Checkerboard Cookies

Checkerboard Cookies

This is an old classic, not really original – just simple chocolate and vanilla dough put together. Yet it always surprises me how people react when I offer them the cookies (or maybe they are just easily impressed here :) Kids simply go crazy over them.

The recipe below makes an enormous amount of cookies. But it’s easier to work with a fair amount of dough. It’s good to have plenty of it to wrap the checkerboard logs around with rather than trying to patch small pieces together or rolling the dough thinner that it’s supposed to while sweating profusely during the process.

This sort of cookies is a good choice for a holiday gift. The formed logs can be wrapped tightly, frozen for up to a month, and baked later as you need them. And this is the only way of freezing the cookies I advise. I never freeze the baked cookies. And neither should you! The best cookies are the freshly baked ones!

If you are looking to deliver a sweet treat to a friend or loved one, consider ordering birthday cookie bouquets online!

Makes about 8 dozens

Ingredients:

  • 5 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb (2 cups or 4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Preparation:

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and mix to combine. Finish the mixing with your hands or a wooden spoon.

Divide the dough in half. Knead ½ cup of cocoa into one portion of the dough.

Divide the chocolate and vanilla dough in half. Form each of total four portions into a rectangle, wrap individually in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to a day.

Before proceeding, take one portion of the chocolate and one portion of the vanilla dough and let them sit on the counter for about 15-20 minutes to soften slightly. On parchment paper (preferred) or a lightly floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll one portion of the vanilla and one portion of the chocolate dough (separately, of course) into ½ -inch thick rectangles, with the sides about 12 x 5 inches long. Using a pizza wheel (such a wonderful tool for this job) cut out total of 9 ½ -inch wide strips from the each dough. Handling the strips delicately, form two checkerboard logs alternating the chocolate and vanilla strips (see the photo of the finished cookies). I never use an egg white or water to adhere the strips one to another. If you don’t use a lot of flour during the dough rolling it’s not necessary, everything stays together without any problem. Cover with plastic wrap or parchment paper and refrigerate until firm, at least for 2 hours.

When ready to continue, on the parchment paper roll the remaining chocolate (or vanilla) dough into a rectangle about 1/3-inch thick and measuring 12 x 6 inches. Place the firmed checkerboard log into the center, long sides parallel, and with the aid of parchment, wrap the dough around the checkerboard log pressing firmly to adhere. Roll the finished log from side to side to form sharp corners. Wrap in the parchment and/or plastic and refrigerate well. The best would be to leave the formed cookie log in the refrigerator overnight. Don’t rush if you are after the uniform shape of the cookies. Repeat with the rest of the dough and the second chilled checkerboard log to form another, opposite in colors, cookie log. Wrap, place in the fridge. As I mentioned, you can freeze the logs. Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before using.

When ready to bake, center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. Using a very sharp knife, slice the cookie-dough log into ¼-inch thick slices. Place on the prepared baking sheet leaving about 1 inch all way around them. Bake the cookies, in batches, for about 12 minutes until firm and golden brown on the bottom. Don’t let them bake for too long, or the color contrast between the chocolate and vanilla dough will be lost. Cool on the baking sheet on a rack for 15 minutes. Then transfer the cookies to the rack and cool completely.

Update: I sketched a little diagram explaining the process of assembling the cookies. Please click to enlarge.

Checkerboard Cookies: Assembling diagram

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106 Responses to “Checkerboard Cookies”

  1. So cute! Those cookies look perfect! I love your picture!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. These are so beautiful. It looks and sounds time consuming but well worth it!

  3. Wow…mind-blowing…! Well done Vera!

  4. They look so pretty and perfectly shaped!

  5. These are so perfect looking. I’d probably get something more resembling Chutes and Ladders. Beautiful job.

  6. I’ve made these before and they looked nowhere near as nice as yours…but they are so cute I want to try again!

  7. Bravo!!! Look so pretty and so delicious. I´m making these cookies, nest weekend!!

    Beautiful photos, Vera!!

    Ana

  8. hi the cookies look great!!!

    but how much butter did you
    exactly use
    thanx

  9. Rosa, thank you!

    Honey B, thank you! This is just a long description. I wouldn’t call them time consuming.

    Sonu, thank you very much!

    Patricia, thank you!

    Lisa, thank you! I’m sure yours would look great :)

    Cate, thank you! I’ll be glad if you give them a try :)

    Ana, thanks a lot! It’s great you are making them!

    Gilat, thanks! I used 1lb of butter which is 454 g, to be exact.

  10. ahk! those are solid perfection. bravo.

    photo is brilliant. nice little pawns in the background. hehe. light contrast back, light contrast front. woooo.

