SMiLes by Meg

Checkerboards

Week 2 of cookies from my cookie boxes this year is checkerboards! When polling friends who got a box, this was a big favorite, which I think is probably more due to the fact that they look really impressive than anything else. Oh and also the butter.

I first made checkerboards in my pre-blog life sometime in college. Cate was visiting my parents’ house with me, and I remember making them at the kitchen counter while she made wedding cookies. Or maybe I’m totally making up this memory but I think that’s when I first made them. I was surprised I hadn’t put them on the blog yet, because they’re one of those cookies that yes, take a bit of time, but in reality aren’t that hard to make and are very easy to make look good.

I made this batch over a couple of days. Made the dough one day, assembled the logs another, and sliced and baked on a third. This kept the prep time down during actual Cookie Weekend, and gave me fun little breaks after work for a week.

So to start, make the dough. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, light brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs and vanilla and beat to combine, scraping down the sides as necessary.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add to the stand mixer and beat in gradually until dough comes together.

Divide dough in half in two separate bowls. In one bowl, add the melted chocolate, stirring to fully combine.

Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour or overnight.

Work with about 1/4 of a piece of dough at a time, keeping the rest of the dough in the refrigerator while you do so. Roll the dough out about 1/4 inch thick in a rectangle. Cut strips about 1/2 inch wide.

We rolled out between two pieces of parchment paper, which kept the mess down. Stack the strips in rows of 4 to make logs, alternating colors like this:

Repeat so that the log is four rows high, and looks like this from one end:

Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, until ready to bake.

When you are going to bake, it’s very easy. Take a serrated knife and cut into 1/2 inch slices, turning the log 1/4 turn after each cut to help it keep its shape. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

This dough is very reminiscent of slice and bake dough you probably ate by the log in high school with your friends if you were anything like me. Turns out Erik never had this experience, which I thought was fundamental to growing up, but he continues to surprise me.

Bake at 375°F for about 10 minutes, until edges are golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

These store well in a ziploc bag or airtight container for awhile. They’re a great little bite of something sweet when you need a pick me up.

And because they look cool, friends think they’re really impressive cookies.

Enjoy!

Checkerboards

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

Directions:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla extract and beat to combine, scraping down sides as needed.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add to stand mixer slowly, beating until fully incorporated.
  4. Divide dough between two bowls. Add melted chocolate to one bowl and stir to combine.
  5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  6. Working with 1/4 of a piece of dough at a time, roll dough into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick between two pieces of parchment paper. Cut dough into strips lengthwise about 1/2 inch thick.
  7. Assemble logs by alternating strips of dough to make 4 layers of 4 strips each. Press together lightly and wrap each log in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
  8. When ready to bake, slice dough into 1/2 inch slices and place 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for about 10 minutes, until golden around the edges. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

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