From the Washington Post Food Section, Wednesday December 4, 2013.
Edible Letters (for the Scrabble / Words with Friends lover in your life)
A bag of these tiles would make a great gift for Scrabble fans.Ingredients
There are two ways to go here. You can be a stickler for detail and slice the dough to the dimensions of actual Scrabble tiles: 1 3/16 inches long and 3/4 inch wide. Or you can take the casual approach and cut the tiles a little larger. If you opt for being exact, this recipe will yield about 250 tiles. (There are 100 tiles in an English-language Scrabble game.)
Food-grade glycerin is available at natural foods stores and cake supply shops. If you want to make your own vanilla sugar, you'll need a few weeks' head start: Split a fresh vanilla bean in half lengthwise, then bury it in several cups of sugar in a sealed container.
Make Ahead: The dough needs to be refrigerated for 30 minutes before rolling, then frozen for 15 minutes once the tiles are cut. The iced cookies need to set up at room temperature for at least 1 hour before you write on them. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks or frozen, without icing or letters, for up to 3 months.
For the tiles
- 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought vanilla sugar (see headnote)
- 1 large egg
- Scant 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
For the icing
- 1 large egg white
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon food-grade glycerin (see headnote)
- Black edible marker pen, for decorating
For the tiles: Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners. Lightly flour a work surface.
Combine the 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour, the baking powder and salt on a piece of wax paper.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on low, then medium-high speed for several minutes, until light and fluffy. Stop to scrape down the bowl. On low speed, beat in the egg, then the vanilla and almond extracts. Stop to scrape down the bowl.
On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to form a slightly crumbly dough. Turn the dough out onto the work surface; knead until the dough comes together in a ball. Flatten the dough into 2 disks, wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator and roll it out on the floured work surface to a generous 1/8-inch thickness. Use a ruler to measure and serve as a guide as you cut out tiles (see headnote), transferring the tiles to the lined baking sheets as you work and spacing them 1/2 inch apart. Scraps of dough can be rerolled as needed. Transfer the sheets to the freezer for 15 minutes.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees.
Bake the tiles one sheet at a time for 8 to 10 minutes, until they just begin to show a pale golden color at the edges; do not let them brown. Cool for a few minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining filled baking sheet.
Repeat to roll, slice and bake the second disk of dough.
For the icing: Beat the egg white in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer on low speed until it becomes frothy. With the motor running, add the confectioners' sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.
Add the lemon juice and glycerin; increase the speed to medium-high and beat to form stiff peaks. If needed, stir in 1 teaspoon of water at a time to achieve the right consistency; the icing should be smooth enough to spread in a thin layer. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel and let it rest for several minutes.
When ready to decorate, use a small teaspoon to place a dollop of icing on each cooled cookie tile, then use a small offset spatula to smooth the icing to the edges. Allow to air-dry for at least 1 hour.
Check to make sure the icing is set and dry before you use the black edible pen. Decorate with letters and their point values, as you’d find on Scrabble tiles. Make sure the writing has set before serving or storing.