Alright nerds, I have a Twelfth Night cookie for you!!
Last month, North Dakota Shakespeare put on a production of Twelfth Night in our town square and it was so great!! Eggboy and I packed the cutest ever picnic and I was brought way way back to Mrs. Meyer's junior year English class when I triumphed my way through Shakespeare, thanks to Sparknotes. You too? Ok cool.
Just like last year’s rose cookies for Romeo and Juliet, I created this special Twelfth Night cookie to be sold the week of shows. This cookie is kind of all over the place but Twelfth Night kind of is too?! Like that play’s a lil drunk right?? But the important part is is that these cookies taste good and get you thinking about the play. So here are all of the references wrapped up into this chocolate and smoked butter and floral sandwich cookie:
Smoked butter cookies with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves: these cookies have the same spices as the traditional English Twelfth Night Cake which was the predecessor to the King Cake. And what’s great is that the spices compliment the smoked butter element, which was a nod to this particular performance being outside during the summer, as they smelled faintly like a campfire.
Yellow lemon buttercream: a nod to Malvolio’s yellow stockings!
Purple violet buttercream:
“O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour.”
Green rose buttercream: the fact that the rose buttercream is colored green and not pink is a reference to the theme of mistaken identity that’s all throughout the play. Rose is also inspired by Orsino saying something about lying on a rose covered bed.
Yellow, green, and purple buttercream: A nod to the King Cake, which grew out of the Twelfth Night Cake tradition.
Pink buttercream: it symbolizes the role of gender in the play and love, and also throws off the King Cake reference because having something as straightforward as a King Cake reference wouldn’t be in the spirit of this very wild play. It’s also pretty.
Chocolate shortbread: This represents the darkness of Malvolio’s prison. And it makes this a sandwich cookie, which represents the twins! I was also inspired by the cookies in this photo that I've had saved on my phone for forever.
…that’s it! Did I get a good grade??
My awesome friend Mollie drew a picture of it that was displayed during the shows with all of these references:
Here is the recipe for the full cookie, four kinds of frosting and everything. The chocolate shortbread, rose buttercream, lemon buttercream, and vanilla buttercream are all things you’ve seen here before, so what I’m most excited about in this recipe are the smoked butter shortbread and violet buttercream.
Smoking butter is something I first read about in Katrin Bjork's beautiful cookbook, From the North. I always figured I’d need fancy tools to smoke stuff but when I read this recipe I realized that all I needed were wood chips and a dutch oven. What you do is you heat up some wood chips and then place a bowl of butter on top of them (propped up by some balls of aluminum… if you look in the photo below you can spot them). I found that heating it for about an hour gave it a smoky enough flavor to hold up in baking the cookies, but if you're just smoking butter to serve with bread or radishes, you can smoke it for less time. The process makes the house smell like a campfire which is never a bad thing. The options for what to do with smoked butter are endless and range from spreading it on toast to making a cake with it (how wild would smoked funfetti be?!). It adds a smoky flavor that’s much more subtle than liquid smoke. These shortbread cookies are fairly simple and have some warm spices tossed in that amp up the smoky flavor.
Violet buttercream is a display of my new loyalty to melodramatic purple as the new millennial pink. I ordered violet syrup from Amazon and it smells like a snow cone! Not a specific flavor of snow cone, just general snow cone. Or like, how the blue sparkly snow cone flavored lip gloss that I owned in the 90s smelled. A few splashes of the syrup in a basic buttercream give it a light floral/candy like flavor, and then I added some purple food coloring because the color of the syrup isn’t that concentrated.
Twelfth Night Cookies
Smoked Butter Shortbread:
1 c + 2 tb (146g) all-purpose flour, more for dusting
1/2 c (60g) powdered sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
a pinch of cloves
1/2 c (113g) smoked butter, at room temperature (recipe below)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c + 2 tb (113g) all-purpose flour, more for dusting
6 tb (30g) dutch cocoa powder
1/2 c (60g) powdered sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c (168g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2c (240g) powdered sugar
A pinch of kosher salt
1 tb heavy cream
2 tb violet syrup
A squeeze of lemon juice
Purple food coloring
To make the smoked butter shortbread, combine the all of the dry ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low until crumbly. Sprinkle in the vanilla and continue to stir, scraping the sides of the bowl down with a rubber spatula occasionally. Increase the speed and continue to mix until the clumps start to get bigger and the dough starts to come together. Scrape the dough onto a surface and bring it together with your hands into a big ball. Pat it out into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
On surface dusted with flour, roll the dough out until it’s 1/4” thick, dusting with additional flour if it’s sticky. Cut out 2 1/2” circles and transfer to the baking sheets, an inch apart. If desired, cut out smaller circles within the big circles using a round piping tip. Bake until lightly browned around the edges; begin checking for doneness at 12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes un the pans and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the chocolate shortbread, repeat the same steps as the smoked butter shortbread.
To make the buttercream, beat together the butter, sugar, and salt until creamy. Add the heavy cream, violet syrup, lemon juice, and food coloring and beat to combine. Taste and adjust as desired. Alternatively, to make the four buttercream flavors pictured: don’t add the violet syrup or food coloring. Divide into four and mix in 1/2 tb violet syrup to one part, 1/4 tsp rosewater to another, 1/4 tso vanilla extract to another, and a pinch of lemon zest to the last. Add food coloring as desired.
To assemble, pipe the buttercream between two cookies and smoosh. Enjoy!
These can be stored in the fridge for up to a few days!
Makes about 1/2 cup
About 2 c Hickory wood chips (other wood chips work too)
10 tb (131g) unsalted butter
Cover the bottom of a big dutch oven with wood chips. Ball up three big pieces of aluminum foil to make three golfball-sized balls. Place them on top of the chips; they’ll be used to prop up the bowl of butter. Cover the dutch oven and heat over medium high for 10 minutes. Place the butter in a heat safe bowl and place the bowl on top of the aluminum balls. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pot, allowing a small opening to vent. Cook for 1 hour. Let the butter cool and allow it to come back to around 65-70ºf. You can let it sit at room temperature overnight or stick it in the freezer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until spreadable and opaque.
photos by chantell and brett quernemoen