Checkerboard cookies are fairly easy to prepare and have a high success rate for making very attractive, impressive cookies! They look like little checkerboards and exhibit a striking contrast of black and white. And, of course, they are yummy. Essentially, these are half shortbread, half chocolate shortbread. URLs to photographs at bottom!



Grease two baking sheets. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt, and then add the butter pieces in two additions (using a food processor or by hand). Add the egg yolk and the vanilla, and mix until the dough holds together. Divide the dough in half and knead the cocoa powder into one half until it's smooth and brown.

Roll out both dough halves on a floured board into 3 x 9-inch rectangles, 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick. Trim the edges to be even, and put on baking sheets, covering first with plastic before refrigerating for 30 minutes.

Beat the whole egg in a bowl. Take the dough out and cut each rectangle into 4 3/4-inch strips. Arrange in a checkerboard pattern; put a white rectangle next to a black rectangle, paint the top and sides with egg, and then place a black rectangle on the white rectangle and a white rectangle on the black. Then repeat with the second half of the dough. You should end up with two long rectangular logs in little checkerboard patterns, which you should then wrap in plastic again and put in the refrigerator for 30 more minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350º F (175º C, gas mark 4). Cut the logs into 3/4-inch (about 2 cm) slices, turning the log every time the slices start to move toward rectangular rather than square. Place the slices 1 1/2 inches (about 4 cm) apart on the sheets, and bake for about 15 minutes, until firm. Cool on sheets for two minutes, then on a wire rack.

These cookies are very picturesque and easy to pack in a box for gift-giving!

Yield: About 5 dozen cookies
Source: Paraphrased from a Williams-Sonoma cookbook entitled Cookies. The original recipe was called "Black and White cookies."

Picture of cookies: !

Picture of cookies in a gift box: !

(Noded as part of your friendly neighborhood Quest!)

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