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

Cookie Palooza: Peanut Butter Espresso Cookies

It’s that time of year again… Everywhere you look there is sweet treats to be had or you yourself are about to start some holiday baking. Well, I am here to help. It’s my 3rd annual Cookie Palooza and I am kicking it off with Peanut Butter Espresso Cookies. Before you make a face or think I am a little nutty (some pun intended with that one) I will say don’t knock the flavor combination until you try it. It’s actually quite good and the coffee flavor becomes more pronounced – but not in a bad way – by the second day. And if you’re planning on leaving cookies out for Santa these may help him get the jolt of caffeine he needs to deliver all those toys (or for you to put together those impossible toys you just don’t want to deal with on Christmas morning and would rather have assembled and ready to go with a bow on the under the tree).

What’s really nice about these cookies that the recipe only requires one bowl (less clean-up is always a good thing) to come together. No mixing flour and spices in a separate bowl as these cookies are gluten free. So, those of you who have a gluten allergy can partake in your holiday cookie indulgence without worry. The key to these cookies is natural peanut butter. The exact amount is 16 oz. and thankfully that’s an easy sized jar to find at your local supermarket, I used Smucker’s branch. Make sure you read the label on the brand you buy. The first brand I picked up said peanut butter spread and it was labeled as natural peanut butter. Peanut butter spread is not the same as actual peanut butter. It actually contains about 30% less peanuts and that difference can be supplemented with Trans fats that are not healthy.

Natural peanut butter separates so when you open the jar there will be a layer of oil on top. Don’t be concerned with mixing the peanut butter to incorporate the oil. Just pour it into the bowl you’re using to make the dough along with the peanut butter and the remaining ingredients and the oil will incorporate as you mix all of your ingredients together. This is exactly what I did. After making the dough, I then used a cookie scoop to scoop the dough and shaped it into balls that I then rolled in a sugar espresso coating. And for that traditional peanut butter cookie look I flattened the cookies with a crisscross pattern using the tines of a ford. I baked them for 11 minutes in a 350 F preheated oven and then let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Definitely allow them to cool for a few minutes before transferring them so the cookies can set. If you transfer them too quickly the cookies will break, you’ll still have delicious cookies, but, they will be more like cookies pieces.

Peanut Butter Espresso Cookies

  • Servings: 28 Cookies
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Ingredients:

1 16 oz. jar natural peanut butter

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder*

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Sugar-Espresso Coating:

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons espresso powder*

*I use Bustelo coffee

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the peanut butter, brown sugar, and sugar and stir with a rubber spatula until combined. Add the eggs, vanilla, salts and espresso powder and continue stirring with the rubber spatula until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

In a small combine the ingredients for the coating.

Using a cookie scoop to scoop the dough and then shape into balls. Rolls the cookies in the sugar-espresso mixture and then transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Place the cookies about 2 inches apart. Using the tines of a fork, flatten each cookie creating a crisscross pattern. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completed.

Recipe from Real Simple

Cookie Palooza – Lemon Ricotta Cookies

Lemon Ricotta… A flavor combination I first had in the form of pancakes and was instantly hooked so when I saw a cookie recipe using the two I knew I had to try it. A few things to note, these cookies are soft, almost cake-like. They kind of remind me of muffies – aka the top of a muffin. And while I am not one for glazes, I usually leave my baked good unglazed when a recipe calls for it, these cookies definitely need the glaze. Not because they are not delish without it – I tried one before glazing and it was good as is – but when I added the glaze the lemon flavor was kicked up a notch, but, not to the point that it was overbearing.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies Lemon Glaze

  • Servings: 40 cookies
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Ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 15 oz. container whole milk ricotta cheese

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)

1 lemon, zested

 

Glaze:

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 lemon, zested

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375F.

In medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beat the mixture well so all of the ingredients are incorporate.

Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice & zest. Beat to combine and then stir in the dry ingredients (the flour mixture.)

Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough – about 2 tablespoons for each cookie – onto the baking sheets. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden. Remove from the oven and the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 20 minutes.

During the 20 minutes make the glaze: Combine the all of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to smooth the glaze over the cookie. Let the cookies sit for 2 hours so the glaze can harden.

Recipe from Food Network

Cookie Palooza: Dulce De Leche Thumbprint Cookies

Cookie Palooza continues today with these Dulce De Leche Thumbprint Cookies. Thumbprint cookies offer a delicious double-punch… The cookie itself is great and the filling adds additional flavor to it. Not a fan of dulce de leche, try these with your favorite jam or a chocolate filling.

Dulce De Leche Thumbprint Cookies

  • Servings: 36 cookies
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Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 oz. dulce de leche

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, on medium-high speed. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Add in the flour and salt and mix until well-blended and dough comes together in a ball.