  11. I had allready spotted them next to the hot chocolate! They’re so simple yet impressive. Yours turned out perfect!

  12. They’re beautiful! You might consider them simple, but not everyone can turn them out as perfectly as that, I’m sure :)

  13. Oh these cookies are stunning. But they intimadate me. So I will leave the baking of these cookies to you!

  14. I don’t blame people for going crazy for those cookies, they look so picture perfect! I definitely think it takes a special kind of skill to make things come out like that. Just beautiful!

  15. Wow, I’ve never seen anything like this before, this is awesome! Reminds me of a chess board. :) How did you get the squares to be so perfect.. and the wrap-around part so neat… wow!

  16. I agree with Y. Not everyone is favoured by the pastry gods, you know. So, any leftovers?? ;)

  17. Lovely cookies (another “must try” ones) and original photos (love the chess figurines behind).

    Me encanta cómo quedaron estas galletas (otras que me encantaría probar) y sobre todo cómo has montado las fotos, con los peones de ajedrez detrás, me parece una puesta en escena original y creativa, me ha gustado mucho.

  18. what a process, but more importantly, what a spectacular result! now all you need is little morsels (white and dark chocolate, of course) to use as pieces! :)

  19. These really are impressive cookies. I loved them in the photo with the hot chocolate.

  20. Love these cookies! I am sure they would be fun to dunk in milk!

  21. amazing :) they re perfect. Great job. Wish to try these but I m sure they eon t come perfect as yours

  22. I always think these cookies are sooo cool!
    They look like they would be comlicated to make though.

  23. Those look beautiful – worthy of any great bakery!

  24. these look so incredibly professional. i love that they yield so many cookies. i’ve read your instructions TWICE and i am still {whispers} confused. i must have to be actually doing the activity to get it but from my office desk right now, i can’t visualize all the steps. not only am i scared to tackle this cookie, i am compelled to conquer it.

    thank you for sharing the recipes and steps!

  25. Mallory, thank you! I’m very flattered.

    Rita, thank you! They are simple, indeed.

    Y, thank you very much! I’m pretty sure everyone can accomplish this :) But, thanks for your kind words :)

    Leslie, thank you! Too bad they scared you. Actually, the whole process is not difficult at all. It’s just the long description.

    Andrea, thank you very much for the complement! They don’t require any special skill, just a bit of patience.

    Irene, thanks a lot! It’s not difficult to archive the uniform squares. Roll the dough to the same thickness, use a ruler (not totally necessary if you have a sharp eye or don’t have the ruler:), and chill the formed logs well before slicing.

    Christy, thank you! All leftovers are gone by now :)

    Morgana, thank you very much! I can’t figure out how to leave comments on your blog… I’ll try again.

    Grace, thank you!

    Eileen, thank you! Everyone loved them with hot chocolate :) They go together pretty well.

    Maria, thank you! That’s what my little son did :)

    Natalie, I’m sure they will come out perfect, as everything you make!

    Ivy, thank you! They are not complicated. If there’s anything unclear, please, ask.

    Chocolate shavings, thank you very much!

    Lan, thank you! I could e-mail you a sketch to help in visualizing the process. Please, let me know if you need it.

  26. I recently was looking at a recipe book with these. I am convinced now that they need to be part of HOliday baking repertoire. Those are great looking cookies. Lets hope I can duplicate!

  27. I haven’t made refrigerator cookies in years. You’re so right that they’re perfect for the holidays — lots to share with everyone and they box quite well. Your checkerboards are just perfect!

  28. Classics are the best! You did a lovely job with these, so pretty :). Definitely a fun holiday party food!

  29. a classic made to perfection!

  30. Classic Beauty, I am sure it delicious too!

  31. Oh my effing gosh. We always made these around Christmas time, especially in Germany. You have really been cooking some things that make me want to dive into a bed of Christmas. They definitely do have a look to them that can be somewhat deceiving, giving it a look that a lot, a lot of work went into constructing them. I love them. :}

  32. I always wondered how this was done. I can just see myself confused and mixing up the layers. Trust me, I have mixed up all sorts of things, only to start over. At least with these, I could eat the mistakes.

  33. These are perfect with the hot cocoa from your previous post. I think they are a wonderful cookie to have on hand..sophisticated for the adults and perfect for the children.

