Recently there was a cooking challenge over at the Chickenless Kitchen: Cook your hobby! By that, she she meant that everyone should in some way cook something that represented in some way one of their other non-cooking hobbies. I thought it was a great idea, and immediately thought of several options: cooking (wait, no, that didn't count)... reading! Yes, that works! Ah, but what then? Make a bunch of book cupcakes? Nope. I needed something more interesting... How about mice racing? Hmm... would be great if I actually did something like that, but since I just made it up I'm pretty sure I'd get called out pretty quickly. Yeah, I could say photography, painting, travel and all the other hobbies easily found on survey checklists... but that's no fun, right... ?
You know what IS fun? Scrabble! I decided to do Scrabble Cookies because I really do love Scrabble and Jason and I often talk friends into playing horrible mutant versions of the game for our amusement. It's always good times. Also, the idea of making rectangular cookies with letters on them seemed simple enough...
So I went to consult my trusty Joy of Cooking and found a nice recipe for a fourteen-in-one master cut out cookie recipe and adapted it to make: Wood Grain Orange Chocolate Cookies! The wood grain was important to me as real scrabble tiles are wood and I've always loved that about them. After finding a good way to achieve that, it's simply a matter of either piping on chocolate ganache for letters or using an edible marker (I tried the latter version on my "actual size" cookies since they were a bit small to manuever a piping bag around). On a side note: I had tried another method for the letters involving mini alphabet cookie cutters that I sent away for specially, but it was a total, hilarious disaster. I wish I'd taken a picture of the sad, slumpy & disfigured letters it produced. Ah well, in the end it turned out good!
If you enjoy these cookies half as much as I enjoy Scrabble, my work here is done...
Recipe: Scrabble Cookies
For the Wood Grain Chocolate Orange Cookies (adapted from Joy of Cooking's Marble Cookies)...
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 pound unsalted butter cut into 14 pieces, at room temperature (that's 2 sticks)
1 cup superfine sugar (you can also pulse granulated sugar in a food processor for 1 minute)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg yolk
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 ounces melted semisweet baking chocolate
The zest of 1 orange
For the Letters...
For larger (2 inch high) cookies: 1 cup chocolate ganache, cooled slightly and added to a piping bag with a number 3 round pastry tip (you'll need a bar of semisweet baking chocolate and a pint of heavy cream for this - see "ganache" link for method)
For "actual size" (2.5 cm high) cookies: Edible black marker
What to do with it all...
- On medium speed, mix butter, sugar and salt unti fluffy
- Add egg yolk, whole egg, zest and vanilla and mix until well blended
- Reduce speed to low and add flour slowly until well combined
- Divide dough half, wrap and refigerate unti firm - at least 1 hour and up to 2 days
- Preheat oven to 375 degree F and prepare 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat
- On a well-floured surface, roll out your first round to a 14 inch thick then drizzle over half your melted chocolate
- Knead the dough loosely to incorporate the chocolate just so you see streaks in the dough
- Re-flour your surface and roll dough out to 1/8 inch thick
- Cut cookies to desired size using a ruler and a sharp knife: 2 inches by 1 1/4 inches for large cookies, 2.5 cm by 2 cm for "actual size" cookies"
- Repeat process with second dough half
- Place cookies on baking sheets, and place sheets into oven (one on lower rack, one on upper)
- Bake for 5 - 7 minutes, rotating sheets half way thru baking (watch closely for browning)
- Cook and decorate either with melted ganache, or edible marker (recommended for smaller cookies)
On another note, I'd like to thank Nancy of wonderful Spicie Foodie and Kathy of the brilliant Colors of Indian Cooking for the Honest Scrap Award! In accepting this award, I am supposed to list 10 honest things about myself, so here goes!
1. My kitchen is a whopping 100 square feet (about 7 x 14), galley style, with practically no workable surface areas. I sometimes pretend I am MacGuyver to invent ways to cook (I know lots of people have much smaller kitchens and I should not complain!)
2. I've never met a piece of chocolate I didn't like
3. I will choose a pickle over a cupcake on any day of the week
4. I didn't not learn to swim until I was 20 due to a fear of water
5. I secretly believe myself to be a queen of the thrift stores (with pride) for my ability to find amazing things in them
6. As a child I was so sensitive to sugar that I once ran off and dislocated my own shoulder in a hyperactive flurry after inhaling a pudding cup that a friend of my parents' unwittingly gave me
7. I have a dream to someday own goats
8. My big toes point upwards a bit and give off the appearance of being snobbish
9. Everyone in Chicago seems to love living by the lake, which I did once, and hated it passionately come Winter
10. Though I am a born and bred Chicago girl, I prefer New York style pizza to Chicago deep dish... which is, of course, sacrilege...
Thanks again everyone!