Sometimes, when the world is falling apart – as it seems to be this week – the best thing to do is to bake some cookies and retreat with a cozy book.
My fabulous friend Emily Grosvenor wrote a wonderful children’s book called “Tessalation!”, found the perfect illustrator on-line, and got the project funded through Kickstarter in about 15 minutes (slight exaggeration, but it was really fast!). Once she got the hardbound books in hand, she asked some of her blogger friends if they would write a bit about the book. I was delighted to say yes, and as yesterday was the perfect day for cookies and a book (as I said above), here we are.
It’s been such a fun journey to watch Emily go through all the steps and triumphs of writing and then publishing this book, and the end result is a lovely picture book that teaches a math lesson in the midst of her lyrical prose and the oh-so charming illustrations.
Emily has always been smitten with patterns, whether natural or man-made. So much so that she decided to write this children’s book. Finding the young illustrator, Maima Widya Adiputri, was a magnificent stroke of luck. Or perhaps it was meant to be….in Maima’s bio she writes “Maima lives in Indonesia, where she experiments with watercolor and arabesque, a pattern-making technique involving arithmetic.” Clearly these two were meant for each other. I wish my photos could do this lovely book justice, but it’s not the same as holding it in your hands. Nonetheless, I’ll give it a try.
The story starts out:
Tiny Tessa Truman-Ling
Saw patterns in the coolest things!
In curtains, cloth, in wood, on chairs,
In strands of Mama’s curly hair.
Mama is busy baking a pie and Tessa gets underfoot, so is sent outside. She then quickly becomes engrossed in all the magical tessellations in her backyard, the mushrooms sprouting in the grass, the goldfish in the koi pond, fallen leaves and a bee hive. Finally Mama comes to find her, but they still can’t tear themselves from the wonder of the outside world.
Mama is baking pies, but I decided to make tessellation cookies. A couple of weeks ago I went on line to find a tessellation-shaped cookie cutter and did so easily. I ordered it from a site called cheapcookiecutters.com. In spite of the site’s uninspired name, I was quite charmed when the cookie cutter showed up in a little cardboard box that is the classic pink bakery box color! Even the tissue paper the cutter was wrapped in was pink!
My daughter Charlotte and I decided on a chocolate sugar cookie recipe that we know to be delicious. I originally found it on All Recipes, where it has gotten countless rave reviews.
After the baking, Charlotte made up a quick little glaze and tinted it pale yellow, reminiscent of the lovely yellow beehive endpapers in the book. Then she drizzled it overtop to add just enough color and extra sweetness.
When her friend Hallie came over in the afternoon, they sat on the couch eating cookies and reading “Tessalation!”, a very fine way to pass a little time, even if you are 13 and too old for picture books.
Best Ever Chocolate Cutout Cookies
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup butter softened
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar
- 1 egg
- good pinch of salt
For the glaze
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 teaspoons milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- food coloring as needed
- Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt - set aside.
- In a medium bowl combine the butter and sugar and beat until creamy and smooth. Beat in the egg. Gradually stir in the sifted ingredients for form a soft dough. Divide the dough in two pieces, flatten and wrap in wax paper or parchment. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Flatten out the wax or parchment paper you used to wrap the dough and put another piece over top. Full out to about 1/8 inch thickness.
- Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Dough is sticky so the paper helps.
- Line a cookie sheet or two (depending on the size of your cookies) with parchment paper. Place cookies 1 1/2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool completely before attempting to glaze.
- Meanwhile, combine the glaze ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until completely incorporated. Put the glaze into a plastic bag, snip off a bit of one corner, and decorate as you like.