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
- 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
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.