Monday, March 25, 2013

Periodic Table of Cookies

Every year, perspective graduate students visit the department to see if they want to come to grad school at UW. Being awesome (and the inorganic division), we cook dinner for the students one night ourselves! Somehow, Sophia and I decided to co-organize the dinner. Mostly we decided that we're too picky about how things are done, so we might as well put in the work to make up for it. When trying to decide what to make, I came across the NotSoHumblePie blog, and she featured a Periodic Table of cookies. How awesome would that be for chemistry grad students!?

For the sugar cookies, we made the dough a few days in advance. To make homogeneous cookie sizes, we rolled the dough into rectangles and sliced 2" x 3" sections using a ruler and a pizza cutter. Sorry, my hands were too messy to take pictures of this process. Mike and Ben were wandering around pestering us. But at least they were adorable. See?

After baking the cookies (thank you Ben/Mike for timing them), we used royal icing to frost the borders. Many recipes called for meringue powder, which I could not find anywhere: Whole Foods, Safeway, QFC, Target...! BUT then I found one that called for pasteurized egg whites - so much easier anyway! Below is a snippet from our flavoring/coloring of the frosting. We chose raspberry flavor for purple, mint for green, chocolate for brown (I mixed in cocoa powder, it actually worked out perfectly), and the other flavors I've forgotten...

This is just the beginning of the chaos.
More baking chaos that was my kitchen.  We're both modeling awkward poses here - you're welcome.

After picking frosting colors and piping on the edges for all of the cookies, we watered down each color for the flooding. This took FOREVER. At least most of the perspective students and the professors were appreciative, but seriously. I generally go to bed at 10pm, and I wasn't done until 11 or so. Below is the finished (flooded) product, ready to dry overnight before being transported to the dinner tomorrow.

We had a few mishaps. First, we miscounted the cookies and almost didn't have enough. Second, we broke quite a few of them getting them off the cookie sheets (they cooled down for too long, oops). Third, we miscounted how many colors we needed, and Ben was really unhappy about making a color and then we "didn't use it", but we ended up needing it after all - so I guess he "won" that one...

At the professor's house, we frosted the element names on the cookies. It was a bit chaotic trying to hold my iPhone with the periodic table, and writing the elements on the cookies, but with the help of Jennifer (first year grad student!) we were able to make it work. (I know, I should probably have it memorized, but we were cooking for 80 people, give me a break!)

And, because I want to, here are many pictures of the finished product!

Thank you to everyone who helped out!!!


Sophia said...

I just posted a comment but I think it failed. :( I'm so glad we made the cookies! Totally time consuming but worth it. I also take blame for the two counting mistakes. Whoops!! haha

Vicki Valdez said...

very creative some of my friends really liked it. I am sure you and Sophia had fun and it sure looks like Ben did I love it and you both.

Carolyn Valdez said...

thanks mama - love you too!!!!

Benjamin Leipzig said...

I made so many alloys in my tummy!!!!!!!!! :)