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4 Time Winner

Checkerboard Cookies Tested Recipe

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Checkerboard Cookies Recipe

Checkerboard Cookies are so striking with their black and white checkerboard design that gives you both a chocolate and a vanilla cookie in one. These cookies have a soft yet chewy texture and are full of the flavors of vanilla, chocolate, orange, and hazelnut. This is a refrigerator or icebox cookie, by that I mean the batter is shaped into a log, refrigerated until firm, evenly sliced into cookies, and baked. What is so nice about these Checkerboard Cookies is that the unbaked log can be frozen, so you can bake the cookies on demand. This makes them very well suited for Christmas baking, as you can make the recipe up to a month in advance, freeze it, and then the just slice and bake the Checkerboard Cookies when you need them.    


As you can see from their design, Checkerboard Cookies do take a little time to make. This recipe is one I adapted from Nancy Baggett's excellent The International Chocolate Cookbook. They start with a basic vanilla dough that has a nice orange scent which comes from adding a little orange zest (outer orange skin of an orange). Once made the dough is divided in half and to one half is added finely ground hazelnuts and cocoa powder. The next step is to make the checkerboard design. To do this you first roll both the vanilla dough and the chocolate dough, chill both, and then the chocolate dough is stacked on top of the vanilla dough. Then, the cutting and stacking begins, so you end up with that wonderful checkerboard design. The final step is to wrap the log in extra chocolate dough. Most Checkerboard Cookies do not bother with this step, but I really like the finished look of the cookie. It reminds me of a Battenberg Cake, that is, when you look at the unbaked log you would never know what lies beneath. Just set aside a little time to make these cookies, and you will be rewarded with a delicious and stunning looking Checkerboard Cookie.

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Checkerboard Cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until brown and the skins start to blister. Remove from oven and wrap in a clean towel so the nuts can 'steam' for 5 minutes. Rub the towel briskly in a back and forth motion to remove the skins from the hazelnuts. When cool, place the hazelnuts in a food processor along with the cocoa powder and process until the hazelnuts are finely ground. 

In a small bowl whisk together the flour and salt. 

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 orange zest and beat until well blended. Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated. 

Divide the dough in half and place one half of the dough back into the bowl of your electric mixer. Add the cocoa and hazelnut mixture to the dough and beat until incorporated.  Set aside.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

Baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to one week.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Checkerboard Cookies:

1/3 cup (45 grams) hazelnuts

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

1 large egg

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest (outer orange skin)




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