  34. When I saw these with your coffee post I was hoping you would follow up with the recipe! The cookies are just as pretty alone as they were on the coffee saucer! :)

  35. Oops.. hot chocolate! :) :)

  36. The reason why people are impressed is because you made them just perfect. Perfectly square and perfectly baked. Even though I’m not a big fan of the flavours, I would love to bite in one of those perfect cookies :)

  37. Why do you say they are an old classic ? This is the first time I see cookies like this ! I will certainly make them in a close future.
    Anne

  38. Simply amazing. Can you perhaps give a small sketch of the different steps ?

  39. yes, if you could email me a sketch, i would be ever so grateful! altho i see that someone else has asked for it as well … i’m so excited about trying this recipe!

    thank you thank you thank you!

  40. I’m so impressed by how perfectly patterned these are!

  41. hello vera–yes very first macaron! thank you so much for the compliment, i have no idea why but out of everything i had always been so nervous to try making them! :)

  42. I have tried to give up the expression, “OMG”, but I simply can’t help myself from at least thinking it when I see these. Seriously, could they be any more perfect?

    Fantastico!!

  43. these are GORGEOUS! i love that you wrapped the outside of them, too!

    i have made them for many years, including in a commercial catering kitchen where i had to make thousands of them at a time, and i offer the following trick for getting the layers even: use a pair of dowel rods. choose whatever width of dowels you would like for the individual layers to be (i use quarter-inch ones) and cut them to 12-14 inch lengths. put them on either side of your piece of dough on the counter and start rolling. when the rolling pin comes to rest on the dowels, you have reached the perfect thickness! repeat for each piece of dough and you will have everything the exact same height.

  44. Yes it is a classic, but hello? You made them absolutely perfect!! I made some the other day and they looked nothing like this!!

  45. Gorgeous – these remind me of some that Payard made in one of his earlier books, Simply Sensational Desserts. But yours look even better!

  46. Thank you very much, everyone, for your lovely comments!

    Maya, Lan, I sketched a diagram explaining the process of assembling the cookies. I’ve placed the link at the end of the recipe. Hope this helps. If there are more questions – do not hesitate to ask!

  47. thank you so much for posting the diagram. i ended up reading the instructions a few more times and that’s pretty much what i had envisioned in my head. this confirms it! :) i’m sure i’ll be messing up but i think these cookies will be made a few times this year so eventually i should get it right.

  48. Lan, you are very welcome!

  49. Thank you so much for the sketch.I hope I get it right but ofcourse it won’t come anywhere close to yours !!!

  50. Maya, you are welcome! I’m sure they will come out just great!

  51. Vera, these cookies are so gorgeous looking! There has never been a product of yours that hasn’t stunned me with its beauty and tastes combination!

  52. I’ve made these before but yours are perfect.

  53. Miri, Aparna, thank you so much for your kind words!

  54. hi Vera — me again. i had a question … again! about these cookies. i’d like to make an xmas version, and rather than using chocolate powder, i’d like to turn that part red. as of Tuesday, i am unemployed so i’d like to spend tomorrow playing with this dough. could i use red food coloring and not have to buy something special to turn it red? sorry for bugging you again! thanks!

  55. Lan, sure you can use your food coloring. Add it gradually kneading into the dough until you get color intensity you want. Or you can try to add some beet juice instead :)

  56. Amazing!! And beautifully done!!

  57. Vera, congratulations on winning DMBLGIT!

  58. Vera, I’ve seen your cookies on Dessert Magazine, Bravo!!!

  59. and congrats on DMBLGIT too… :D

  60. Mycookinghut, Marija, Thip, thank you very much!

  61. Vera,

    Honestly I haven’t seen such a beautiful checker-board cookies ever. Only day before I bought some from my local bakery and they were nothing like this. The log formation sounds a bit confusing to me but i suppose if i make them i’ll understand the process. Thanks for the wonderful step-by-step picture.

  62. I made some yesterday. They’re not as pretty as yours though.

    http://aw-nuts.livejournal.com/704.html

  63. I have made similar cookies such as these for years, but in a much more rudimentary design. I think these are GORGEOUS and am looking forward to stepping up the look of our holiday favorites.

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog….I will definitely be back.

    Happy New Year!

    Kate

  64. How can I achieve the wrap-around part of the cooked. The diagram show perfectly how to create the checkerboard but I would like to finish it off with the wrap-around part just as you have. Do you mind sharing how you achieved this. Thank you.

    Teresa

  65. How can I achieve the wrap-around part of the cookie. The diagram show perfectly how to create the checkerboard but I would like to finish it off with the wrap-around part just as you have. Do you mind sharing how you achieved this. Thank you.

  66. Teresa, I omitted the wrap-around part in the diagram for simplicity sake, but explained the process in the recipe. If there’s still anything unclear, don’t hesitate to ask.

  67. Yes, thank you very much for responding. I read the instructions again and was able to understand the wrap-around portion. Thank you very much. I made the cookies and although they were not as pretty they sure tasted good! You have become an inspiration to me!

