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: Chocolate Walnut Crinkles

On this third day of Cookie Palooza I bring you a cookie that I have made before… a chocolate crinkle cookie. This version though is a bit simpler to make and it has walnuts. I love walnuts in cookies and brownies.

To make the dough for the cookies I started by toasting the walnuts and melting unsweetened chocolate and butter together. Once the walnuts and chocolate mixture cooled I added it to a large bowl with flour, sugar, eggs, Dutch processed cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Using a handheld mixer I beat the ingredients until they were combined.

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Using a cookie scoop I scooped the dough and rolled it into a ball and then rolled it in confectioners’ sugar before placing them on a parchment lined baking sheet.

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I baked them in a preheated 300 F oven for about 15 minutes. After removing them from the oven I let them cool for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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While these cookies were good, I will say this… They are on the sweeter side so they are definitely meant for those who have a super sweet tooth!

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Chocolate Walnut Crinkles

Ingredients:

2oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted*

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon Dutch process cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Confectioners’ sugar, for rolling

*To toast the walnuts, I placed them on a cookie sheet and baked them in a 350 F oven for about 8 minutes.

Directions:

Position racks in the oven in the top and bottom thirds of the oven; preheat to 300 F.

Place the chocolate and butter in a small microwave safe bowl, microwaving on high for 30 second intervals, stirring after each 30 seconds, until melted. Let cool.

Scrape the melted chocolate into a large bowl and add in the flour, sugar, walnuts, eggs, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Using an electric handheld mixer, blend on medium speed until well blended.

Using a small cookie scoop (or about 2 teaspoons), scoop the dough and roll in confectioners’ sugar and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake until crackly on top and soft in the middle, rotating the sheets and reversing from the top to bottom racks halfway through baking, about 15 minutes. Let the cookies rest for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Rachael Ray

Triple Chocolate-Hazelnut Cookies

There are many perks to living on Long Island – being readily close to a beach (although I am not a beach person per se I more so enjoy going to a nearby marina and watching the water, it’s quite calming,) I can be in NYC in about an hour and I can also visit some great wineries an hour in the opposite direction. A group of friends and I make it a point at least once a year – especially when the weather starts to get warmer – to visit the wineries. Although it’s not always the Long Island ones, Hudson Valley also has some great ones that are within driving distance as well. We usually do a potluck of sorts in terms of bringing things to eat and I usually volunteer to bring dessert. Last weekend we had our wine outing and I decided to make a batch of Triple Chocolate-Hazelnut Cookies. These could also be coined “Death by Chocolate Cookies.” They are incredible chocolaty thanks to the three chocolates used: Bittersweet (the base of the cookie which prevents it from being overly sweet), white and milk chocolate.

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My weekdays are usually split into three parts: Errands in the morning, midday, errands in the afternoon. I was squeezing baking these cookies into that midday part so I was pretty focused on getting my measurements for my ingredients ready prior to mixing. Not to say that I am usually a scatter brain baker, but, I usually assemble my ingredients together and then measure as I go along.

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I began by melting chopped bittersweet chocolate with unsalted butter in the microwave in 30-second intervals. You may be tempted to up the time for melting chocolate, but, it really is important to do so in shorter increments and whisking the chocolate between each of the intervals. By upping the time you may end up scorching the chocolate… I speak from experience. Once the chocolate and butter were melted I added in vanilla extract and whisked the mixture until it was smooth.

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Next, I beat two large eggs on medium speed with my stand mixer until they were foamy. Following that I gradually added in sugar until the mixture was thick and pale yellow.

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I then added in the melted chocolate mixture and then a flour mixture (flour, baking powder and salt) and continued mixing until it was just combined.

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And finally I folded in the hazelnuts (which I had blanched & toasted) and white and milk chocolate chips.

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My batter was then ready…

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I dropped the batter by tablespoonful onto parchment lined baking sheets. One thing I did notice was that as the batter sat it became thicker so next time I make these cookies I’ll let the batter sit for a few minutes before dropping them onto the cookie sheets.

