Do you like playing games? Do you enjoy cooking? Do you like to occasionally have more than just soda pop and potato chips as snacks for game night? In this Monday blog series, game industry personalities will be sharing some of their favorite recipes for game night munchies. Welcome to Gaming Gastronomy! This week our fancy fixin’s come from Emily Knight, my daughter and new Dungeon Master.
Emily Knight (Blog) is the daughter of T.R. Knight, the dude who writes this blog thing you’re on. She enjoys playing board games and recently D&D with her father, both as a player and a very new DM. Emily has recently (as in this last semester of school and the summer) found a passion for baking and is constantly testing random baked goods to shove off onto her family. She recently turned 18 and therefore is celebrating being an official adult, whatever that means. Emily also has an art blog and enjoys doodling in her spare time.
My dad invited me to write this post because of my 18th Birthday Tea Party Hot Chocolate Extravaganza Shindig that my twin and I hosted at our house this last weekend. (Yes, that name is a mouthful, but it’s fun to see written on an invitation.) He wanted me to share some insight I might have about planning something fancier for you and your friends as an event for game night. In my case, this ended up happening because I was getting into baking (partially from the Great British Bake Off) and wanted to bake a bunch of small snacks for my friends in a more formal setting, and decided to also set out thematically appropriate games such as Belle of the Ball, Love Letter, and Just Desserts.
You all might wonder why anyone would even want to host a fancy game night. Well, being more formal can be fun occasionally, just to dig out that china you never use and that pretty dress or classy suit jacket you never have a reason to wear. Besides, it can get you into the mood for games like Belle of the Ball and other games with themes around royalty, parties, or intrigue. Themed events in general can make a single game or moment so much more fun, whether that ends up being a formal afternoon tea party or having a D&D session with traditional medieval food prep beforehand with costumes encouraged. Engage with your creative side and shape the environment around you to reflect what you’re playing, and the theme seems more real.
We planned on having a semi-fancy event where we could play games with friends, have fun food, dress up, and dig out those nice serving platters you never normally use at a game night. This obviously requires friends who are willing to be semi-fancy with you, either baking or buying appropriately fancy food, nice clothing, and either a trip to the local thrift shop to pick up coordinating plates or digging out that pressed glass set of plates you inherited from your grandmother that are rarely used.
Finding friends willing to have a tea (or hot chocolate/coffee for all those people who are not fans of tea) party isn’t a hard task. My twin and I ended up inviting a group of our female friends from youth group, but don’t feel limited by only inviting girls or people from a specific context. Worst case scenario you invite a friend and they say that they hate any drink made with hot water and refuse to speak to you again, which is very unlikely.
To start the process, fun invitations are highly recommended. Choose one of those cursive-like fonts you never get to use on official forms, and create some quick invitations using Microsoft Publisher or the equivalent featuring some sort of title such as “Sam’s Splendid Gaming Soiree” (I personally recommend using a thesaurus to find synonyms for party in order to make it sound cooler), the time, and the location. Hand out the invitations when you next see your friends, possibly at your next regularly scheduled game night.
Food is also a great thing in general to have at a game night, and the type of food often shows what type of event it is. For example, events targeted toward high schoolers often offer free pizza, while morning business meetings are more likely to have donuts. Obviously for a game night the first priority is choosing foods that are gaming-friendly.
And for a snazzy party you need classy food. For my tea party, I served cinnamon shortbread (recipe below), scones, lemon curd, cheesy choux pastry, and mini sandwiches made from homemade wheat bread. Some recipes from the Gaming Gastronomy series that could work well depending on the event are Jessi Bailey’s Lemon Poppy Seed Mini Muffins, Marty Connell’s Chocolate Trifle Dessert, or Andy Looney’s Game Night Fudge. If you aren’t a cook or baker normally (or you just don’t have time to make it all), your friends won’t judge you for buying food either. My food goals were just to look nice, be convenient bite/snack sizes as this was a tea, and not be something I normally bake a ton because I wanted to challenge myself a little.
One of the main details that makes everyone feel really special and classy is using your fancy dinnerware. Anything immediately feels 100% more dignified when eaten off of the nice pressed glass plates. Put your food out in a nice arrangement on actual serving dishes instead of just setting out the Tupperware like I do for my D&D nights with friends (which is where the party leftovers are going on Monday evening). Just putting food out nicely makes the presentation a step above, therefore elevating the event a little more.
Well, that’s all the advice/stuff I learned from my own event. If anyone else has other tips and tricks for making a fancy game night, share in the comments! I know most people probably read the Gaming Gastronomy section for the food as opposed to a short essay on fancy tea parties written by a young American, so without further ado, here’s the recipe you’ve all been waiting for.
Most of the stuff I baked for the party was from recipes by other people from the Internet, but I modified a couple recipes on the fly for these cookies.
Cinnamon Shortbread Cookies
Makes around two and a half to three dozen cookies with about a one and a half inch diameter
- 1½ sticks softened butter
- 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
- A light cookie sheet
- Parchment paper (technically optional but recommended)
- A mixing bowl
- Something to cream butter and sugar with- I normally use a hand mixer, but whatever works the best for you.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy then mix in the vanilla. Gradually add the flour, salt, and cinnamon to the butter mix until it comes together. Sometimes I don’t end up using all of the flour depending on how stiff the dough is getting. Roll the dough into a log using some parchment paper to get a nice circle shape for later or cut into fun shapes. Chill for at least one hour in the fridge.
- Preheat your oven to 350˚F and line cookie sheet or use a non-stick sheet. If you used the log method then roll it out of the parchment and cut ¼ inch slices. Spread your cookies out evenly on the sheet with at least a quarter to a half inch of space.
- Bake for 10-15 mins or until the edges are just starting to brown then take them out to cool. If you find this makes too many cookies in a batch for you then you can freeze the uncooked batter in your freezer for up to 6 months and bake from frozen dough.
The amount of cinnamon is an approximation as normally when I bake with cinnamon I just keep shaking some in until it looks good. That time they came out with about the flavor of snickerdoodles in the heaviness of the cinnamon. If you like some bite to your cookies, add more. If you don’t like cinnamon cookies, the recipe turns out fine without it, although it’s probably a little bland.
In the photos I had pink and blue cookies. You can color your dough to make fun patterns. I ended up using around 5-6 drops of neon blue and neon pink food coloring for half of the dough to get a good color, but whatever gets you the color you want would work. If you use a light cookie sheet they don’t get very dark in the oven, keeping your color pretty bright. The cinnamon does mean that whatever color you use will be slightly brown-tinted, so reds/pinks and greens often work better with that.
In the coming weeks, check back here on Mondays for more delectable recipes from personalities around the game industry.