  68. Teresa, I’m glad you liked them. Thank you very much for the feedback!

  69. Vera, these are without a doubt the most perfect checkerboard cookies I’ve ever seen. It’s a simple cookie, but still, it looks so impressive and beautiful! I’m planning to make them this week and I was thinking about shipping them to an out-of-state friend. How well do the cookies keep and what’s the best way to store them?

  70. Elissa, thank you! I would recommend to consume them within a week. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature.

  71. I made them! Mine didn’t look as perfect as yours, but they tasted fantastic. Thanks for answering my earlier question so quickly. I made the cookies and sent some to an out of state friend, but I kept a whole 7 dozen for myself though because everyone in my family absolutely loved them. We ate them for breakfast, lunch and dinner! :) In fact I’m making them twice in one week to send to some relatives. Thank you so much! This is an amazing recipe and I’ll be making it many times again.

  72. Elissa, I am so happy! Thank you very much for letting me know!

  73. Hi Vera,

    The cookies looks just wonderful, and your explanation was very easy to follow.
    In the directions you write,that you never use water nor eggwhite to gue the cookie together, but one could do just that without ruining the cookie? ( had some problems with my wrap, as it kept falling off when I sliced the cookies – and I didn’t use extra flour, but maybe I just use too much in the dough?)
    And thanks for this wonderful site, it’s very inspirering!

    Kind Regards, Christina from Denmark :)

  74. Christina, thank you for your words! I don’t refrigerate the wrap portion after rolling, so when I wrap it around the checkerboard log, it sticks well. But you have to be sure there are no gaps between the log and the wrap, so flip it from side to side flattening and pressing gently to adhere.
    You sure can use a bit of egg white as well, if you wish.

  75. Thank you for the quick reply! :)
    >>I don’t refrigerate the wrap portion after rolling
    This could very well be the problem, as I actually did refigerated the “wrap” before I wrapped around the logs. Thank you!

  76. Vera – I am the baker in my house and I happily found your checkerboard cookies. I made them for Christmas and they were a HUGE success. Thank you for such a well written and illustrated recipe. You made the process easy and the product great!

  77. Firstly.. great looking cookies. I just have a question. I looked at other checkerboard cookies….and they dont look like yours (yours is much better)…other cookies you could tell they were layered…so i was wondering what did u do to make it look like the chocolate and vanilla are soo blended without showing the layer marks….

  78. basically…how did u do the cover up around the checkerboard…plz do give a reply…

  79. Your cookies are incredibly PERFECT!!!

  80. As described in the poker chip recipe linked above, one of the funnest things here is, once you have the hang of the basic recipe, coming up with entirely different color combos and arrangements. I see this recipe as a canvas, of sorts, and have come up with countless fun variations (some of which I’ve even gotten around to making).

  81. Hi Vera,
    Those cookies look amazing I must say. I have a little doubt about the amount for the flour, sugar and cocoa powder. If you could please tell me the amount in tbsp., that would be great. Thanks!

  82. It’s been 2 years since I made checkerboard cookies. I don’t recall where I’d gotten the previous recipe but, because of the less than impressive taste results, I hope to never find it again.

    I made these today ( I began them last night so that I could bake them early today). I did assemble them a bit differently though (to coincide with the amount of work I could complete before going to bed and needing them baked). After mixing, I removed half (approximated) of the dough, added the cocoa to what remained in the bowl, divvied out two blobs of each onto parchment, shaped into rectangles, and placed all 4 rectangular discs into freezer. Took a break (extended…30 minutes :-) it was after midnight, I needed it) came back and removed one of each flavor from freezer. It was firm enough to cut and assemble as described. wrapped them back up and returned to freezer. This morning, before taking my son to school, I removed the remaining two rectangular discs to thaw a bit while I was gone. When I got back, I rolled them out a bit thinner to make sure they’d surround the assembled blocks. Wrapped the frozen blocks, returned completely assembled blocks to freezer until I was ready for them. Followed the remaining instructions as directed.
    These are incredibly delicious! They (as I snacked on the ‘end’ pieces) taste so buttery and rich, and yes, they melt in your mouth…like Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies.
    Thank you so much for posting this recipe!!!

  83. Hello Vera,

    Tried out this recipe recently for Christmas. The dough was too soft for me to assemble it into a checkerboard, any idea why? I used 590g of flour since we measure things mostly in grams here in singapore. Not sure if i converted all the ingredients correctly. :/ I mixed the dough till it was still quite soft, not like a bread dough yet. Then left it in the refrigerator overnight (not freezer), next morning i left it for around 30mins till it was soft again, but it was too soft already. Made sort of marble cookies out of the dough, it was great but i still want to make the checkerboard cookies in your picture!

