This past weekend I celebrated Purim, a Jewish holiday/carnival in memory of the time that we almost all died and then didn’t, again. We’re commanded to get drunk! Adults give children noisemakers on purpose! Sometimes the rabbi wears tights!
Here’s the story: King Ahasuerus of Persia kicks his wife to the curb because she doesn’t want to do a striptease in front of all his friends.
To find his next queen, he has a mandatory beauty contest for all the young women in his kingdom. After a lot of anointing and parading he chooses Esther, a young Jewish orphan in the care of her uncle Mordechai. She keeps her faith a secret and lives in all the bliss that comes with being forced out of her home to marry a royal manchild.
Ahasureus has an advisor named Haman, who really gets off on asserting his authority. Soon after the wedding, Haman decrees that everybody in Persia has to bow down to him. Jewish people aren’t really into genuflecting though. When Mordechai refuses to bow, Haman decides that the reasonable, proportionate response is murdering all the Jews. Ahasureus not only okays this plan but gives Haman ten thousand silver talents to get it done.
I intended to bring it to board game night, my first time back after returning to the East Coast. This cake was meant to be a yellow cake from my favorite recipe, filled with chocolate mousse and wrapped in chocolate frosting. It was also the first cake in almost five months made with the blog in mind. I thought that as soon as I started baking again I’d start writing again, and once I started writing I could figure out some smart, funny way to explain my move back to DC.
Here’s how that went.
I didn’t start baking until 10 at night
I realized I forgot to buy cake flour
I stood at the kitchen counter for thirty minutes debating whether to go back to the store or just give up
This cake is the unholy, beautiful love child of mojitos and egg transmutation. The chiffon cake layers, which get their airiness from whipped egg whites, are delicately sweet and intensely lime-flavored; the mint frosting is soft and light under a crisp outer layer. The whole construction is ridiculously airy. Mojitos are made to be drunk when it is impossibly hot outside and milk makes your whole body want to explode. In that spirit, this cake is dairy free and enjoyable even when it is stupidly fucking hot outside.
In an ideal world, I made a beautiful four-layer cake the night before my roommate’s barbeque and greeted the guests with absolutely no flour on my shirt. In this world, I crushed my hand with a flat pack from Ikea and then got distracted by Parks and Rec, so I had to do all my shopping and baking that morning. If you learn one thing from me, learn this: always drink your coffee before going to the grocery store at seven in the morning.
I MOVED ACROSS THE GODDAMN COUNTRY. I’m in LA now to pursue my dreams/whatever. I have a place to live, I have a day job, all’s well. And I’m scared as fuck.
Back at home in DC, I felt excited and energetic and vibrant. My whole sense of self was based on being loud and determined and larger than life. Yesterday, I came back to the house nervous because some dude was a dick in the gym and people keep beeping at me in traffic. I’m uncertain and lonely and fifteen kinds of homesick. And I thought, is this all it takes to make me feel small?
And then I thought, woman, you just drove 2,400 miles. Of course you feel small. Bake some goddamn bread and don’t give up after only three days.
You ever have a week where all you want to do is break things down to their smallest possible version, smash them flat, and bake them into submission?
Yeah. These are your cookies.
These cookies have other good qualities! They taste like summer. They are ridiculously thin and crisp. You can eat them by the fistful, the flavor profile only deepens over time and they stay good for weeks. But to be completely honest, the main attraction is shredding the shit out of some aromatics and then smashing stuff with a rolling pin.
I’ve made this recipe about 6 times now, but I am only 55% certain that I have discovered all the possible ways to fuck them up. I do not understand cookies. Cakes, I get. Cakes, I can diagnose like a human pastry tricorder. Cookies? I have never known what is going on in those flat bastards. I may never know. So I did some things, and they worked, but I can’t really guess why. These are catharsis cookies, not Greek Theater 302: The Cookies Of Emotional Completion. Proceed with caution.