In last week’s post, Recipe Magic, I told my friend’s story about Stepmother Cookies to illustrate the sometimes mysterious way that certain recipes enter our lives and then become a part of us. I also used the story as a way into my own story about a recipe that might have easily passed me by but somehow got stuck inside me only to bubble up to the surface many years later.
I thought about posting the recipe for Stepmother Cookies along with my recipe for Alsatian Salad but decided against it because it wasn’t my story and the recipe isn’t part of my repertoire. I have since been asked to share the recipe and of course I will. I am not the gatekeeper for Stepmother Cookies. They are a terrifically good cookie and deserve a wider audience.
While I was making a batch of Stepmother Cookies this week to share with you in this post, I thought more about the circumstances behind them. There’s a lot that’s baked into them (wink, wink) that is worth exploring.
What has always interested me in the narrative—as I wrote in last week’s post—is what it revealed to me about the big-hearted nature of my friend who, in the simple act of asking for a recipe for the cookies that her children brought home from their stepmother, signaled to her daughters that it was okay to have two families and that the two could get along. Think about how reassuring that must have been to her children.
But what I realized I also love about this tale is that in naming them Stepmother Cookies, my friend had neutralized any lingering negative connotation associated with the label ‘stepmother’. Labels can be so powerful. This was no evil stepmother out of some fairytale who set out to poison her stepchildren. This was a stepmother who cared enough to make cookies, send her stepchildren home with them, and then share the recipe with their mother. The story says as much about the stepmother as it does the mother. Instead of modeling rivalry they were both modeling cooperation and goodwill.
So yes, by all means, make these cookies. All I ask is that you continue to call them Stepmother Cookies. It is such a touching story that serves as a reminder to all of us who make them that there are small ways that signal big messages when it comes to bridging divides or opening dialogues. No one doesn’t like cookies. Use them as your own way in.
(They also make for wicked good comfort food as we enter into these unconventional times.)
Share Your Stories
If you have a story to tell about bridging divides or opening a dialogue after you make a batch of Stepmother Cookies, please share them in the comments section.
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups oatmeal
2 cups Rice Krispies
12 oz. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350˚
Cream together the butter and sugar in a stand mixer at medium speed until smooth.
Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well-incorporated.
Lower the speed to low. Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda and then slowly add to mixing bowl until well-incorporated.
Remove mixing bowl from stand and by hand, with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, mix in the oatmeal, Rice Krispies and chocolate chips. The batter will be quite stiff and it takes a bit of elbow grease to get the chocolate chips and Rice Krispies incorporated.
Drop by the spoonful onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper and bake 10 minutes (12 minutes if you like your cookies crispy).
Remove cookies from baking sheet and place on wire racks to cool.
Note: I used both a silicone mat and parchment paper and discovered that the cookies that baked on parchment paper baked more quickly and were crunchier.