My Checkered Past (Part II)

Honestly, I don’t have a checkered past, I swear! It just sounded like a good title! These checkerboard cookies look so complicated and hard to make, but in reality are somewhat simple. OK… they really are not simple, but not as complicated as you would think. Yeah, they are also quite a bit time consuming. For these reasons, I only make these once a year, and that’s for Christmas. It really is a fantastic cookie. They look so cool, with the perfect checkerboard pattern, and each bite you take is slightly crumbly, buttery, chocolaty and vanilla-y. Good stuff.

Please excuse my lazyness before… recipe is now included!

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Checkerboard Cookie Recipe

1 batch French vanilla sables (see below)
1 batch dark chocolate sables (see below)
1 egg white

1. Press the French vanilla sables dough into a 1 inch thick square, then wrap and chill. Repeat with the dark chocolate sables dough. Chill the dough for several hours, or up to several days.

2. When you are ready to form the cookies, remove the vanilla dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and on a floured surface roll out to an 8 x 12 inch rectangle, about 3/8 inch thick. You might have to hit the dough a few times with your rolling pin to soften. Slide the dough onto a cookie sheet, cover it with plastic wrap, and chill until firm again, about 30 minutes. Repeat with the chocolate dough.

3. Remove the vanilla dough from the refrigerator and paint it with lightly beaten egg white. Slide the chocolate dough over it and put a jellyroll pan or cookie sheet on top of the stack of dough. Gently press the pan down so the two layers adhere.

4. Immediately cut the layered dough in half, making two 8 x 6 inch rectangles. Paint the top of one rectangle with egg white and place the second one over it. You now have four alternating layers of vanilla and chocolate dough. Repeat the gently pressure with the pan, then wrap and chill the dough several hours before continuing.

5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and place it on a cutting board. Using a long sharp knife, trim the edges to make sure they are flush. Save the scraps. Then cut the dough across the 6 inch side into sixteen 3/8 inch slices.

6. Place one of the slices of dough, cut side down on the work surface, so that the four alternating stripes of dough are facing upward. Paint the dough with egg white and stack another slice of dough on top of it, making sure the slices alternate. Repeat with two more layers, until you have 4 slices stacked. Repeat with the remaining slices, until you have 4 logs of cookie dough.

7. Gently press each side of each stack of dough to square it, then wrap and refrigerate for several hours. They may be frozen at this point, just defrost in the refrigerator before continuing.

8. When you are ready to bake the cookies, set the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Slice the cookies ¼ inch thick, turning the stack often so it doesn’t become squashed from the weight of the knife.

9. Arrange the cookies on parchment covered sheet pans, about an inch apart. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until they have puffed a little bit and become dull and feel firm to the touch. Slide the papers from the pans onto racks. After the cool, store between sheets of parchment paper in a container with a tight fitting cover.
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French Vanilla Sables

12 tbsp (6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 c all purpose flour

1. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well mixed, light colored and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and egg yolk. Continue beating until very smooth, about 2 more minutes. Scrape the bowl and beater well, and beat in the flour.

2. Scrape the dough from the mixer bowl onto a lightly floured surface and continue as above.

Dark Chocolate Sables Recipe

1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/3 c alkalized cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
8 tbsp (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg

1. In the bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt, and stir well to incorporate. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until well mixed and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Then beat in the vanilla and egg. Continue beating until the mixture is very smooth, about 2 minutes longer.

2. Scrape the dough from the mixer bowl onto a lightly floured surface and continue as above.