Friday, December 17, 2010

A small act of defiance

Last summer my family went to live in Lausanne, Switzerland.  I mean no disrespect to the Swiss here, but I found the country stifling and conformist and very very xenophobic.  While we were there, we received a newspaper with this ad/poster on it:
picture from here
Apparently this is a normal thing in Switzerland - these posters are everywhere, at bus stops, taped to bulletin boards in restaurants, wrapped around telephone poles, and no one stops for a second.  The same newspaper that we received talked about the dangers of "etranger criminale" - what my family quickly deemed "criminal stranger."  
We were criminal strangers for fare evasion on the subway, for when my eleven-year-old sister wrapped a scarf around her head, for laughing and talking too loudly at the beach.  We were criminal strangers for openly condemning the xenophobia of a newspaper circulated by the government that asked "how much longer must we tolerate Islam?"  We were criminal strangers because we don't believe that a country should outlaw mosques.  So today, back home in Boston, I put together my admittedly pathetic and tiny act of defiance.
I made cookies today.  Chocolate-black pepper cookies, and the dough is this wonderfully rich shade of deep deep brown.  Cooked, they almost seem black.  Today I made pan after pan of chocolate cookies shaped like sheep.  Not much, but an awful lot of fun.  Merry Christmas, Switzerland.  Have a cookie.

(see the recipe and such after the jump!)

Chocolate - Black Pepper Sheep, adapted from "Martha Stewart's Christmas":
3 sticks butter (I use salted.  If you don't, add some salt in the recipe somewhere)
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 cups flour (I use all-purpose flour.  Martha also says to sift it and I'm still not sure what that means)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (try to use the nice dark stuff because they look nicer and taste better that way)
freshly ground black pepper (okay, this is a little weird, because when I'm grinding pepper I grind it straight into the mixing bowl, not into a teaspoon first.  Martha calls for 1/3 of a teaspoon.  I put in two little heaping piles, which probably means about a tablespoon, and it isn't too hot.  But I like slightly spicy sweet things)
cayenne pepper (Martha calls for a "pinch."  I put in two teaspoons because it is delicious.)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cream the butter and sugar and add the eggs.  Add dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/eggs, but combine them first so that you don't have concentrated cocoa in one place and cayenne in another.  Also, if you're doing this in a freestanding mixer like I did, you probably want to wrap a tea towel around the space between the bowl and the top of the mixer because when you add the dry ingredients, they go everywhere.  It took forever to clean up the counter.  Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.  Roll out the dough (not too thin) and grease a baking sheet or two.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Take your sheep cookie cutter (I have no idea where you get those things... the internet?  Maybe?) and cut out sheep from the dough.  Bake for 8 minutes.  After 8 minutes is up, the cookies are still pretty fragile, so you might want to let them sit on the baking sheets for a couple of minutes before you do something else with them.

I couldn't find a picture on the internet and my digital camera isn't working, but they come out really cute.  Also, in my family, we call sheep "ships."  So now you have delicious black ships!

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