Alright so yesterday I posted about how my housemates and I grilled out as a farewell to summer, but I found today that I still needed something else to really make me welcome the school year. This fall I'm enrolled in Physical Chemistry- yes... the big PChem. As much as I love cooking and gardening, I actually spend the rest of my time immersed in science courses and research. Maybe a little bit odd right? But I guess they balance each other out to a happy medium? That's what I tell myself at least. I wanted to thank a Chemistry professor that I worked for last year, and I usually gift baked goods since it is my most genuine way of saying thank you, but I couldn't figure out exactly what I should make. Of course, I wanted it to be chemically relevant... but how? I thought about making a cupcake model of an atom, a cake with molecules as decorations, things like that. But then, I decided that the best thing I could do was bring it back to the basics and make something that all chemists appreciate, no matter their area of research interests: a periodic table of the elements. Made out of cookies!! Whether or not you want to spend your time making a periodic table, this sugar cookie recipe is definitely worth making.

sugar cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Beat the softened butter with a hand mixer until fluffy, about 1 minute. Then add the sugars and cream together for about another minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla, beating after each addition. Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl and mix well. Then add slowly to the wet mixture until combined. At this point, if you are making cut out cookies, you should chill the dough for about an hour, wrapped in saran wrap. If you are making drop cookies, you can proceed to the baking step right away.

After the dough has hardened in the refrigerator, roll out the dough to about 1/8" thickness. I used a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 1" squares (well.. sometimes rectangles!), but you could also use cookie cutters. Transfer the cookie cut outs to a large baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees. If you are making 1" squares, the baking time was around 6 minutes. However, if you are using cookie cutters or making drop cookies, the baking time will be closer to 8-10 minutes. Watch your first batch closely to determine how long the rest of the batches should bake for to achieve light golden brown edges around the cookies.

If you want to make a periodic table, and unless you're a chemistry wiz, I'd look up a periodic table online or follow the table I posted above. First I frosted the cookies with a color based on their general elemental group. Since it was 90 degrees, I had to put them in the freezer to set before I could add the symbols on top with white frosting. Even if it isn't 90 degrees when you make it, I would suggest letting the colored frosting dry for about 45 minutes before applying the symbols so that the frosting doesn't smear.

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