Black & White Cookies

In her last video, Gloucester resident Mary Ann McCormick of Lark Fine Foods in Essex made a savory Parmesan cookie. Savory cookies are something of a specialty for her company and a departure from the sweet treatss people think of whenever cookies are mentioned. Here, she comes back with a sweet cookie, still a specialty because of how it is made and where it is from but suitable for any sweet tooth. It is called the Black and White Checkerboard Cookie because of how it looks. Each cookie has four squares, two black and two white.

The recipe comes from a Swedish cookbook owned by Mary Ann's daughter's mother-in-law. The Swedish are very fond of marzipan and this cookie is popular there because it has that almond-y marzipan taste. (Traditional marzipan is made with ground almonds and sugar.)

The recipe actually consists of making two separate recipes: one for the black and one for the white cookie, and then combining the doughs, resulting in an unusually flavorful checkerboard. You will make two separate batches of dough and roll them out into separate but equal size logs. To form the cookie, you will alternately weave two black logs and two white logs together to make a cross pattern, so that when looking at the finished cookie you see the cookie's namesake checkerboard pattern.

Black and White Cookies (or Checkerboard Cookies)

Ingredients

For the white cookies:

3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) softened unsalted butter

2/3 cup confectioner's sugar

2 ounces almond paste

1/2 teaspoon pure almond or pure vanilla extract

11/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the black cookies:

11 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) softened unsalted butter

2/3 cup sugar (granulated)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa

Instructions:

1. Place the softened butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until fluffy.

2. Add the almond paste (broken up into small pieces), along with the almond or vanilla extract and mix until blended.

3. Add the flour and mix until completely blended. Set dough aside while you make the black cookie dough.

4. For black dough, place the softened butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until light and fluffy.

5. Add the vanilla extract and salt and blend in. Add the flour and the cocoa and mix (beginning on low speed and then on a higher speed) until all ingredients are completely blended in and the dough holds together.

6. Place dough on a clean surface. Divide the dough into 4 equal balls. Roll each ball into a rope measuring about 13 inches in length.

7. Now divide the white dough into 4 equal balls and roll each ball into a rope measuring the same length as the black ropes.

8. Place a white rope on a sheet of waxed paper (or plastic wrap) and set a black rope along side it. Now place a black rope on top of the white rope, and place a white rope on top of black rope (so you have two layers, one with white on the bottom left and black on the bottom right; and second layer with black on the left and white on the right). Press the tops and sides of the formation lightly to be sure all 4 logs stick together. Wrap in the waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.

9. When well chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and place the black and white formation on a clean cutting board. Slice the dough into 1/4-inch slices.

10. Place the checkerboard slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Do not let the cookies brown.

11. Remove from baking sheets and let cool on a wire rack.

Recipe courtesy of Mary Ann McCormick, Lark Fine Foods, 2011.

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