You'll need some miniscule pieces to play chinese checkers on these babies, but at the very least you'll have an entertaining cookie to gaze upon. This, like the facecake, is a treat you'll need to explain to people before they'll take a bite. They'll doubt the veracity of your explanation. They might think them the work of the devil. They'll even suspect they're shopbought (you may notice I placed "the work of the devil" before "shopbought". This was not an accident). But only you will know the love and attention you gave these sweeties to bring them into this cruel world.
It takes a little while to whip these up. If I'm honest, there is one great tool for these biscuits, but it's a tool that can be used whenever you make your own pastry: a pastry scraper. If it's a day like Melbourne's been having of late, your kitchen will be a hot, sweaty mess and your pastry will stick to the bench in the blink of an eye. A pastry scraper picks up the sweet stuff and moves it around the place like the humidity's a figment of your imagination.
I've based these on a great technique found in Professional Baking, a pastry cookbook. If you can follow basic recipes, this book is amazing for learning really interesting baking techniques for all manner of desserts. I find myself pulling it from the shelves when I have an idea - it helps me refine the concept to a doable, bakeable, edible creation.
So go ahead, have a try of this one. Once you break down the components, it's not that complex a recipe. You're just layering dough, in reality, and I'm sure even the feeblest of minds can comprehend that. That said, at one stage I stared at the dough thinking, "How on earth do you get to look like checkers?" But even I worked it out. And that's saying a fair bit.
120g caster sugar
120g icing sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
425g plain flour
3 tbsp cocoa
1 egg, beaten lightly
Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius. Prepare a baking sheet with baking paper.
In an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, cream the butter, salt and sugars until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat for a further minute. Add the flour and beat on low until all the flour is incorporated.
Weigh the dough and separate in half into two separate bowls. To one bowl, add the cocoa powder and mix until incorporated evenly. Wrap each in plastic wrap and rest for 25 minutes.
Dust your benchtop with flour and roll each dough out to 3/4cm thick, shaping to a rough rectangle approximately the same size. With a pastry brush, brush the flour from each sheet of pastry. Brush the egg wash over one sheet and place the other on top. Chill for 5 minutes.
Cut the sheet of pastry in half. Brush one sheet with eggwash and place the other on top. Chill again for 5 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator and slice 4 3/4cm slices. Brush each with egg wash on one side and layer to create a checkered effect. Chill again for 5 minutes.
Cut 1cm slices from the chilled dough to create little checker cookies. Bake for 10 minutes or until just turning golden on the edges.