Today I’m super excited to join forces with The Lingerie Lesbian on a baking/lingerie/art mashup extravaganza! I am a huge fan of her Art of Lingerie posts, where she pairs some gorgeous lingerie pieces with famous works of art. She approached me about collaborating on some posts after being inspired by a Mondrian cake recipe. We quickly realized that the cake itself might be a bit outside the scope of our energies (I’m still recovering from Project Wedding Cake), but then Caro had a brainwave: why not try cookies? Mondrian’s signature compositions, featuring a black grid with primary colors on a white background, make for an excellent pattern for icebox slice-and-bake cookies. Thus we are happy to present a big Mondrian-inspired project: the recipe for the cookies can be found here at Sweet Nothings; click over to The Lingerie Lesbian for the art/lingerie portion!
Cookie recipe adapted (barely) from Cook’s Illustrated
For the Vanilla Cookie Dough
3 3/4 sticks (15 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
For the Chocolate Cookie Dough
1 1/4 sticks (5 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (I used black cocoa; see the note for Celestial Truffle Cake)
The trick with these cookies is to cook the egg yolks first, which yields a drier cookie that holds its shape better. To hard-cook the eggs, place all 4 eggs (3 for the vanilla dough, 1 for chocolate) in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water (with at least an inch of water over the top of the eggs). Bring the water to a full, rolling boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the water comes to a full boil, remove from heat and slap a lid on the saucepan. Let the pan sit, covered, for 10 minutes, then cool the eggs in an ice water bath for another 10 minutes. Peel the eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. Press 1 egg yolk through a fine-meshed sieve into a small bowl and set aside. Press remaining 3 egg yolks through a fine-meshed sieve into another small bowl and set aside.
To make the vanilla dough:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar, salt, and 3 cooked egg yolks (pressed through a fine-meshed sieve) on medium speed, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, about 4 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the vanilla and almond extracts, mixing until combined, about 1 minute. Gradually add the flour and mix on low speed until just combined.
Divide the dough in half, and wrap one half in plastic wrap. This will be the “white” in your Mondrian cookie. Divide the second half into thirds and transfer each third to a separate bowl. Add a small amount of food coloring to each bowl (1 will be yellow, 1 red, and 1 blue) and mix until color is evenly distributed. Cover each bowl with plastic wrap while you make the chocolate dough.
To make the chocolate dough:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar, salt, and remaining cooked egg yolk (pressed through a fine-meshed sieve) on medium speed, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, about 4 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the vanilla and almond extracts, mixing until combined, about 1 minute. Gradually add the flour and cocoa powder and mix on low speed until just combined.
Okay, let’s assemble this monster:
Guys, if Caro hadn’t been the architect on this project there would have been many tears. I am sure that there are fancy baking tools and tips we could have used to ensure absolute perfection, but instead we eyeballed it, and honestly? Everything turned out pretty okay, except for one chocolate stripe we missed (there should be one extending from the corner of the blue square to meet the corresponding corner of the yellow rectangle).
What you want to do, instead of building all the separate pieces of the grid individually and then sticking them together, is to start with a long white rectangle, from which you remove small sections and replace with colored sections until you have one long multi-colored rectangular log thing, which you will then slice cross-wise to get your individual Mondrian tableaux. Yes?
We started by taking the “white” (uncolored) cookie dough and forming a long rectangle about 3″ x 3″ x 12″ in dimension. You could absolutely make some kind of mold to shape your dough with perfectly straight sides; we (quite clearly) did not. Wrap the dough in plastic or parchment paper and let chill until quite firm, about 30 minutes.
Next, you’ll need to begin cutting pieces away. We removed the chilled dough from the fridge and sliced off the right third (lengthwise). We gently replaced that section, rotated the dough 90 degrees, and sliced off the right third again. You’ll be left with a long square slice (the corner between the two sides), two rectangular slices, and one large plain section, which you can set aside until it’s time to finish the assembly.
Now, look, Caro directed this whole section, so, unfortunately, I can’t really explain well how we put everything together, because it turns out my ability to picture and manipulate objects in space is not excellent. Basically, you’ll need to shape your red, yellow, and blue dough into long rectangular pieces to replace sections of the white dough, and you’ll have to roll out your chocolate dough very, very thin to place between each white/colored section. We’re creating one long rectangle, with all the colors/stripes in place, and then wrapping it in chocolate dough, so that once the dough has chilled for 45-60 minutes, you can then slice it thinly into cookies. The dough will break, but don’t worry! You can just stick everything back together! Plus, as Caro pointed out, the eggs are cooked, so sample away. It will be messy, assuming you’re free-handing it like we did, but it will be deliciously messy. Take your time and have fun!
After you’ve re-assembled the rectangle, with all the colored and chocolate sections filled in, wrap it in parchment or plastic and let it chill for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the assembled cookie dough log from the fridge and, using a very sharp knife, slice off 1/4 inch slices. Transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheets and bake for about 12 minutes, rotating cookie sheets from top rack to bottom rack halfway through the baking time. Keep an eye on them– if they over-bake the white dough will get a little toasty brown, which will taste good, but will get in the way of the Mondrian effect. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
Enjoy your cookies, and head over to Caro’s blog for the art and the lingerie!