Form the dough into 1-inch balls and arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Flatten the balls with the palm of your hand and then using a 1/2 teaspoon or your thumb make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and gently press the indentation once again to redefine it. Fill each indentation with about 1/2 teaspoon of dulce de leche and return to the oven for 3 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Love and Olive Oil

 

Cookie Palooza: Peanut Butter Crinkles

It’s the first week of December! Are you even remotely ready for the holidays? Have you thought about what you are baking? If not, I am here to help this week. Welcome to my 2nd Cookie Palooza. A week full of cookies… Kicking it off are Peanut Butter Crinkles. A twist on the more popular Chocolate Crinkles.

Made with peanut butter – of course – and mini chocolate chips these cookies are rolled in granulated and confectioners’ sugar for a little extra sweetness prior to baking. If you’re craving more chocolate in your cookie opt to use regular size chocolate chips as opposed to the mini ones. You do get a chocolate taste with the mini ones, but, it’s more of a hint so little so that you wouldn’t miss it if you omitted them from the batter completely.

Peanut Butter Crinkles

  • Servings: 36 cookies
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Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting

Directions:

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk the dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt – in a medium bowl.

In another bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar and peanut butter with a mixer until creamy on medium speed. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and continue beating until combined. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, beat until well blended. Add the chocolate chips and beat until combined.

Put the granulated and confectioners’ sugar in separate bowls. Roll tablespoonful of dough into balls and then roll in the granulated sugar and then the confectioners’ sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes, switching the pans halfway through, until the cookies are firm around edges and cracked on top. Let cool a few minutes on the baking sheets before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust the cookies with more confectioners’ sugar if desired.

Recipe from The Food Network

Cookie Palooza: Chocolate-Mint Thumbprints

I hope you have enjoyed my Cookie Palooza and that one of these cookie recipes will be one that you try or has inspired you to create something totally your own. On this final day of Cookie Palooza I bring you a cookie with a flavor of the season, peppermint. A Chocolate-Mint Thumbprint to be precise. And don’t worry, the peppermint flavor isn’t overpowering as some peppermint-flavored things are.

After sifting flour and cocoa powder together in a medium bowl, I creamed butter and confectioners’ sugar together in a large bowl and then added in vanilla extract and salt. Once the butter mixture was well blended I added in the flour mixture and continued mixing using my handheld mixer on low speed until the dough formed. I chilled the dough for about 40 minutes until it was firm enough to roll into balls, but, not so cold that I would have to “defrost” it once out of the fridge.

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I rolled teaspoonfuls of the dough into balls and placed them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Next, I pressed straight down the middle of each ball with a floured finger – you could also use the end of a wooden spoon – almost to the cookie sheet to make a deep well. After baking the cookies in a 350 F preheated oven for about 8 minutes, I redefined the indentations with the end of a wooden spoon. I let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet so they could set and then transferred them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Once the cookies were completely cooled I made the filling. I created my own double-boiler by bringing a pot of water to a simmer and then placed semisweet chocolate chips and unsalted butter in a heat proof bowl and set it over the simmering water. I began stirring the mixture with a rubber spatula and after a few minutes, before the mixture was completed melted, I removed it from the simmering water and continued stirring the mixture until it melted and then stirred in peppermint mixture. I let the mixture cool for about a half hour – until it was warm and slightly thickened…

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And then transferred it to a decorator bottle. You could also transfer the chocolate to a decorator bag with a small tip attached or a resealable bag with a small portion of the corned snipped off. I then piped the chocolate into the wells of the cookies.

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I’ll be the first to admit that my thumbprints came out a bit wonky looking, but, that didn’t detract from how yummy they were with just the right balance of chocolate and peppermint.

 

Chocolate-Mint Thumbprints

Ingredients:

For the Cookies:

1 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder

3/4 cup (6 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon table salt

For the Mint-Filling:

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

Directions:

For the Cookies:

Sift the flour and cocoa powder together into a medium bowl. Using a handheld mixer (or stand mixer with the paddle attachment) cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and salt, continue beating until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until the dough comes together. Chill the dough in the refrigerator until the dough is firm enough to roll into balls, about 40 to 60 minutes.

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

Roll heaping teaspoonfuls of dough into balls and place them on the parchment paper about 2-inches apart. With a lightly floured thumb or fingertip (or the end of thick-handled wooden spoon), press straight down into the middle of each ball, almost to the cookie sheet, to make a deep well.

Bake for 8 to 9 minutes. Gently redefine the wells using the end of a wooden spoon. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Filling:

Put the chocolate and butter in heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir with a heatproof spatula until the chocolate is almost melted. Remove from the heat and continue stirring until melted and smooth. Stir in the peppermint extract. Let cool for about 30 to 40 minutes, until the mixture is slightly warmer than room temperature and it has begun to thicken. Spoon the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip or into a resealable bag with a corner snipped off and pipe the filling into the center of each cookie. Let the filling set completely before storing.

Recipe from Fine Cooking