Thursday 21 August 2014

Checkerboard Cookies

I am supposed to bake a Lightning McQueen birthday cake and suddenly had the inspiration to decorate it with checker board cookies. My friend requested for the birthday message to be made from cookies so I thought why not make use of the same cookie dough base to create checkerboard patterns! For the purpose of framing the cake, I made 2x2 matrix patterns, the simplest form of checkerboard pattern :).

Sneak preview of the cake! The birthday boy is 5, not 51 :p. That's supposed to be an exclamation mark after "5". Icing the cookies later.

I followed Ochikeron's recipe closely except that I used plain flour instead of cake flour to make cookies that don't crumble too easily for cake decoration purposes. I find it helpful to watch her demo video on how to assemble the cookies.

Ingredients (number of cookies depends on size of matrix):
Vanilla dough
50g unsalted butter (room temperature. You may use salted butter.)
2.5 tbs caster sugar
1/2 egg, beaten
100g plain flour
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate dough
50g unsalted butter
2.5 tbs caster sugar
1/2 egg beaten
85g plain flour
15g cocoa powder
1/8 tsp charcoal powder (optional. I added to create a darker brown)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Cream butter and sugar until  white and fluffy.

2. Add vanilla extract to egg and mix well. Gradually add in egg and mix well.

3. Sift in cake flour (and cocoa powder and charcoal for chocolate dough). Mix well with spatula until a dough forms.

4. Form each dough into rectangular blocks with square cross sections. Mine were tiny 2x2cm squares for the cake. Ochikeron suggested 1.5" square. Wrap in cling wrap and freeze for 30 minutes.

Note: I only used half of the dough to make these checkerboard cookies. The rest were used to make the birthday message.

5. Slice each dough lengthwise into 2 pieces.

6. Stack different coloured dough on top of each other and slice lengthwise into 2 pieces again.

7. Stack 2 slabs such that the checkerboard pattern is formed with alternate vanilla and chocolate squares. Wrap in cling wrap and freeze for 15 minutes.

Need to improve on my block shaping skills!

8. Cut a strip of baking sheet of 5mm in width. Place it on the block of dough and use a bench scraper or knife to mark out where to cut. This ensures that the cookies are about the same thickness.

9. Cut the block of dough along the marked lines and place on baking tray lined with baking sheet.

10. Bake for 8-9 minutes in preheated oven at 170 degrees Celsius for mini cookies like mine or 15 minutes for Ochikeron's larger 3x3 matrix cookies. Bake until the cookies are very slightly golden brown at the edges. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on baking tray before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

- Gradually add in egg to the dough to prevent batter from separating.
- Allow the dough to thaw a bit if it is too hard to work with. Place it in the fridge or freezer to firm up if it is too soft to handle.
- Number of times to slice the block of dough lengthwise is based on size of matrix. E g. Cut 3 strips of equal width for 3x3 matrix.
- Always stack blocks of alternating colors to create checkerboard patterns.
- The cookie dough can be stored for a long time in the freezer/ fridge in between steps of shaping and before baking like my rainbow shortbread cookies so it's perfect for busy people who want to have cookies on the spur of the moment (when the dough is done) or do not have long stretches of time to bake.

With love,
Phay Shing

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