Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Yesterday was Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you! Nyuk, nyuk!), and at the last minute, I invited some folks over to watch The Empire Strikes Back. We cooked up some Princess Leia buns, served Yoda Soda, and had a great time. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to bake Wookiee Cookies. The good news is I have some old Wookiee Cookie photos and the recipe in my head, so for those of you who wanted the low-down on Wookiee Cookies, here ya go.
Let me preface this post by saying I am not really a Star Wars fan. Growing up, my only exposure to Star Wars was a small collection of action figures that belonged to my friend Jared. Jared was about 5 or 6 years my senior, the son of my mom’s friend, and I thought he was too cool for school. He had a thick mop of blonde hair, bright blue eyes, he could walk to 7-11 without an adult accompanying him, and he listened to Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, and Led Zeppelin. I was completely enamored.
In an effort to get Jared to notice me, I tried to feign interest in his little figurine collection, which rested on his bedside table on top of a mat of silky white faux fur. One afternoon we were both in his bedroom. Looking back, he was probably babysitting me, but deep in my hopeful heart I dreamed he had actually done everything in his power to get out of going dirt-biking with his friends, just so he could stay home and spend time with me. With tremendous effort, I pulled my starry eyes away from Jared’s dimples and tousled hair and focused my attention on the small plastic figures beside me. I mean, we all know the way to a man’s heart is to get him talking about himself and his interests. Am I right ladies?
“Hey Jared,” I said as casually as a 7 year old could, “who’s this green alien guy?”
“That,” Jared said, rolling his eyes at me, “is Yoda. He’s only the most wise and powerful Jedi Master in the entire universe, duh!”
“Oh,” I replied.
I had no idea what a Jedi Master was. What I did know was that Jared had just said “duh” to me. Any self-respecting 7 year old knows that when someone says “duh” to you, you better shape up quick and say something smart lest you look like a complete fool.
I knew I was in over my head, and I knew there was a very slim chance of sounding intelligent about anything related to Star Wars, but I couldn’t stop. The future of my life with Jared was on the line! I had to continue this conversation for the sake of the children we would eventually have together.
“Hey,” I said, picking up a small likeness of Carrie Fisher, clothed in a flowing white robe, “so um…why is this girl wearing earmuffs?”
“Those aren’t earmuffs, that’s her hair.” Jared ripped the figurine from my hands and looked at me in disbelief.
“This is Princess Leia,” he said. “Don’t you know who Princess Leia is?”
“Sure,” I lied. “She’s...a princess.”
“Right, and she’s also Luke Skywalker’s sister!”
“Oh. Right, right. I forgot about that. Heh, heh.”
My cover was nearly blown. I had to redeem myself if I ever wanted Jared to invite me to eat Pop Rocks and throw dirt bombs with him and his buddies down by Oak Creek. I could tell he was already disinterested. His back was to me and he was rooting around in his closet for his favorite AC/DC t-shirt. I picked up another action figure and asked, “So, this is the Princess’s bodyguard, right?”
“Yeah,” he replied, his head buried in a mound of clothes, “kinda. Chewbacca is pretty much everyone’s bodygua...”
I looked up. Jared had emerged from the closet, a screen print of Malcolm & Angus in hand, his gorgeous hair even more disheveled than normal. He was staring down at my sweaty, balled up fists, which were gripping the hard, plastic statuette as if my life depended on it. Slowly, his eyes made their way to my face, and he stared at me with what I imagined was intense, unbridled passion. Finally!, I thought, Jared has recognized his true feelings for me! He’s going to ask me to be his girl, I just know it!
“Aimee,” he said, trying to control himself, “that is nobody’s bodyguard. That is Darth Vader. And…you…just…broke…his…LIGHTSABER!!”
I looked down and saw a pink, thin bit of plastic on the floor, with a black gloved hand attached to it. And then I started to cry.
Needless to say, our love story never panned out, and I carried a permanent disdain for all things Star Wars-related into early adulthood.
That is, until I met my dear friend Wren in college. Wren and I first lived together one summer when my lease expired and I needed a place to stay for 2-3 months before the school year started. There was an opening in her house, and I gratefully took it.
