Baker and blogger Nik Sharma says these are one of his favorite childhood cookies. They look cute, they smell great and they’re simply delicious—and, best of all, he got the recipe from of his mother’s old cooking notes. Our Test Kitchen cooks love that they’re much easier to make than they look, and say that these impressive little cookies won’t last long on the table at your annual holiday cookie swap.
- 8 Tbs. (1 stick) (4 oz./125 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups (9 oz./280 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbs. unsweetened dark cocoa powder (70% cacao)
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Sift the flour 3 times into a medium bowl. Add half of the flour to the butter mixture and beat on medium-low speed until just combined. Add the egg and the remaining flour and beat until completely combined, 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment paper and divide into 2 equal pieces. Place 1 piece of dough in a bowl and add the cocoa. Using a silicone spatula, fold until completely combined and the dough takes on the dark color of the cocoa; there should be no visible streaks of plain dough.
Divide each piece of dough (plain and chocolate) in half so you have 2 pieces of plain dough and 2 pieces of chocolate dough. On another sheet of parchment paper, using your hands, carefully roll each piece of dough into a cylinder 12 inches (30 cm) long.
Keeping the cylinders on the parchment, arrange the cylinders alternately to form a checkerboard pattern: Place 1 chocolate cylinder next to a plain cylinder and lightly press them together. Then layer the top, reversing the order of the 2 dough cylinders (plain and then chocolate). Wrap the log of dough with parchment paper along its length. Smooth the edges and gently press the cylinders together using the outer parchment paper to create a cleaner finish. Refrigerate until the dough is firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap it. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough crosswise into slices 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Place on the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Refrigerate the cookies until firm, about 10 minutes.
Bake until the cookies are just turning golden brown at the edges, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the racks and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes about 35 cookies.
Recipe by Nik Sharma, creator of the blog A Brown Table