoarder, thankfully they are all nicely organized – but I have never tried making. Well, as they say there’s no time like the present. No pun intended.

Now, you know how they say “Don’t knock it till you try it,” well, I definitely think these cookies could fall into that category. They are a buttery and crisp Rosemary and Pine Nut Cookie. Yes, you read that correctly… Rosemary in a sweet and buttery cookie. Rosemary is not just a wonderful and flavorful herb to add your meats, it can be used in baking and with the right amount it’s not overpowering but instead a welcomed addition. I may have to look for a few more baking recipes that incorporate it. Especially since I have a lovely rosemary plant growing in my kitchen. I originally planted it outside over the summer and since it was growing so well I decided to repot it and bring it indoors.

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For these cookies the key to using the Rosemary is making sure that you chop it first and then combine it with sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse it until the rosemary is finely chopped. You definitely don’t want to take a bite of any cookie and get a nice whole piece of rosemary in it. That would definitely be overpowering.

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Once that is done you beat it with butter until it’s fluffy and then add in vanilla extract and eggs. Next add in toasted pine nuts that have been finely chopped in a food processor and finally a mixture of flour, baking soda and salt. Once the dough comes together dump it on a sheet of plastic wrap…

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And form it into a log and wrap it up. I then placed it in the refrigerator for two hours so it could firm up. Once it was slightly firm I removed it from the refrigerator to shape it a little better and then placed in back in the refrigerator.

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After the two hours I sliced the dough into discs about 1/4 inch thick. Unfortunately I didn’t really form my log correctly so my cookies were not perfectly round. I pressed a few toasted pine nuts onto the cookies and baked them in a 350 F preheated oven for 10 minutes.

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I let them cool on the pan for 10 minutes and then transferred them to a wire rack so they could cool completely.

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And I must say these are one of the best cookies I’ve ever had! The butter, pine nuts and rosemary work so well together. And they tasted even better the second day. The flavors only get stronger but in a good way!

 

 

Rosemary and Pine Nut Cookies

  • Servings: 30 cookies
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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted*

 

*To toast the pine nuts spread them on a baking sheet and bake them in a 350 F preheated oven for about 5-7 minutes.

 

Directions:

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt until well blended, set aside.

In a food processor pulse the sugar and rosemary until well combined and the rosemary is finally chopped. Transfer to a stand mixer. Put all but 2 tablespoons of the pine nuts in the food processor and process until finely chopped.

Add the butter to the rosemary mixture and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and add in the egg and vanilla extract, beat until combined. Add the chopped pine nuts and then the flour mixture and mix until the dough absorbs the flour and become to come together. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and form it into a log about 2 inches thick and 11 inches long. Wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1 to 2 hours. If the dough is too soft to form a log, refrigerate for about 30 minutes, remove from the refrigerator form it and then place it back in the refrigerator.

Once firm cut the dough into discs between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick and place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Sprinkle the cookies with the whole pine nuts, lightly pressing them into the dough. Bake in a 350 F preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on the sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Fine Cooking

Hazelnut Pistachio Butter Cookies

These cookies have been on my baking-to-do-list for a few months now… Ever since a good friend brought be a box of them from her local supermarket down in Virginia. I had one of them and was in heaven. Hazelnuts, pistachios and confectioners’ sugar… How could it not be delicious!?! To create my own version I decided to tweak a recipe for Mexican Wedding Cookies that I had made for Cinco De Mayo last year. Those cookies are made with pecans so I decided to swap those out with an equal amount of hazelnuts and pistachios.

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I began by chopping up a 1/2 cup each of hazelnuts and pistachios.

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I set the nuts aside and began making the dough for the cookies by creaming together butter and confectioners’ sugar and then adding in vanilla extract.

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With the mixer on low speed I added in the flour.

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And finally I folded in the hazelnuts and pistachios.

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Using a cookie scoop I scooped the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet and baked the cookies in a 275 F preheated oven for 35 minutes, until the bottoms were just beginning to brown.

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After letting them cool for a few minutes I sprinkled them with confectioners’ sugar.

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These cookies are super simple to make but big on taste!

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Hazelnut Pistachio Butter Cookies – Adapted from here

Makes 20 cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for coating cookies

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped into small pieces

1/2 cup pistachios, chopped into small pieces

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 275 F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at low speed until smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract.

3. At low speed gradually add in the flour.

4. Using a spatula, fold in the hazelnut and pistachios.

5. Using a cookie scoop scoop the dough onto the parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 35 minutes.

6. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool for a few minutes before using a sifter to dust them with confectioners’ sugar.