Checkerboard Cookies

Aren’t these so fun?  I love the checkers so much that I had to break out the chess pieces for the photo.  The dark checkering here is a chocolate espresso dough, and the light is a basic vanilla dough, and I really love eating the two together like this.  And just so you know, these whimsical cookies are soft, buttery, and crumbly, so if your crispy tooth is having a craving, it’ll have to wait for another day.  Here’s how to make the cookies:

The cookies start out with a shortbread dough.

Add espresso powder, chocolate, and cocoa powder to half that dough.

Square each batch of dough into a rectangular block.

Refrigerate both doughs on a sheet pan for 1 hour.

Cut each block into desired size for checkering.  I cut the block into thirds.

Then each piece into thirds again.

Start alternating the pieces with chocolate and vanilla.

Square it off and press together.  Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into 1/4 inch thick slices and place on a parchment paper lined sheet pan.


Checkerboard Cookies

Yield: 2-3 dozen cookies


  • 15 oz all purpose flour (3 cups)
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2.25 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder


  1. Whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter to spread around the bowl. With the mixer running, stream in the sugar. Review my creaming article if you have forgotten how to do this properly. Add the egg and vanilla, and mix until combined.
  3. Slowly add the flour mixture to the stand mixer bowl until combined.
  4. Remove half of the dough, wrap in plastic and put into the fridge.
  5. Add the espresso powder, chocolate, and cocoa powder to the remaining dough, and mix to combine.
  6. Remove the coffee dough from the mixer and shape into a squared off block, about 2 inches tall and wide, and 6 inches long. Do the same with the vanilla dough.
  7. Refrigerate both doughs on a sheet pan for 1 hour.
  8. Cut each block into desired size for checkering. I cut the block into thirds, then into thirds again (see blog photos).
  9. Start alternating the pieces with chocolate and vanilla, then square it off and press together. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the dough into 1/4 inch thick slices and place on a parchment paper lined sheet pan.
  11. Bake for 10 minutes, then cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!


This recipe is a variation of Espresso Swirl Cookies.

More recipes you might enjoy:

22 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

  • avatar InCucinaDaME December 22, 2011, 8:09 am

    Brilliant idea and GREAT pictures


  • avatar Jess December 22, 2011, 8:11 am

    These look amazing, and so inventive! Awesome recipe, Joanne. :)

  • avatar anne December 22, 2011, 8:18 am

    Yummmm ! I loooove buttery cookies :D Gorgeous photos as always ;)

  • avatar December 22, 2011, 8:33 am

    Love this idea! My kids are in chess club and I will definitely be sending this in for a treat (it’s an after school club so I’m hoping to escape the lame store bought rule.) We just returned from the Mayan Riviera and bought a chess set with a Mayan calandar etched into it. That may be a bit difficult to create in a cookie! Thanks for the wonderful idea. I have a chocolate/black pepper recipe–maybe I’ll get creative with this too.

  • avatar Nydia December 22, 2011, 9:13 am

    Perfect cookies Joanne…love the look, love the picture with the checker piezes.

  • avatar Meg December 22, 2011, 10:28 am

    These are adorable, and I would never have thought to create something like that! Very cute and an excellent conversation topic.

  • avatar thekalechronicles December 22, 2011, 10:46 am

    Beautiful. I’ve always wanted to make these. Espresso in chocolate only makes it better. And the chessmen in the photo? Too cute.

  • avatar sportsglutton December 22, 2011, 10:46 am

    Those are totally fun and look delish!

  • avatar Platanos, Mangoes and Me! December 22, 2011, 11:02 am

    Like the touch of the chess pieces…thanks for stopping by to say hello…all is well and will be posting soon…today I find out what they are going to do to me…UGH!

    Lots of love for the holidays.

  • avatar Food, Flowers, Herbs and Life! December 22, 2011, 11:05 am

    These look like lots of fun to make – and even more fun to eat! My son would get out chess pieces, too! A great post!

  • avatar Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide December 22, 2011, 12:15 pm

    Oh this would make a great video! You made them so even too. They look wonderful.

  • avatar Tina@flourtrader December 22, 2011, 12:27 pm

    I have always loved these cookie but have never been able to master that perfect checkerboard look. Yours look amazing as well as delicious. I love the chess pieces on there-great picture!

  • avatar Kay aka Babygirl December 22, 2011, 1:06 pm

    I just LOVE THESE COOKIES. I can’t wait to try them out.. I think everyone will absolutely love them. These are just perfect..

  • avatar Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts December 22, 2011, 3:15 pm

    Cute! My husbands family used to make these and call them Black and White Magic cookies. This kids would help make the dough, and put in the fridge separate. Then when they were off playing she would combine it. They would come back later and it was “magically” combined! Mine never look as pretty :)

  • avatar The Food Hunter December 22, 2011, 3:49 pm

    I’ve got to try making these

  • avatar Ann December 23, 2011, 12:37 am

    These are absolutely picture perfect! I love crispy cookies – and you have made them beautifully! The pictures are terrific for step-by-stepers like me!

  • avatar thedrivencook December 23, 2011, 10:18 am

    Super cute cookies. Just like your swirl cookies, I’ve always wondered how these things were made! Thanks for the great pics. I’ll have to come back to these after I’m done consuming insane amounts of calories from holiday food…I’m trying to avoid the desserts this year, ha! Wish me luck on that. p.s. enjoy your vacation!

  • avatar jo-lyn December 24, 2011, 1:49 pm

    suh-weet!! these looks so cool and they are easier to make than one might think!! Merry Christmas to You and yours from Me and mine!! :)

  • avatar tia the baker December 30, 2011, 7:06 pm

    such a classic! i usually make these but forgot to this year :(
    happy 2012

  • avatar Justin April 4, 2013, 10:52 pm

    Hi! I tried making these cookies with my friend today, and they came out awesome! The only problem was, we had no idea what temperature to cook them on! We guessed 350, and we ended having to keep them in there for a while longer. I’d love to make these again, but I’d also love to know the right temperature.

    • avatar Joanne Ozug April 5, 2013, 8:51 am

      Hi Justin, oh dear, sorry about that. The good news is you guessed correctly, 350 is the temp you want. I have updated this version. PS these Espresso Swirl Cookies ( are the same doughs, you just do a swirl instead of checkerboard. I always like to do both since I have the doughs anyway. Once again I apologize for leaving that out!

  • avatar Janice April 2, 2014, 9:25 am

    im trying to make these,but,just a little problem here x-x my dough not becoming a *dough* o.o its way too crumbly to be called a dough :( i dont have a standmixer or something close to that,i use a hand mixer,maybe thats why? or maybe cause i didnt measure the butter with cup,i got it 262 grams o.o?


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