The Tale of the Checkerboard Cookies
This is a tale that will make the optimists laugh, the pessimists cry, and the chefs shake their heads in dismay. I prefer to think of myself as an optimist, and sometimes I fancy a chef… But this tale makes me cry a little, so perhaps that makes me a little of all three. 😉
So… This week’s post was set to be about checkerboard cookies! Had this project been sponsored, they would have ended up being free. 😛 And this, I’ll tell you, is why…
This was one of those projects that starts out with the thought, “Ooh, I will just whip up these supremely easy-to-make cookies, they will turn out beautifully, and then I will post them on my blog.” Then, after the first day passes, the thought goes, “Wow, it was so hard to get to making those cookies. I will make them tomorrow.”
After a couple more days pass, however, you start to think, “Um, wow. I just can’t seem to get these cookies made!” It’s at that point that you wonder if you even CAN make them… It is at this point that you begin to believe that they might be too hard for you to make.
BUT. You promised your blog readers that you would make them, multiple times, so then comes that fateful day when you roll up your sleeves and bulldoze your way into the kitchen. Armed with determination, you flunk your way through the recipe. A few things don’t go quite right, but you don’t seem to mind… Time is running out, and you have pictures to take!
The process seems endless… But finally, late at night, they are done. It takes you all day to get them completed, and each step seemed to take an eternity. But they look perfect; you took care that they’d look good… So you slide them into the oven, breathe a sigh of relief, and sit down to await the delicious smell of fresh baking.
The timer goes off. They’re done! They smell perfect, and they look– AH! They melted.
That is what happened to me today. True story! Would you care to see the pictures?
First, I started with my trusty mixer. (I <heart3 it!)
Then, butter and eggs. I made the vanilla dough first, which was actually (to my great interest) pastry, rather than cookie dough. Very interesting indeed! The chocolate part of the cookies is cookie dough, but the white is supposed to be pastry.
And then, as usual, I gave the eggs some personalities for your amusement. These particular eggs, it seems, are all decorated with this nice little blue stamp. So I decided to make the faces react…
Now back to making the pastry. Here was my little mistake. I, thinking “Cookie dough” thoughts, softened my butter well ahead of time. Then, come to find out, this is pastry– and it needs cold butter. AND… to top that off, so did the chocolate dough. Not wanting to put it off any more, however, I decided to give it a go regardless. Not a good decision… At least, I suspect the reason for the failed outcome was because of this. Everything else went over splendidly. Next time, cold butter it is. I’m very curious to see if it would work better. 🙂
Once I had mixed it up, I stuck it in the fridge and left it overnight. Taking it out today, the consistency seemed just right– once it had softened a bit, of course. This pastry is called “Extra Buttery Sweet Pastry Dough.” It’s got lots of butter, and of course, is very firm when cold. So I let it soften, and then it was great to work with.
I made more than I needed, so for the extra, I rolled it into some cylinders to cut into slices and bake as cookies later.
Next, I made 4 pastry ropes, like this, rolling them out on a surface dusted with icing sugar. Then I set these aside, in the fridge, to keep them cool while I worked on the chocolate dough.
Then it had to be rolled into a log and refrigerated for a time. So, I covered it with plastic and stuck it in the fridge…
After that, the dough was divided and rolled out into ropes like the pastry. Then I had to crack another egg… He wasn’t too pleased (nor was I, particularly– I don’t like to stick an un-used yolk in the fridge), but I needed the white to stick the dough together.
To make the checkerboard pattern, you basically lay out two of each kind of rope, like so. Then you flatten and square the edges off with a flat-edge tool of some kind, then you cut it in half, spread egg white over it, and flip one of the pieces up and over so that you have 1/2 of the checker board in place. Then you repeat the process to get the full square.
Once that was done, it was getting a little warm… So I wrapped it up and stuck it in the fridge for a while.
Then I cut it in cookies, and…
Saved any of the ones I couldn’t fit in the oven right away between small sheets of wax paper. I then wrapped the whole bunch of pre-cut cookies in the freezer, to be baked whenever I wanted them.
NOTE: This is an awesome thing to do if you want to make cookies ahead of time, but you want them to be fresh-baked when you serve them. I often do this with sugar cookies.
I also decided to make some little marbled ones… Like so.
Here are the first batch of cookies, ready to go in the oven! I was so proud. 🙂
And then…….. They were done. 😦 *sob* It must have been that soft butter. Not sure what else it could have been…
I was sad. And I can’t believe I’m posting this in public. But… Honesty is the best policy, and this is what happened!
Hoping for the best, I let the rest of the cookies freeze completely, and then I baked them on parchment paper to see if that would improve the outcome. A little better, but not much.
Here are the baked marble cookies– a little better, I think.
But those checkerboards! Oh! All of that work, for melty, not-very-pretty cookies. The marbled ones weren’t too bad, but… Yeah. Just yeah. I was devastated.
…Yet somehow, here I sit, eating a hot cookie with a cold glass of milk. And wow, it’s pretty delicious. 🙂 That’s the upside! There are few things more comforting in your hour of sorrow than a hot cookie and milk, I think.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back next week!
P.S. I’ve never been more motivated to make something again, just to make myself believe that I can make it, as I am now. Maybe I should make these again tomorrow??!