  84. Nigel,

    I am sorry it didn’t go as it should have.

    Most likely the measurements got off a little bit somewhere. If it was too soft after 30 minutes at room temperature, maybe you should have proceeded with the rolling sooner. The dough has to be put in the fridge to chill and firm up every time it feels too soft to handle.

    The recipe has been tested multiple times and by many people. It works. I hope it will work next time for you too!

  85. For those of you not using American measurements:
    663g all-purpose flour
    5g baking powder
    6g salt
    454g unsalted butter, at room temperature
    402g granulated sugar
    15ml pure vanilla extract
    2 large eggs, at room temperature
    41g unsweetened cocoa powder

  86. wow
    i’ve made checkerboard cookies numerous times and i’ve seen them on tons of other blogs but these are beautiful. I can’t believe how perfect they look

    A job well done :)

  87. hey,
    hai……
    My self sana really u make me learn many interesting recepi……..really ur recepi’s are awsum…
    thnkng u yurs sana

  88. I simply CANNOT stop looking at these beauties, out of all google image results for checkerboard cookies, you win hands-down! I tried them today evening, they were fun to make and extremely rewarding to eat, sort of a sugar cookie taste. That could be because I added too little cocoa, and thus didn’t achieve that gorgeous dark brown contrast with the white. I bet you have an unimaginably steady hand, seeing those even sized slices, mine were all over the place!

    Thank you, Vera, for the recipe- it’s a keeper!

  89. hi, these cookies look amazing, i will certainly be making them but the mount is a lot if, if i cut the ingredients by half will it still work or not, thanks.

  90. I am making these NOW so if anyone wants to answer now that would be great…what is the key to getting them look so perfect? I especially mean the wrapping of the log with the other dough? Gosh this is gonna take a lot of patience

  91. Dina, sure it will work. Follow the instruction, but make the logs shorter.

    Kerri, after you wrapped the dough around the checkerboard log, flip it from side to side pressing against the working surface to make sharp corners. And, if at any stage, the dough seems too soft to work with, refrigerate it briefly, then continue. Good luck!

  92. hi i made these check board cookies and they were marvelous although i cut down the ingredients half but they still turn out the amazing cookies i have ever made thank u so much for sharing sch a different style cookies. this is the first recipe of yours that i tried and will try others also…..thnk u and always stay blessed!!!

  93. Asma, I’m so glad you liked them! Thank you very much for the feedback and your kind words!

  94. dear vera, i have tried them and they are delicious thank you for this resipe and i passed it to most of my friends to make them
    thank you

  95. Dina, you are very welcome! Thank you very much for letting me know.

  96. Your cookies look so perfect! I’m planning to make these soon, but I was wondering if I could use almond extract instead of vanilla. Do you think the cookies would still taste good with that substitution? I’m not sure if the almond extract would clash with the chocolate flavor of the cookie. And when you say cocoa powder, do you mean Dutch or just any kind of cocoa powder?

  97. Jenny, thank you. I think the cookies would taste wonderful, almond flavor goes great with the chocolate, just don’t pour too much since the almond extract is quite potent (I would put a scant teaspoon instead of 1 tbsp of vanilla). In this recipe any kind of unsweetened cocoa will work.

  98. I made these and they were good and surprisingly easy!

  99. Meg, I am happy you liked them! Thank you for the feedback!

  100. Hi Vera I tried n I fail =( ..
    I have just realize there is diff kind of cup for measurement n it affect my dough

    May I have the recipe in grams please ?

  101. can i substitute unsalted butter with the normal one like buttercup?
    i bought the wrong one last night. it doesn’t mention anything either it’s salted or unsalted butter.

  102. Ferrena, if you Google “cups into grams” you’ll get plenty of sites offering free converters which are very easy to use.

    Uena, I’m not familiar with “buttercup”, but any butter will work, even salted. Taste it and if it is salted, don’t put any additional salt in the dough.

  103. hye vera! thnx 4 the recipe! i made them last week.. they’re really delicious. =) i used buttercup (salted butter).

  104. I followed the recipe exactly and these were really salty. Next time I think I’ll just use salted butter and I’ll skip the salt step.

  105. Hi Vera,

    I tried with just 2 cocoa and 2 white strips and wrapped the log with another layer of dough. And I found that the cookie is already big. May I check with you on the final size of your baked cookie with 9 strips? Thanks.

  106. Would it be okay if I doubled the recipe? Would the proportions be okay? Because sometimes when I double the proportions, it sometimes doesn’t turn out right

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