The Art of Cookie Dough

We've all seen those holiday cookies with pictures inside. You buy a roll of dough, slice the cookies, and bake. Kids love them, no matter how they taste. How do they get those pictures inside? Couldn't you do something like this at home?

Yes, you can! Unless you've got a commercial-grade extruder with programmable patterns, they won't be exactly the same. They might be better!

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The easiest pattern to make into sliced cookies is the pinwheel. These pinwheel cookies were made by Arundati at Escapades, where she posted the recipe. You make a layer of chocolate dough and a layer of vanilla dough, stack the two and roll them up together. When the roll is sliced, the cookies have a spiral pattern. It's the same concept as a jellyroll. But that's only the beginning of the patterns you can make.

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Divide the dough into more pieces, and you can make more complicated patterns. Florence posted the recipe for her checkerboard cookies and the process for making them, with pictures. You cut the dough into blocks and stack them in a checkerboard pattern, then slice them as you would a roll of dough.

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With more blocks and more colors, you can make even more complicated patterns. Eva Funderburgh makes pixelated cookies. With this method, patterns like these skulls and carrots are possible. The skull pattern is 9x9 pixels, or 81 colored rods of dough!

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Funderburgh posted instructions for making your own pixel cookies at Instructables, and in this Flickr set, where you can see some more examples of the finished product. I love how the rods of dough are made using a Play-Doh extruder. Now you wish you hadn't thrown that out when your kids quit playing with it!

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If you can make pixel cookies, the next step is to make fractal cookies. Windell at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories took a process he used with clay and translated it into cookie dough. The result is these Sierpinski cookies (modeled on pattern of the the Sierpinski carpet). You start with somewhat the same process as the checkerboard cookies, but stretch out a portion of your finished block to a much smaller and longer size, then stack the smaller blocks together -and then do it again!

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The limit to the "infinite fractal" comes at the point where you'd rather eat cookies than stretch cookie dough again!

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College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy
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One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

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North America: East or West Coast?
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