Checkerboard icebox cookies hold a lot of nostalgia for me. It reminds me of when I was little and my mom would take me to the local bakery after grocery shopping and let me choose a cookie or two from the case. I always loved the contrast of the vanilla and chocolate, and how simple and cute they looked. And, not only where they attractive to the eye, they tasted great too! You can just never go wrong with a chocolate/vanilla combination….
I constantly see these delicious little cookies in anime of all kinds, such as in Toradora, episode 2, when Taiga makes checkerboard icebox cookies in a home economics/cooking class at school and attempts (unsuccessfully) to give them to her crush, Kitamura.
I speculate that these cookies are so often in anime due to the fact that they are simple to draw, easily recognizable, and have a nice aesthetic in its contrasting black and white segments… Because, these cookies just seem to pop up everywhere, including Ginga e Kickoff, Chihayafuru, Mawaru Penguindrum, and Saint Seiya, to name just a few series.
But, it was when I saw these cookies on an episode of K-On that I knew I had to recreate them! Nothing like cute girls relaxing after school with tea and cookies to cause some inspiration!
About the recipe:
To make checkerboard icebox cookies, two recipes are required: Vanilla Icebox Cookies and Chocolate Icebox Cookies. These recipes can be baked and eaten separately, or they can be combined in various way to create a host of delightfully cute and, of course, delicious cookies.
The recipe below is broken into three portions: Vanilla icebox cookies, a small aside about modifying the vanilla recipe to make chocolate icebox cookies, and finally how to assemble the two doughs into the checkerboard pattern.
Even though the recipes take a lot of ingredients (enough to make a whopping 8 dozen cookies!), the best part of this recipe is that it does not have to baked right away. You can easily store the dough, assembled in the checkerboard pattern, in the freezer ready to be sliced and baked at a moment’s notice. It’s great if you have unexpected company, or you just feel like a nice accompaniment to your tea.
About the ingredients:
Why unsalted butter and not salted butter? With cooking, and especially baking, it is important to be able to control your ingredients. Because it is not possible to know exactly how much salt was added to salted butter, and because each brand may use a different amount of salt, unsalted butter offers more predictability in a recipe. By using unsalted butter, the amount of salt can be easily adjusted, and no matter what brand of butter is used, it guarantees that the recipe turns out the same for everyone.
Dutch-process cocoa is cocoa that has been treated with an alkalizing agent, making it less acidic, and more smooth and mild in flavour than “natural cocoa”. The colour is also darker than natural cocoa, and is more soluble as well. I wouldn’t suggest substituting Dutch-process cocoa for other types of cocoa, since it would change the outcome of the recipe.
Vanilla Icebox Cookies
Makes about 3 and 1/2 to 4 dozen
- 2 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 16 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Whisk flour and salt in medium bowl. Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter, granulated sugar, and confectioners’ sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla until combined. Slowly add flour mixture on low speed and mix until combined.
2. Divide dough in half and roll into 6 x 2 inch logs. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.
3. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking liner. Slice dough into 1/4 inch thick rounds and place 3/4 inch apart on the baking sheets. Bake until cookie edges begin to brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Switch and rotate baking sheets halfway through baking. Cool cookies on sheets for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Cool completely before serving.
Chocolate Icebox Cookies
Makes about 3 and 1/2 to 4 dozen
Using the Vanilla Icebox Cookies recipe above, substitute ¼ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder for ¼ cup of the flour. Melt 2 ounces semisweet chocolate in a double boiler. Once melted, remove from heat and set aside until it is cool enough to add into the batter without cooking the eggs. Add melted and cooled chocolate to the dough with the egg yolks and vanilla.
Proceed with the recipe as per the rest of the instructions in the Vanilla Icebox Cookies recipe, as above.
Checkerboard Icebox Cookies
Makes about 8 dozen cookies
1. Make the dough for both Vanilla Icebox Cookies and Chocolate Icebox Cookies just through step 1 (don’t roll the dough into logs).
2. Divide the vanilla and chocolate doughs each into 2 pieces. Roll each piece into a 6-inch log, then press each log into a 1½-inch-thick square shape. Quarter the squared-off logs lengthwise with a chef’s knife.
3. Layer 2 strips of vanilla and 2 strips of chocolate dough into a checkerboard pattern and squeeze together gently to adhere. Repeat with the remaining strips to make four 6-inch checkerboard logs. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
4. Slice each log into ¼-inch-thick cookies and bake as directed for the Vanilla Icebox Cookies as above.
Source: America’s Test Kitchen