Are these cookies schackrutor, or brysselkex?
Until recently, that was an odd question. Naturally, they are checkerboard cookies, and that’s that.
Then it turned out that they had been lumped together with a completely different cookie. Yes, this is what drama looks like in my life…
So, these checkerboard cookies have a lot in common with another favorite, the pink-rimmed brysselkex. Svensk Konditorbok from 1924 refers to these darlings as brysselkex, and this source is not the only one. For example, an ad by Konsum in Svenska Dagbladet in 1946 shares several cookie recipes, including one for “1-2-3 cookies” that look just like this cookie. The name refers to the proportions of the ingredients—a common shortbread recipe it shares with other cookies such as brysselkex. This recipe also notes that the cookies “are also called brysselkex”. But, as we have already seen, brysselkex is a completely different beast.
This Swedish checkerboard cookie definitely deserves its own name. So, long live
While I am have made up my mind on the One True Name for schackrutor, I won’t give you evil stares if you play with the looks of it. A common version is to add a thin rim of (usually) the lighter dough, as noted by a recipe in Svenska Dagbladet from 1926. In an over-ambitious moment, I made them “authentic” 8×8, which turned out to be more work than the fanciness was worth. 4×4 is definitely a looker, though.
How to make schackrutor—Swedish checkerboard cookies
It is completely up to you to choose how complicated you want to make these—2×2 is the most common, but why not 8×8? A thin edge in one of the colors is also a popular tweak. Makes about 50 cookies
100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
200 g (7/8 cup) butter, room temperature
300 g (2 1/3 cup) flour
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
- Stir the butter, sugar, and flour together until they form a dough.
- Divide the dough into two equal halves. Add the vanilla powder to one half and knead until it blends well. Repeat the process with the cocoa powder to the other half.
- For a 2×2 cookie, divide each dough balls into two. Form each ball into a square-shaped long bar, about 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick and high.
- Place one dark log next to a white and gently squeeze them together. Add the two remaining logs on top so they form a checkerboard pattern. Squeeze gently but try to keep the square shape of the logs. You can dab them with a little bit of egg white or water if it is difficult to make them stick together, but that usually isn’t necessary.
- Wrap and chill the log for a while so it firms up and is easier to cut.
- When you’re ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Cut each cookie log into squares and place them on lined baking sheets. Bake for about 10 minutes.
Of course, you can go wild and flavor the chocolate with some ground instant coffee as well, or add for example lemon or orange zest to the light cookie dough. If you end up having any leftovers of the dough, squeeze them together to a mixed roll and cut them into coins.