It's Donna Day time again and it's all about chequerboard cookies as proposed by Clare from eat stuff. My first time making these cookies and they were interesting to play with especially since I had lots of time last weekend when Splashie Boy was away.
I went a bit "mad scientist" with my creations as I experimented with so many types - only four made the cut below while two failed miserably i.e. the green tea/pistachio and chocolate/orange versions. It's not easy handling the dough of this cookie probably because of our tropical weather so I had to cool them in the fridge for almost every step. I also found out one home truth about myself - despite all my mathematics and science background, I cannot get my cookie dough to measure equally at each corner hence my cookies are slightly off key. However, I won't trade none of my non-perfect cookies as they all taste unique.
This Chocolate Chequerboard Cookie was baked from the exact recipe Clare gave on her blog. The only difference here is I made the squares smaller which were so fiddly hence you see some non- aligned squares. The extra effort paid off as they make a lovely pattern. I liked the chocolate version as you could smell the chocolate from these cookies making it really aromatic. I was toying with the idea of adding crushed Sichuan peppercorns in the dough but decided to keep it simple since I may have problems cutting the dough later on. Incidentally I used a method which I found from the Kitchen Capers forum to handle the dough with freezer bags and fridging it every step of the way to keep it manageable.
My second creation is the Peanut Butter Strawberry Chequerboard Cookies. Inspired by the ever popular combination of peanut butter and strawberry jelly or jam, I tried to recreate them in this cookie. I used a quarter of the original portion of the dough, divided into two and added about three to four tablespoons of creamy peanut butter into it. I kneaded the dough until the peanut butter was mixed in thoroughly. For the second portion of the dough, I added 1 tablespoon of strawberry emulco, a kind of strawberry paste or flavouring you get at the bake shops here. It would have been nice to add strawberry jam but I decided it may be too risky since I had no idea the impact on the dough's consistency. On the colour scheme, I thought a marblelized effect or a strawberry ripple will be nice hence I did not knead the dough thoroughly so it had steaks of the strawberry in it.
After baking it, I realised the addition of peanut butter changed the texture of the dough as it was extremely fragile and crumbly. The flavour for the strawberry portion was not too strong either but somehow the combination of both of them were excellent especially the peanut butter which I loved. I got Splashie Boy to test taste them and we both agree this is the best version.
Next version was a tribute to the Malaysian flavours I love so much: coconut and pandan. This time round, to make the pandan version, I had to rely on artificial pandan flavouring as the natural juice extracted from pandan leaves just don't smell strong enough. A bit of green colour was also added to the dough. Portion wise, a quarter of the dough was used and then one teaspoon of flavouring was added while the colouring was added slowly and kneaded till the green colour was mixed in thoroughly. I found if the dough gets too wet, add a bit of flour in it. The other part of the dough had about three tablespoons of dessicated coconut which I kneaded in.
Tastewise, this was both our second favourite cookie as we liked the coconuty flavours. I would have liked a less artificial taste to the pandan portion but it worked out to be pretty good. The green colour also makes it an excellent Hari Raya cookie too as it kinda looked like a ketupat from afar.
My last version was the Earl Grey Tea and Lemon Chequerboard Cookie inspired by Martha Stewart's Holiday Cookies where she had Earl Grey Tea Cookies. I added a lemon portion as usually these flavours work well together (remember that quiz Sir Leigh Teabing gave Robert Langdon in the flick, Da Vinci Code before they entered his mansion). Maybe my Earl Grey Tea was not strong enough but the bergamot oil flavour was quite subdued. However I could taste the lemony part quite well even though it's quite subtle.
For my Earl Grey Tea portion, I added two teaspoons of ground earl grey tea leaves while the lemon portion had one teaspoon of lemon juice plus one lemon's grated rind.
Besides these versions, I had failures with my green tea/pistachio and chocolate orange. The green tea powder I used was too mild hence there was not much taste. Then I also found out it's not a great idea to add nuts to the dough as it messes up your squares especially when you try to cut them. The chocolate orange sounded like a great idea too but somehow the chocolate I used was not great while the orange portion I made just totally overpowered it.
Thanks to Clare for suggesting these cookies, I had lots of fun playing with the dough, squares and rulers plus concocting the different flavours. If you haven't tried making them, do give it a try but remember if you're in Malaysia, keep fridging or else the dough will be too soft to handle.
Tagged with: Donna Hay + Chequerboard Cookies