“Checking” Out

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The mixer is back in the cupboard. The baking sheets are taking a rest. I’m ready for a martini—but it’s only 7 am. Okay so maybe some baileys in my coffee since I’m a lightweight.

The final count for the Cookie Challenge came in at 889 cookies, with 13 different batches. The lowest cookie yield was the Coconut Pyramids (27) and the highest was the Gingerbread Cookies (118).

So, the “best guess” cookies go to Mercedes, whose “final answer” was 864. Her next challenge will be to eat all the cookies before she heads off to New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Thanks to all who submitted a guestimate.

I’m wrapping up the cookie recipes with Checkerboards. There’s always a bit of curiosity about how they’re made. I’ve always claimed that I piece each one together by hand . . . now you’ll know the truth.

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Checkerboard Cookies

Ingredients

  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate , chopped
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp vanilla
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt

Preparation

Line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment paper or grease; set aside.

In bowl over saucepan of hot (not boiling) water, melt chocolate, stirring often. Let cool to room temperature.

In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy; beat in 2 of the eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in vanilla. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt; stir one-third at a time into butter mixture, using hands if too stiff to stir.

Remove half of the dough for vanilla dough. Stir chocolate into remaining dough, using hands to blend thoroughly.

Divide vanilla dough in half; flatten each half into square. Place dough, 1 square at a time, between waxed paper; roll out to 7-inch (18 cm) square. Straighten edges with ruler. Repeat with chocolate dough. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Using ruler and sharp knife, cut each square into nine 3/4-inch (2 cm) wide strips.

Place 12-inch (30 cm) long piece of plastic wrap on work surface. Alternating vanilla and chocolate strips, place 3 strips of dough side by side (close but not touching) on plastic wrap. Whisk remaining egg; brush over sides and tops of strips. Gently press long edges of strips together to adhere. Repeat, forming second and third layers and alternating flavours of strips, to create checkerboard effect. Repeat to make 3 more logs, reversing colour pattern. Fold plastic wrap up to enclose logs; refrigerate for 30 minutes. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 4 days. Or overwrap in heavy-duty foil and freeze for up to 1 month.)

Using serrated knife, trim ends of each log; cut into 1/4-inch (5 mm) thick slices. Arrange, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart, on prepared pans. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, in centre of 350°F (180°C) oven until firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Let cool on pan on rack for 3 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool completely. (Make-ahead: Layer between waxed paper in airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 1 month.)

Source : Canadian Living Magazine: December 2003

TIP:

  • I find it hard to get the height of the chocolate and vanilla dough the exact same height because the chocolate is a different consistency. If my checkerboard is slightly uneven after being sliced, I just cut off the uneven bits.

A Tribute to New Zealand

When I think about my brief trip to New Zealand 14 years ago, there’s one thing that always comes to mind. If you’re guessing that it’s the beautiful countryside, the lovely beaches or the warm and outgoing people – you’d be wrong. When I dream about New Zealand, I dream about the rolo bar.

If you’ve never heard of it—you’re not alone. Few of us here in Canada have tried one. But if you had, you’d be right there with me. Forever yearning for the rolo bar.

Picture an oversized chocolate bar, in a similar format to a Caramilk, but made with rolos that are joined together on the flat-bottomed side. You’ll have to trust me on this one—the rolo bar is quite spectacular.

So, when my friend Jayne and I found this Rolo Cookie recipe online nine years ago, I didn’t have to think twice before giving it a try. It is a close as you can come to the rolo bar. And, my friends and family who don’t know what they are missing seem to love them. I must admit, they are pretty darn good.

As you’ll see from the pictures below, it is a good recipe for little helpers in the kitchen.

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Rolo Cookies

  • 2 ¼ cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • about 7 packages of rolos
  • Granulated sugar for top or mixture of 1 cup chopped nuts with 1 tbsp sugar

Beat sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs. Beat well. Add flour and baking soda. Blend well. Chill dough in refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Roll 1 heaping tsp of dough in palm of hand to form a ball. Press Rolo into ball covering it completely. Press top of ball into saucer of sugar (or nut and sugar mixture). Place cookies, sugar side up, on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350° for 9-10 minutes.

TIPS:

  • Make sure the rolo is completely covered by dough, otherwise the chocolate and caramel will leak out onto the pan. It’s not the end of the world, but they the cookies look nice when you can’t see the rolo that is hiding inside.
  • Plan to make these cookies first if you are making other cookies, so that you can refrigerate the dough while you move onto another cookie. We’ve made the mistake of making these at the end of a day of baking, and then had bake them another day because we forgot about the 3 hours to chill the dough!