Monday, October 10, 2011

Maize and Blue Shapable Butter Cookies

After nearly two months apart from some of my best friends and even more time apart from some others, I spent the entirety of last week giddy with excitement for my looming weekend in Chicago. I made sleeping arrangements, followed the weather forecast with increasing disbelief at my good fortune for going to Chicago during the warmest and most beautiful October days I could dream of, and perused the web for a recipe that would both capture the Michigan spirit and travel easily without crumbling into an colossal mess. Thus the birth of these Maize and Blue Shapable Butter Cookies.

Before I get to the cookie recipe, I want to tell you about my fun weekend!

I left for the airport Friday after work, where all of my co-workers seemed to share my anxious, "can't sit in front of this computer any longer" sentiment and by 4pm, the tap-tapping of computer keyboards made way for the more interesting sounds of wii sports — the swooshing of a mock golf-swing and the cheers of the animated audience at the tennis match. Good stuff.

At 5:00, I packed my bag and hopped on the train to the airport, landing in Chicago just a few hours later.

The rest of the weekend went as follows: Chicago bars, incredible breakfast/brunch, Duffy's Michigan bar for the Michigan vs. Northwestern game, Five Guys, power nap that lasted from relatively early Saturday night until Sunday morning, road trip to my friend's house outside of the city, Chicago deep dish pizza, Sprinkles cupcakes, and one final bar with the ladies pictured below and my friend Olivia (not pictured — sorry love).

Fun Fact: This picture was taken on the day of the 2010 Michigan vs. Michigan State football game,
the anniversary of which is fast approaching — this Saturday!

This morning I flew back to Boston where I'm now soaking up the rest of this incredible 85 degree weather, a little tired and worse for the wear but very happy after seeing so many old friends.

Now to the cookies!

I found this recipe listed as a Christmas cookie recipe and was drawn to it because it seemed like a shortbread cookie that I could mold and shape however I wanted — exactly what it turned out to be!

Maize and Blue Shapable Butter Cookies (recipe adapted from
Makes 3-4 dozen cookies (depending on how you shape them)

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • gel food coloring (optional)
  • Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  • Add egg yolks and extracts and mix until incorporated
  • Sift flour with salt and add slowly to butter mixture until just incorporated
  • Divide dough and color each half with food coloring
TIP: Dip a toothpick into the gel coloring and spread it on the dough a few times (I needed to use more coloring for the blue-dyed dough than the yellow) Mix well, using the back of a spoon — the more you mix it, the softer the dough will become, making mixing easier as you go.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Wrap dough in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
  • Shape dough however you like, (I'll give you some ideas!) refrigerate for 20 more minutes once shaped, and bake for 10 minutes

Refrigerating these cookies before and after shaping is key — it helps the dough firm up after molding and helps the cookies keep their shape while they bake.

Do you remember playing with play-dough and/or sculpy as a kid? Shaping these cookies is a lot like that! Very forgiving dough and easy to work with — the more it's handled, the softer and more malleable it becomes due to the warmth of your hands. Some time in the refrigerator will bring it back to it's original state.

Shaping Ideas:
  1. Stack a few rectangular pieces on top of each other in alternating colors, refrigerate for 20-30 minutes, and then cut 1/4 inch slices
  2. Make circles by wrapping sheets of dough around each other, refrigerating, and then slicing in the same way
  3. Make a circle base with one color, roll out a long rope with the other color and shape it into an "M"
  4. Make a twisted cookie like a candy cane without the loopy part
I had no solid ideas when I started making these cookies — I just played with the dough and had fun with it! 

GO BLUE! Let's keep up this winning streak! 

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