Introduction: How to Make Pixel Cookies!

About: I'm a ceramics artist in Seattle, WA.
This is a walk through on how to make Pixel Cookies! It involves using a playdough extruder to make long square rods of cookie dough, and building yourself a cookie. It's a lot of fun!

Step 1: Make the Dough!

For the cookies, I use the butter cookie dough recipe from Cooks Illustrated. I chose it because it's designed to be a very durable dough that still results in tender cookies. Also, it doesn't have baking soda or powder, so the cookies don't puff much during baking. You might even be able to use store bought dough if you wanted.
I don't have many detailed pictures for mixing up the dough, since it's fairly straight forward. Here's the recipe.

2.5 cups flour,
3/4 cups sugar, blitzed in a food processor until fine
1/4 tsp salt
two sticks of butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, at room temperature
2tsp vanilla extract
2tbs cream cheese, softened

Using a stand mixer, mix the dry ingredients, then add the butter piece by piece, and process until the dough looks wet and crumbly looking.
Toss in the cream cheese and vanilla, and keep going until it starts to form large clumps (30sec).

Step 2: Color Time!

At this point, I separate the dough into smaller balls, and mix up a palette of colors. You can also just keep the dough off-white, and mix in the color later as you need it. However, this is a bit more troublesome, since it leads to the dough being much more squishy.
Anyway, add a few drops of each color and mix it in, either by hand or with the mixer. For a brown color, just add cocoa powder until it looks dark. A lot of cocoa powder will change the texture of the dough, though, so use it sparingly.

Once you have everything mixed to the color you want, wrap it in saran wrap and squish it down into disks. Place it in the fridge for a hour or two until the dough is stiff. This keeps things from getting too squishy during the cookie making process.

Step 3: It's Pixel Making Time!

For this step, you need a Play-doh extruder. We got ours at Target for about 5 bucks. They have different output options that you can set by sliding a little template back and forth. Select the set of four 1/4 inch squares and get squeezing! (You might be able to make some interesting roll cookies with the other templates, too)

Step 4: Build Your Cookie!

Stack the pixels to make your cookie! It can be useful to draw out your pattern on graph paper if it's going to be complicated. Here you see two "in progress" photos of some tetris cookies. This should make clear how the pixels fit together.
It's simpler to build the cookies one row at a time, but I was tired of waiting for yellow pixels.

Step 5: Finishing and Slicing

Once you're done with your cookie roll, wrap it in some saran wrap, and tap it gently but firmly on each side a few times against the counter. This helps stick the pixels together. Don't worry if the ends aren't even now, since you'll be slicing it off. Stick it in the freezer for a while, until it's pretty stiff. This will keep it from squishing when you cut it!
Once it's chilled, cut it with a sharp knife into slice a 1/4 of an inch thick. People have also suggested slicing it with dental floss.

Step 6: Bake and Enjoy!

Place them on a cookie sheet with at least a half inch between them.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Take them out, let them cool a bit, and much away!
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