Recipe for Disaster: Consolation Cookies
March 8 was International Women’s Day. For one day, all women made the same amount of money as men — and it was a living wage, too. There was no rape or gendered violence of any kind, paid maternity leave became mandatory, and hiring practices were fully egalitarian. Girls were invited, debt-free, into secondary-education STEM programs to increase gender diversity in the field. Plus, tampons, pads, birth control, and hormone replacement therapy were all free!
At which point I roll my eyes hard enough to massage my frontal lobe.
What is the meaning of International Women’s Day? It started as a socialist holiday meant to celebrate women who went on strike for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. In most places it’s an official holiday meant specifically to draw attention to the plight of women worldwide ( for example, in Italy and Russia it’s like Valentine’s Day — women get flowers and chocolate). As with almost every nonreligious holiday, it’s more of a capitalist gesticulation than anything. That and a good excuse to flaunt even more feminist opinions than usual on Twitter.
Sounds wonderful in theory; I like flowers and chocolate and incendiary tweets, too! But flowers and chocolate don’t stop female genital mutilation or suicide bombings or acid attacks or wage disparity or racism or intimate partner violence. And no one-time-deal on par with Arbor Day can really be that effective in spreading awareness, especially when it’s met with men (but #notallmen, of course) posting horrific (and deadly boring) rants about the lack of an International Men’s Day.
The two realms in which I tread, music and food, are two of the most woman-hating, sexist, awful industries to work in. Ostensibly this is because — and bear with me, because this is yet another of my means-of-production, class-war-is-the-only-war tears — these are fields where, for the most part, women do the majority of the work and men get the majority of the recognition.
Home cooking is still done primarily by women, but the restaurant industry disproportionately highlights male chefs. Even Michelin-starred female chefs earn an average of $19,000 less per year than their male counterparts. Similar rates appear when you look at enrollees in culinary arts institutes or the placement of head chefs by male restaurant group owners.
The reality is this: Men overwhelmingly hold the highest-paying and most prominent kitchen jobs at ambitious, independent restaurants across America. Women occupy just 6.3 percent, or 10 out of 160 head chef positions at 15 prominent U.S. restaurant groups analyzed by Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, it’s nearly impossible for even lifelong female producers to receive adequate credit for their work on their own music. All-gal backup singing groups are just now getting accolades they deserved back in the Sixties and Seventies, when their songs were hits. And, of course, some female artists are roped into contracts that result in them being forced to work with their rapist, at the risk of not being able to release music at all.
These industries are toxic, debilitating, and damaging to women. And FYI, we’re already dealing with toxic, debilitating shit every time we turn around thanks to the patriarchal culture we live in. We commit to doing the work we love in difficult fields like music and cooking, knowing the odds are stacked against us. Even when we’re doing the things that make us feel most like ourselves, the things we’re best at, we are still up against a wall of gendered abuse: financial, sexual, emotional, physical.
But hey, for consolation, have a day. On that day, voicing even your simplest statement of support for this holiday and concept will probably put you under a diarrhea-stream of responses from Meninist Twitter. You’ll wake up in the morning knowing you have to undergo a regimen couched as "hygiene" in order to seem presentable in a society that worships unrealistic expectations of beauty. On the walk to work you’ll be harassed, probably a few times, and your response determines whether or not your harassers will follow you for several blocks — or worse. You may be profiled (by police or average citizens) along your journey depending on who you encounter. On the train, a pair of manspreaders will force you to perch on the cusp of two seats. At your restaurant job, where your lazy, stoned male coworkers earn more money than you, a delivery guy will grab your ass. Men will yell gendered slurs at you. If you protest, you will lose even more of their respect. You leave work late after having your suspiciously light tip-out handed to you in an envelope, counted out behind a closed door by a male manager who doesn’t trust you to do it yourself. Things don’t improve when you head to band practice. The stares of the dudes smoking in the hallway get you first. Is that your boyfriend’s guitar? You show up grumpy and your bandmates ask if you have your period. They talk over you. You leave without accomplishing much, knowing you’re supposed to feel grateful for being allowed into the kitchen and the practice space, these boy zones, at all. The next day, and for the next forty fucking years, you do it over and over again.
Happy International Women’s Day.
These cookies are based on the Momofuku Compost Cookie recipe developed by one of my heroes (she-roes? I hate that term but I want to use it here), Chef Christina Tosi.
2 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
1 cup + 2 tbsp white sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup dry milk powder*
1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup miniature chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips (or white chips, M&M’s, etc)
1/3 cup rolled oats
2 1/2 tsp ground coffee (I used Bustelo, and it ruled)
2 cups plain salted potato chips (Kettle chips work best)
1 cup miniature pretzels (or one fifty-cent bodega bag of regular pretzels broken up into small pieces if you forgot to get the good pretzels)
*Note: You only need a quarter cup of powdered milk, but it comes in a package the size of a box of laundry soap. I’m sorry I’m making you buy this, but you need it for this recipe. You can not substitute powdered coffee creamer or leave it out. It won’t be the same. Trust me.
First, make a batch of graham crust: Whisk the graham cracker crumbs, powdered milk, 2 tbsp of sugar and 3/4 tsp of salt in a bowl. Melt the half stick of butter in a double boiler (that’s a metal or glass bowl set over a pot of boiling water to indirectly heat and melt the contents), then whisk in 1/4 cup heavy cream. Add butter and cream mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until it becomes a sort of wet-sand mixture you can smush in your hands (as if you’re going to smush it into a pie tin to make a graham crust, that is). You only need half of this recipe for one batch of cookies, but it will keep in the fridge for a month, and you’ll make these cookies again before then.
Now, in a medium bowl, whisk your flour, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining 1 tsp of salt together and set aside.
In a big bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream your remaining 2 sticks of butter with the brown and white sugars and the 1 tbsp of corn syrup for a few minutes until combined, then scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure you got everything.
Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat for another five to six minutes with a hand mixer or on a stand mixer, or for like ten years if you’re doing it by hand. It will look like fluffy meringue when you’re done.
Slowly, in two batches, mix in the flour mixture. Stir just until it comes together.
Add chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crust, oatmeal, and ground coffee. Stir until combined.
Last, add pretzels and chips. Stir until everything is just incorporated.
Drop even amounts of dough onto a parchment-lined/oiled/nonstick cookie sheet using a medium cookie scoop (or a giant ice cream scoop if you’re an idiot like me and that’s all you’ve got). Gently press the dough blobs to flatten slightly. Wrap cookie sheets in plastic wrap and chill for an hour. DON’T SKIP THIS STEP. It really helps to refrigerate and reset your dough because of the amount of butter holding this recipe together. I’m serious, don’t forget!
After an hour, preheat your oven to 375. Remove plastic wrap from the cookie sheets. Bake for 14 to 18 minutes, depending on how fussy your oven is (I burned half of mine because life is pain and existence is suffering). Let them cool on the cookie sheet for ten minutes before transferring them to cooling rack.
The goal is to get the cookie to be thin, with the outsides crispy and caramelized like sables or Italian pizzelle, and for the insides to still have a bit of softness. You’ll know if you did it right because you’ll be given the keys to the city, birds will help you get dressed in the morning, and you’ll start having spontaneous orgasms.
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