Friday, October 30, 2009

Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Cookies

As we head into November, planning for the holiday season takes center stage and that invariably includes thoughts about cookies. The fun that comes along with this time of year is not only making our favorite cookies but also trying some new ones. There are so many different flavors and textures and traditions to consider for our gift boxes and adding to our repertoire keeps us fully engaged with the spirit of giving.

This cookie is for those who can’t seem to decide between chocolate and vanilla. Two doughs are stacked and swirled together to give a taste of each in every bite. The resulting cookie is light and crumbly and visually appealing enough for a holiday platter. And despite its complex Rorschach appearance, it’s incredibly easy to make. Measure out or weigh all the ingredients for each dough before you begin and preparation will go quickly and smoothly. The whole process can be done in less than an hour, including the 15 minute chilling time before shaping the cookie dough. Once the finished logs have a chance to firm up in the refrigerator for a few hours, you're set to bake.

The recipe comes from Flo Braker, who borrows it from Nora Tong. In a region that boasts so many great and accomplished bakers - Alice Medrich, Lindsey Shere, Emily Luchetti, Elizabeth Falkner, Marion Cunningham and many, many others - Flo Braker has contributed a very distinguished collection of recipes that are all about the great satisfaction of sharing delicious pastry with family and friends. Adding this fun and easy cookie to your holiday production line will make your season of giving all about pleasure.

Bench notes:
- If you have a scale, Flo Braker recommends that you weigh ingredients to perfect the flavor and texture.
- The logs of cookie dough can be frozen for up to one month. Instructions say to thaw in the refrigerator for several hours or up to overnight before baking.
- If you prefer to make less than the full recipe, divide it into thirds and make either one or two-thirds. It will be much easier to follow instructions that way.
- I always work the dough on parchment paper to make the handling and rolling easier. Each time you need to move the logs of dough, you simply lift the parchment and the log maintains its shape.
- Add your favorite spices to the chocolate dough or your favorite extracts to either dough.
- I’ve also tried making each dough in a food processor and they came out fine. Start with the vanilla and then make the chocolate. Just be sure not to overmix.
- To help keep their round shape, I use the leftover cardboard from a roll of paper towels to store the cookie logs. Just use a pair of scissors or a sharp knife to cut open the cardboard and slip the cookie log inside.

Chocolate-Vanilla Swirl Cookies
From Baking for All Occasions by Flo Braker
Makes about 12 dozen cookies

Vanilla Dough

2 3/4 C (11 ounces/310 grams) cake flour
1 C + 2 T (4 ounces/115 grams) powdered sugar
1/4 t salt
8 oz (2 sticks/225 grams) butter @ room temperature
1 t vanilla extract

Chocolate Dough

2 1/4 C (9 ounces/255 grams) cake flour
1 C + 2 T (4 ounces/115 grams) powdered sugar
1/2 C + 1 T (2 ounces/55 grams) natural or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 t salt
8 oz (2 sticks/225 grams) butter @ room temperature
1 t vanilla extract

2 C (about 15 ounces/430 grams) nonpareil sprinkles for decoration (I used 1 C raw sugar)

For the Vanilla Dough:
Combine flour, sugar and salt and mix on lowest speed just to blend. Stop the mixer and place the butter on top of the flour mixture. Wrap a kitchen towel around the mixer bowl to prevent the flour from flying out of the bowl. Mix on the lowest speed just until it starts to appear lumpy. Stop the mixer and add the vanilla. Mix on the lowest speed just until the mixture is combined. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

For the Chocolate Dough:
Use the same instructions above, placing the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt in the bowl and mixing on the lowest speed to blend. Add the butter and proceed as above, then add the vanilla. Transfer the dough to a bowl and if too soft, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

To form into logs:
Divide the Vanilla Dough into thirds, with each piece weighing about 7 1/2 ounces (215 grams). Divide the Chocolate Dough the same way. You will work with one-third of each dough at a time.

