Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sisters Are Doing it For Themselves

And let me tell you, it is pretty tiring.

For my sister, it means changing the poopy diaper of the son, changing the poopy underpants of the other son with a sweet smile on your face because you're not allowed to get upset with him for having an accident, meeting the increasingly complex emotional and intellectual needs of the brainy, girly daughter, holding back from kicking the son even when he kicks the other son hard, procuring breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all three and their dad, treading water in a sea of boxes as you get settled in a new home, and maybe, just maybe, having 2 minutes to put on lipstick or reminisce fondly on the days when you had a single solitary moment when you were the only one in the room.

For my ex-roommate and dear dear friend, it's graduating from toy design school: hoping to sleep an hour or two each night as you put the finishing touches on Higglytown firetrucks and penguin board games, then perking up for job interviews as you pray that the toy industry will not send you away to Ohio. Keeping feisty mom away from stepmom throughout the graduation festivities since this city really is too small for the two of them, making sure the burping frogs in your learning-manners whack-a-mole say "excuse me" after they've been tapped with the princess's magic wand and not crying when the whole, painstakingly hand-constructed game falls, breaks, and ceases to burp.

For another dear college friend, it is a whole other ball of yarn. It means finally graduating law school, after the whole endeavor was put on hold for a year to make way for chemo. Dealing with a new set of medical mysteries, which, while not as ominous as the 2004 edition, are certainly an annoyance. Trying not to crack as the mother who's taken care of her all her life slowly turns into someone entirely different -- violent, unpredictable, unbearably taxing to every aspect of the family. And, amazingly, it means, holding her head high through all these tribulations, doing her best to find a silver lining, and finally planning the dream wedding that will be as perfect a day as she can hope for if it doesn't make her crazy first.

We women have come a long way. We proved we can do it all countless times over, but man, can it be exhausting -- physically, emotionally, psychologically. If life were fair, it'd all come with massages, naps with the softest blankets, bubble baths, a personal valet, and a couple extra hours to the day. And if life were fair, it'd come with good health, guaranteed, for each woman and her family. Peace of mind, at last.

All we've got is chocolate. These cookies are not going to fix it all, but in the midst of all the mayhem, perhaps closing your eyes, taking a deep breath, and biting into a deeply chocolatey disc laced with soothing chamomile will offer a moment of serenity.

Soothing Chocolate Chamomile Rounds
Adapted from Sally Schneider's The Improvisational Cook

The chamomile flavor is very subtle here, but the chocolate flavor of the cookies can stand on its own. Every few bites you'll get a whisper of the light flowery chamomile scent.

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (I used 7 ounces of Valhrona 71%, and Ghirardelli chocolate chips for the rest)
6 tablespoons butter, unsalted (go for the Plugra for extra deliciousness)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
the contents of 2 chamomile teabags (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cups sugar

Preheat oven to 325F. Line two large cookie sheets with foil.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over simmering water until melted through, stirring occasionally to combine. Allow to cool to just warm.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. With a whisk, beat eggs, chamomile, vanilla, and sugar in a large bowl about 2 minutes. Scrape the chocolate mixture into the eggs and stir to combine. Add flour, and stir until just combined.

Drop the batter by teaspoons onto lined pan. Bake 11 to 13 minutes, until tops of cookies are just dried and the insides are still chewy. If you are baking two sheets at a time, halfway through cooking, switch the top and bottom sheets, turning each one front to back as well. Let the cookies cool slightly, then remove them from the cookie sheet with a thin spatula.


  1. Thank you for the lovely gift of these chocolate cookies. I don't know if it was because you're so nice and thoughtful, or because you think I am leaning precariously over the very precipice of the edge. Doesn't matter. Chocolate is good, no matter what the reason.

  2. glad you liked them, tor. they were made for all the reasons you mentioned. in fact, i liked them so much that i made another batch during the most productive weekend (four days! thanks shrek!) in recent memory.