This edition of Is My Blog Burning is certainly the longest planned one to date. Jennifer, our blogging Domestic Goddess wrote to me back in April with the idea, long before IMBB became so popular and before I had to keep a written record of the upcoming hosts. Good idea of Jennifer to catch the ideal spot for a pre-Christmas cookie swap ahead of time!
I took the chance to do some father-son cookie baking. I have to say that cooking with a small kid can be slightly complicated if you’re doing precision work, but it was great fun. Saami seems to be taking from his parents: he can use the rolling pin quite nicely, he can knead and he tastes everything to be sure it is fine. The funniest part was cutting out cookies with cookie dough cutters. After seeing how it worked Saami started enthusiastically cutting one cookie after the other at such a speed that he looked like a baker gone mad. He had a lot of fun too. We made a few different things: simple sugar dough cookies, spekulatius and cinnamon stars. And clearly the cookies for this IMBB edition, checkerboard cookies.
These cookies are one of those easy to make things that incredibly impress people. Especially if they can't bake for square. Almost everyone who had one of these asked me if I had bought either the cookies or the dough to make them, which is easy to find in German supermarket but not as tasty as the self made one.
Before I go on I should take the chance and excuse myself with Jennifer for not taking part to any of the SHF she has organised. I’ve wanted to, but never managed to find the time to bake anything. I hope I’ll make it next time. Meanwhile let me thank Jennifer for organising another great food blogging event.
150 grams butter
75 grams confectioners’ sugar
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or the pulp of a 2 cm piece of vanilla bean
200 grams flour
20 grams Dutch processed cocoa
1 yolk diluted with a bit of water to assemble the cookies
Two wooden or plastic boards of the same thickness, about 1 to 2 cm
Work the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla together till everything is incorporated and the butter is nice and fluffy. Quickly add the sieved flour to the butter mixture, kneading only the time necessary to get the dough to hold together. Divide the dough in two pieces. Work one piece for a few extra seconds to get smooth dough. Wrap and store in the fridge. Add the cocoa to the remaining half and mix only so long till it gets incorporated it in the dough. Wrap the cocoa dough and store in the fridge for about two hours. It is important not to overwork the dough: you want the flour to mix with the butter while avoiding developing any gluten. This way the cookies will be nicely crumbly at the end.
Once the dough is cool enough to be handled again take it out of the fridge, letting it warm slightly if too cold to roll (i.e. if it cracks too easily when you try to roll it). To roll the dough for these cookies flour your working surface and place the dough between the two boards, kept parallel to each other and kept at a distance slightly smaller than the length of your rolling pin. Roll the white dough (or the cocoa one, it doesn’t matter), helping yourself with a little bit of flour if it tends to stick to either rolling pin or working surface, leaning the rolling pin on the two boards. This way you should end up with a rectangle of a fixed thickness. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Cut the dough rectangles so that they have the same length and then into strips, trying to keep them as wide as thick so to have a long dough stick with a square section. Using the diluted egg yolk as binder glue alternating vanilla and cocoa stick together. Think of a checkerboard: you can do 4x4 ones, 3x3, and so on, just use your fantasy. Make rows first, changing the starting colour for each following row (i.e. for 3x3 cookies vanilla-cocoa-vanilla than c-v-c and so on) and then glue the rows together. Once you have the desired checkerboard size wrap the “sticks” and let them rest in the fridge again for 30 to 60 minutes.
Once cool slice into 5 mm thick slices and bake in a 180C pre-heated oven for about 10-12 minutes. Let the cookies cool and store them, handling them with care since they’re really fragile.