On a piece of parchment or clean work surface, flatten one piece of Vanilla Dough into a 7" x 5" rectangle. Repeat this with a piece of the Chocolate Dough. Place the chocolate rectangle on top of the vanilla rectangle, then cut the stack in half crosswise to create 2 pieces, each about 3 1/2" x 5". Place one half on top of the other half to create 4 layers. (You may need a dough scraper to help with this.) Press or roll the stack into a 9" x 4" rectangle. Cut the stack in half lengthwise to create two 9" x 2" pieces. Place one piece on top of the other to create a long narrow stack with 8 layers.

Carefully twist each end of the dough once or twice, gently working toward the center. Use your hands to twist the pattern and shape the swirled dough into a log about 8 1/2 ” x 2”. Set aside. Repeat this process with the remaining pieces of each dough to form two more logs. Compress each log with your hands so it is compact, gently rolling back and forth until the log is round and uniformly shaped.

Roll each log in the sprinkles to coat. If the dough is soft, set the coated logs on a baking sheet and refrigerate for about 1 hour or until firm enough to handle. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator for a few hours to chill thoroughly.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Use a sharp knife to cut generous 1/4” slices and arrange 1/2" apart on baking sheets lined with parchment or a silpat.

Bake one sheet at a time just until they are no longer shiny on top and are lightly golden on the bottom, about 10 - 12 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.

Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 10 days.


Valérie-jeanne said...

These look so fun to make and eat. My son will love these!

Fahrenheit 350° said...

Those look like zebras! I love them - so darling! I gave you a blog award - come see!

vanillasugarblog said...

so photogenic.

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

Beautiful! Well done.

Audrey said...

these are beautiful and it's good to know they're easy to make. I recently bought this book and now I'm really looking forward to exploring it. I've been enjoying your blog!

Audrey said...

ps I meant to add a thank you for the tip on using the paper towel rolls...brilliant!

Barbara said...

I love the way these cookies look- such a nice dark chocolate against the vanilla. It's especially nice that they freeze well- that way you can divide the log and use only what you need. Pleasure indeed! Giving AND eating.

Cyndy said...

Beautiful cookie,love the swirls.
I agree with Dawn, Very photogenic!

corner desks said...

They look like very hard to make but No they are not! Thanks for sharing! Time to do something very yummy this weeK!

Valerie said...

I love the look of these! You did a great job. Flo has such wonderful recipes.

Diana H said...

These cookies are so pretty, they'd make really nice christmas gifts.

Anonymous said...
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Unknown said...

If I wanted to make only a dozen or 2 cookies how much would i need to scale this recipe?

pastry studio said...

Hi Andrew. I would say a third of the recipe. There is only one way to do that with any sort of precision and that is by weight. I hope you have a scale or can easily borrow one! Here are the weights:

Vanilla Dough
103 grams cake flour
38 g powdered sugar
pinch salt
75 grams butter @ room temperature
1/3 t vanilla

Chocolate Dough
85 grams cake flour
38 grams powdered sugar
18 grams cocoa powder
pinch salt
75 grams butter @ room temperature
1/3 t vanilla

about 2/3 C nonpareil sprinkles or raw sugar for decoration

I hope this helps.

Donalyn said...

Love how these look and van/choc shortbread type cookies are always a treat - will be giving these a try for sure!

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

Really neat cookies! Did you by any chance happen to take photos of the dough when you were assembling the two flavors together?


Patricia @ ButterYum said...

PS - I love to bake by weight!

pastry studio said...

ButterYum, I'm sorry to say that I'm not a very good process photographer. I get pretty immersed in the producing, so I don't have any photos of how the dough looks at each step. My bad.

Anonymous said...


I made these today -they are really easy to prepare and absolutely scrumptious! Needless to say pretty -mine came out just like in the pictures! My only mistake was to make only a third of the recipe, because they are gone so incredibly fast...

pastry studio said...

Thanks very much for your feedback, Anonymous! I think the texture and flavor of these cookies are just about perfect. And I'm glad you didn't find them difficult to prepare. Stock up!