New This Month

Checkerboard Cookies


Though they look complicated, these tender cookies are easy to make if you use a ruler. To ensure an even design, measure the strips of dough carefully.

  • Yield: Makes about 4 dozen

Source: Martha Stewart Living Special Issues 2001


  • 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


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Place each half of the kneaded dough between 2 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.

  4. Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water. Cover work surface with plastic wrap. Place 3 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.

  5. 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.

Cook's Notes

The dough can be made a day or 2 in advance and refrigerated, or frozen for several weeks. Store cookies in an airtight container up to 2 days.

Reviews Add a comment

  • Browniessss
    25 FEB, 2015
    They failed. I followed everything right but they failed. The dough was perfect, but then when I pulled them out of the oven, they were melted. I just ended up using them as crumbs to sprinkle on top of my brownies once they dried out a little.
  • CaelesC
    25 DEC, 2014
    These are a childhood favorite and I decided to give it a try. Dough came out too dry and brittle. I've seen recipes that include an egg in the mix, so maybe next time. Not quite sweet enough either(maybe I didn't add all the sugar?) Also 3T cocoa seemed too much for half the dough. Maybe I would do 2T. Not as good a mom's : (
  • KrissyinKanada
    14 DEC, 2013
    I think the reason there are conflicting opinions about egg vs. no egg is the humidity in your area. I'm in Canada, in winter, and my 'dough' was a dry, crumbly mess. I added the egg and it was better. Still, although beautiful when done, these are NOT worth the effort. Avoid.
  • SarshaJ
    24 APR, 2013
    After reading the comments, I followed chefdelamaison's advice and added the egg into the mixture itself. And I really regretted it!! The dough became much too tacky to shape properly. I think it might've helped with the cocoa half, but it made the other half quite difficult to work with. Other than this, and omitting the lemon essence, I followed the recipe and it came out fantastic. I can't wait to try it again, sans the egg!
  • kparks2
    24 DEC, 2012
    I just made these today. As the recipe states the dough will be crumbly it did take some needing and even when placing the strips I had to still press them together a bit as the dough can fall apart easily. As it also states it looks complicated but it is a super easy recipe and the cookies taste light and crispy and I love the hint of lemon extract. Will use this recipe again and I recommend.
  • Juliacr
    20 DEC, 2012
    Reading the other reviews, I was dubious about these cookies but tried them anyway. Kids would have great fun helping with the kneading and assembly stages. The dough tasted delicious but the finished product was dry and chalky. I used orange extract instead of lemon, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly--weighed out the ingredients and everything. I'd give these s cookiea 6 out of 10, especially because their flavor doesn't justify the time it takes to make them.
  • Xischan Aly Moreaud
    19 DEC, 2012
    I've no idea why there are so many comments stating the cookies were bland or were not sweet enough. I consulted a Swedish recipe book (we live in Sweden) and it had exact sugar-flour proportions - so I gave it try. Instead of using Lemon and Vanilla extract I used Grand Marneir and orange zet. They turned out great - kids loved them and want me to bake more for Christmas! And they are so neat to look at - my family went " did you do that?" :)
  • agb001
    14 DEC, 2011
    I used part of SKY BLUE's TIP: used 2 Cups Flour, 1 extra tsp of Vanilla and added another 1/2 Cup Sugar. I left the Lemon extract in there (because I love LEMON). I put it together, piece of cake. Went together beautifully. Will let you know tomorrow how they taste.
  • chefdelamaison
    29 NOV, 2011
    Add the egg INTO the recipe and you don't have to glue/paste anything. Dough will be tacky enough to adhere to each other once you have stacked them. Dough does not have to 7" squares. 3/4 strips tend to be the right size for layering. This is an all time favorite in our family ever since the recipe appeared
  • Rileyt2000
    27 JAN, 2011
    sorry typo watched