Friday, July 16, 2010

Cookie #34 - Indiana Checkered Flags

In 1909 the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built.  Two years later, Ray Harroun won the first Indy 500.  There was much controversy over the first race and many believe the driver who came in second, Ralph Mulford, was actually the winner.

I chose a cookie to represent the victory flag of the race Indiana is so famous for.  I chose a variation of Martha Stewart's Checkerboard Cookie recipe.  The cookie is a combination of a chocolate and vanilla butter cookie with a hint of lemon, but I must admit, the chocolate flavor dominates.  The cookie is crumbly and butter and ideal with a cup of coffee or tea.  They require a lot of patience and practice to get the checkers just right.  This was my first attempt at a cookie like this, and I was pleased with how they turned out - even if the checkers were a little wonky.  Hey, we can't all be as perfect as Martha, right?

My only piece of advice is to not let the cookies chill too long.  If they are too cold, cutting can be difficult (think about trying to cut a stick of ice cold butter into 1/4" pats) and will crumble under your knife.  I also don't suggest halving the recipe like I did.  You end up with too little dough to properly form the checkerboard pattern and it was quite frustrating.  If it's warm in your kitchen, you might want to chill the dough slightly to facilitate rolling the layers. 

I also have to excuse the horrible picture.  The only excuse I have is this:

 It seams when you put your camera away and it's still turned on, the battery runs out.  Doh!  Guess it's time to invest in a second battery, huh?  So, I had to snap a pic using my iPhone since these cookies were GONE before I could get a proper picture. 

Indiana Checkered Flag Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 large egg

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract, lemon extract, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, scraping down sides of bowl.

Turn dough out onto a clean work surface; it will be loose and crumbly. Knead dough by pushing small amounts away from you with the heel of your hand for 1 to 2 minutes. Divide dough in half. Sprinkle cocoa powder over one of the halves. Knead until cocoa has been fully incorporated.

Place each half of the kneaded dough between two sheets of plastic. Using a rolling pin, shape dough into two 7-inch squares, about 3/8 inch thick. Using a sharp knife and a ruler, slice each square into nine 3/4-inch-wide strips.

Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water. Cover work surface with plastic wrap. Place three strips of dough on plastic, alternating white and chocolate strips. Brush tops and in between the strips with egg wash. Gently press strips together. Repeat, forming second and third layers, alternating colors to create a checkerboard effect. Wrap assembled log in plastic. Repeat process for second log, reversing color pattern. Refrigerate 30 minutes, or freeze 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. line a baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper. Slice each log into 1/4-inch-thick slices; place on baking sheet. Bake until done, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven, and let cookies cool 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container up to 2 days.

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