I soon learned that Wren is a hardcore Star Wars fan. My internal response to this, naturally, was “Great. Just what I need – another Star Wars nutso.” Wren tried in vain to explain the Star Wars story to me, and I adamantly fought her tooth and nail. Not only did I not care a lick about Star Wars, I also found it too complicated and confusing. So many people that may or may not be related, so many weird names to keep track of, so many solar systems and planets and spacecrafts...it was just too much!
Wren persisted though, and one evening in the midst of finals, I became weak. She had made popcorn, and I emerged from my bedroom, my olfactory senses following the aroma of buttered goodness. I felt weary from staring at and proofreading an essay on global systems in social services, and as I rubbed my tired eyes, I was oblivious to the videos sitting out next to the TV. Wren offered me some popcorn, and I gladly accepted. I sat there munching for a minute or two, my thoughts lost in service delivery models and best practices, when Wren suddenly piped up and said, “So...wanna watch a movie?”
“Sure,” I said, barely noticing the glimmer in her eyes, “I could use a break. Anything to get my mind off of this paper.”
“Okay!” she responded gleefully, “I’m going to show you Star Wars!”
I didn’t even have time to protest as she zoomed to the TV at a hyperspeed pace and turned on the VCR. I sat there in a stupor as she disappeared upstairs, then came rushing back down with a plastic bucket bearing the faces of the Star Wars cast. Slowly she began to unload its contents on the living room coffee table. One by one, she set out the entire cast of every Star Wars film ever made…in the form of Pez dispensers.
That’s right, kids. I was schooled in all things Star Wars with the help of Pez and an over-zealous Star Wars fanatic. My dear friend was wise enough to recognize that, as a kinesthetic learner, I needed solid representation of what I was learning. I think we used a Nerf ball to represent the Death Star, and an empty Tupperware container to represent the Millennium Falcon.
That night we had a Star Wars marathon. We watched the original trilogy, staying up until around 2am and pausing as necessary if I had questions or became confused. The next night, we watched episodes 1 & 2. (Revenge of the Sith hadn’t come out yet.) Wren was very patient with me, sometimes explaining a particular sequence two or three times so I could get it.
In the end, I enjoyed the films. I certainly didn’t LOVE them like so many other people did, but I could at least carry on a conversation about Star Wars at a party (if I absolutely had to).
A year or two later, Wren showed me a menu she’d made for a Star Wars party. It included items such as Princess Leia cinnamon buns, Yoda soda, and Wookiee cookies. I was blown away. The detail and creativity that had gone into making the menu was so clever and fun. I’ve since begged Wren to send me a copy of her menu, just so I can pull it out every once and awhile and chuckle at it. But she continues to keep it secret.
I can, however, recreate the Wookiee cookies, because Wren made them dozens of times during the years we’ve lived together. The recipe is pretty easy and a lot of fun...
1. Find your favorite peanut butter cookie recipe for the dough. If you don’t like peanut butter cookies, use a chocolate chip cookie recipe. Here’s the recipe I used:
1 1/4 cups flour, sift or stir before measuring
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside. Cream shortening, peanut butter, and sugars; beat in vanilla and egg. Stir in flour mixture, blending well.
2. Get a bag of Snickers Minis, unwrap a few, and cut them in half. Like so:
3. Smoosh a bit of Mini into a ball of cookie dough, then roll the dough around to completely cover the Mini, so it’s in the center of the cookie.
4. Place the cookies an inch or so apart on a cookie sheet and bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes.
5. Wren suggests drizzling a bit of melted chocolate over the top of the cookies, to give them a bit more character. The ghetto Safeway chocolate chips I had didn’t melt very well, so drizzling really wasn’t an option. It was more like “splattering”. Hmm. Let’s just say the chocolate was squirted on with plasma-converting, laser-firing, “blaster” rayguns. Yeah. That sounds about right.
The best part is when you get a cookie that has melted a bit and spilled out the Snickers center onto the baking sheet, like this:
Crispy, crunchy, caramel! So tasty!
Now, you’re probably wondering why these beauties are called Wookiee Cookies. The answer is clear to anyone who knows anything about Star Wars. The reason they’re called Wookiee Cookies, dear readers, is because...there’s a Chewie inside. Of course! Enjoy, friends.
And believe it or not, I still have not seen Revenge of the Sith in it’s entirety. So sue me!
Special thanks to my ex, Andy. These photos were taken in his kitchen.