The holiest of all the holy times has befallen East Tennessee. Welcome to football season.
The time of year when it’s acceptable, if not necessary, to bedeck yourself (and pets) in road-cone orange, declare to the world that you get your corn from a jar, change your Facebook cover photo to correlate with your early on-set optimism, and on game days, to begin binge drinking as soon the sun comes up.
Good God am I excited.
It’s a funny thing, these college football games… Coming from a town where the nearest big city was Buffalo – home of the mighty University of Buffalo Bulls – and the actually (once) mighty Bills, NFL superseded NCAA 99% of the time. In fact, the art of college football tailgating was nonexistent until I moved my cold, Northern self down to Knoxville and was greeted with the behemoth that is Neyland Stadium.
Now, I know better. Tailgating for Volunteer games is a way of life. Outfits are planned with the seriousness of a White House state dinner, parking spot placement is worth throwing ‘bows over, and everything from solo cups to awnings are orange & white or covered in Power T’s. This also includes baked good – which is where I come in.
For those of you unfortunate enough to never have stepped foot inside our great stadium…
Sorry. I never say ‘boom’ because I find it incredibly haughty and immature, but really. Boom.
University of Tennessee Checkerboard Cookies
Yields: about 2 & 1/2 dozen-ish
Difficulty: Time consuming, but fairly easy
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt,
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 & 1/4 cup flour
- Yellow and red food coloring
- Egg wash (1 egg, whisked together with a splash of water)
- Extra flour for sprinkling
- In a bowl, cream butter and sugar together using a mixer for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Mix in vanilla and salt.
- Mix in flour, a little bit at a time, until you have a crumbly looking dough:
- On a floured surface, dump out the dough and knead until it comes together. If you find it too sticky, add more flour as you see fit.
- Split the dough into two equal pieces.
- Taking one 1/2, make a well in the middle and add 6 drops yellow to 2 drops red. Knead the dough until the color is distributed. To obtain the ideal color orange, I added 18 drops yellow and 6 drops red.
- Roll out one half of the dough into a 7 inch x 7 inch square about 3/8ths of an inch thick. Do the same for the other half.
- Wrapping each half in plastic wrap, place in the fridge or freezer to cool. This will make it easier to cut.
- Once chilled, use a ruler to mark 3/4 in wide strips and cut each of the halves accordingly.
- Place 4 strips of dough together, colors alternating (ie orange strip, white strip, orange strip, white strip). Press lightly together and brush with the egg wash.
- Alternating colors, place 4 more strips on top, ensuring that you are setting a different color on top of the bottom layer, creating a checkerboard effect. Lightly press all the strips together and brush with egg wash.
- Repeat until you have a block 4 strips wide, and 4 strips high. You may have extra dough, in which case you should roll together and make sweet tie dyed swan cookies:just an idea…
- Wrap the dough block in plastic wrap and place back in the freezer for 10 minutes so it will firm up and be easier to cut.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400.
- After the dough has again chilled, use a sharp knife to cut the block into cookies about 1/4 inch thick.
- Place the sliced cookies on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and bake for10-12 minutes. Be careful, they will start to brown pretty quickly.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
- Eat while listening to ‘Rocky Top’.
Now let’s say that you don’t live in the great state of Tennessee, or you hate the Volunteers (I shun you), obviously you can switch up the colors and still create some pretty fancy looking cookies to impress your friends. Or you can make them for Halloween, whatever floats your boat.
Happy Tailgate Friday!!