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I baked the cookies in a preheated 350 F oven for about 12 minutes and then let them cool on the sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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After they were cooled I packed them up for the following day’s adventure.

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Overall, these cookies are winning recipe that I will be making again. As for the wine tasting, it was a great day as always. Some of the wine we tried was good, some, I don’t ever need to try again, but what makes the day great is being with wonderful friends and enjoying views like these!

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And seeing cute signs like this…

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Triple Chocolate-Hazelnut Cookies

Makes: 24 Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup blanched hazelnuts, chopped

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and baked then until golden, about 7 minutes. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the bittersweet chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, whisking, until melted. Add the vanilla and continue whisking until smooth, set aside.

3. Beat the eggs in a large with a mixer on medium speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until thick and pale yellow, about 6 minutes. Gradually add the melted chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Reduce the mixer to speed to low and add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Fold in the hazelnuts and chocolate chips.

4. Drop the batter by tablespoonful 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are slightly puffed and crackly, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on the sheets, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Marbled Cookies

Another month has rolled in and it’s not just any month, it’s December – the month where everywhere you look there is something sweet to eat and it’s almost impossible to say no to all of the deliciousness. One thing synonymous with December is baking, especially baking Christmas cookies. Personally I don’t think Christmas cookies are limited to those decorated with red and green sprinkles, for me it’s any cookie baked  this month – hey, it’s Christmas season, not just the day. So to kick off the baking festivities I would like to share with you a cookie that is right up my alley. I may have mentioned once or twice before that my favorite candy is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, so imagine my delight when I came across a cookie recipe that was a swirl of chocolate and peanut butter flavors. (I should also note that I am a big fan of peanut butter cookies as well!) The recipe is officially called Best of Both Cookies and I came across it in a special edition of Taste of Home magazine highlighting Christmas cookies and candies, but, for the purpose of this post I am going to call them Peanut Butter & Chocolate Marbled Cookies.

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I’ll be honest I was a bit apprehensive about making these cookies for two reasons; they are slice and bake cookies (I prefer making drop and bake cookies) and it involved making two separate doughs and then mixing them together (I thought the doughs would be difficult to meld.) Luckily I was wrong on both fronts. Incorporating the two doughs and forming them into logs to be sliced was super simple.  First up was the peanut butter dough. I creamed together peanut butter, softened butter, granulated sugar and light brown sugar until it was light and fluffy and then added in an egg. In a separate bowl I combined flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt which I then mixed into the peanut butter mixture.

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To make the chocolate dough I creamed together butter, granulated sugar and light brown sugar once again until it was light and fluffy. I then added in an egg and vanilla extract. And finally I added in a mixture a of flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

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I divided each of the doughs in half and kneaded one peanut butter half and one chocolate half a few times until it began to swirl and then formed the combined doughs into a 10-inch log.

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I then wrapped each of the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerated them until they were firm – at least 3 hours.

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Once firm it was easy to slice the dough for the cookies.

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I then placed them on a parchment lined baking sheet and baked them for 7 minutes in a 350 F preheated oven.

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I let them cool on the sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Overall these cookies were amazing… Not one thing negative to say about them. Depending on how the doughs swirl together you may get a cookie that is more peanut butter than chocolate or vice versa, but, either way it’ll be delicious. Neither of the doughs is overpowering with flavor so it’s the perfect marrying of peanut butter and chocolate!

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Peanut Butter & Chocolate Marbled Cookies (Best of Both Cookies)

Ingredients:

Peanut Butter Dough:

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Dough:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup baking cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, cream the peanut butter, butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in egg. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

2. For the chocolate dough, in another large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

3. Divide each portion in half. Knead one peanut butter and one chocolate portion together 5-10 times or until it just begins to swirl. Shape into a 10-inch log. Wrap in plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining dough. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until firm.

4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Unwrap and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Place 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets (or parchment lined baking sheets.) Bake 6-8 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.