As anyone who reads this blog or know me personally can sense that I am obsessed with patterns and shapes. But I also like simplicity in one thing and so combining colors and fine lines is always my ultimate goal when I want to create something eye catching and yet edible to the palate.
I got the idea for the red checkered one from Better Homes & Garden's Christmas cookies edition year 2003 and the spiral one from a spiced cookie that is available in my hometown in Malaysia. The colors are just the usual ones I see everywhere in this time of the year.
Making these cookies required more attention and time than the Biscotti. They required accurate measurements, ample time of dough resting and attentive baking time. When I was making the checkered one, I was actually relearning my maths again, in terms of measurement, geometry and alignment. The spiral one was much easier and done in no time.
It all starts with a simple cookie dough. The dough contains 1 cup of butter and I reduced the sugar content as I prefer buttery but not over sweet cookies. With vanilla and egg added in, the dough was soft and slightly sticky. The amount of flour was quite alot compared to all the other cookies I see, about 2 & 1/2 cups with baking powder added and salt. Stirred into the butter mixture and then divided to 2 parts.
From one dough recipe, I divided into 2 parts, colored one with the chosen red and left the other half plain. The dough must be rested to a firm consistency so that cutting is easy and to ensure no mushy cross over between the 2 colors. For the spiral one, I just colored half of the dough green and roll it out to a 1/4 inches thick rectangle and stack it on top of the plain part with egg white brushed on top of both dough before the rolling.
The red and plain dough were first rolled out to a rectangle each measuring 3' x 4' and then stacked together with egg wash. I find the steps in creating the checkered pattern very technical and simply difficult to explain in words. Thanks to YouTube, I found the right way to tell you on how to do it. For those who are interested, please refer to this link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jp7eL5Jg6bU
I like to take short cuts and I hardly measure nor repeat the steps in resting the dough. Hence, the uneven squares and sizes of the cookies. The first cut was not very encouraging but as I went on for the 3rd and so on slices, the checkered patterns were obvious and I was ecstatic. It is like discovering on how a candy cane was made (well... at least to me who is always food obsessed!) As for the spiral ones, the sizes were more uniform and I only wished I had made the shape rounder rather than oval. The baking part requires more attention as the cookies will be baked for a mere 12 mins with the rotation of the pan once during the baking and the cookies removed once the edges are slightly browned. If they are baked too long, the colors of the cookies will turn dull and not attractive. They must be completely cooled on the rack before packing or storing. Again I used wax paper to individually wrap each till I am ready for the packing. Rather than rush to bake and cool on the last day, doing some wax paper cutting and wrapping randomly was not that tedious anyway.