Orange is Your Color, Martha!- Chocolate-Orange Espresso Thins! -209 eggs, 158 cups of sugar, 155 1/4 sticks of Butter, and 194 1/4 cups of flour used so far- 58 recipes to go!

April 9, 2011


Martha's Chocolate-Orange Espresso Thins

André's Chocolate-Orange Espresso Thins

I have a friend names, Belle who is from Russia. A few Christmases ago she gave my partner and me a box shaped like a gingerbread house and printed to look as though it was covered in snow. Inside was an assortment of traditional Russian candies. “This eez not fer Christmaz!”, she announced. “Vee do not celebrate dee Christmas in Russia. Vee celebrate zee new year.” I told her I didn’t care if she was celebrating the birth of the Anti-Christ, just hand over the candy.

In case you didn’t know, Russians do their own wonderful and unique things with chocolate. Most of these candies were made of a fruity, gelatin-type filling covered in dark, rich chocolate. Once I got past the texture they were actually really good. I’m not a fan of anything gummy or even the name “gummy”, for that matter.  It makes me think of toothless people trying to give me gummy kisses which is just an unpleasant thought.

The reason I mention these Russian chocolate candies is because the flavor of Martha’s Chocolate-Orange Espresso Thins was quite reminiscent of them. Orange and chocolate compliment each other quite well. Imagine the bitter taste of dark chocolate combined with a bit of sour, fragrant orange zest with just a touch of smoky espresso and a flash of sweetness from a generous sprinkling of sanding sugar on top. These flavors are combined with a hint of salt to pull them all together in a thin and crisp butter cookie. That’s Martha’s Chocolate-Orange Espresso Thins.

I baked these for a couple of dinner party guests. I served them with vanilla ice cream and Langues-de-Chat (see my last post). My partner, Dan also brought some of these to work where they quickly transformed into smiles. These are sophisticated cookies perfect for the dark chocolate lovers who don’t mind inviting a little citrus to the dance.

Well you’re a real tough cookie with a long history
Of breaking little hearts, like the one in me
Before I put another notch in my lipstick case
You better make sure you put me in my place

Hit me with your best shot!

Written by Edward Schwartz – Performed by Pat Benatar

If you were around in the late 70s or early 80s or listen to a lot of retro-rock radio, then these lyrics probably seem very familiar. They were sung by a young, feisty and petite opera-studies-drop-out by the name of Pat Benatar. Which brings me to one of my first concert experiences. It was 1980 and I stood in the wings watching this young, exuberant, tiny girl stand in front of a packed house in a satin, green-and-white-polka-dot pair of overalls with a long sleeved, hot-pink, cotton pullover underneath. A large, color-coordinated polka-dot bow bobbed back and forth atop a nest of moussed and tossled hair floating above an overly-painted face. She had a few good moves. She’d give a bump here and a grind there. She’d shake her fingers at the audience beckoning them to… well… hit her with their best shot.

It was all so weird.

The thing is, this event wasn’t at a concert facility. It was at my elementary school cafeteria. The audience was made up of my fellow classmates, their parents, teachers and a handful of nuns. The petite singer prancing to-and-fro on the stage like a deranged, underage harlot was not the famed rock-songstress,  Pat Benatar. Rather, it was my ten-year-old sister, Nicole. It was the school’s annual talent show and I was waiting in the wings to perform a piano-medley-of-songs from the musical, Annie (yes, I am THAT gay) but first the audience was to be given the treat of listening to my little sister singing the cutest rendition of a song about domestic violence they ever heard.  The audience, mostly parents, smiled at each other with raised eyebrows and painfully uncomfortable smiles. I’m sure a few nuns crossed themselves, too.

I hadn’t thought about this unfortunate event in years. It popped into my mind today while Dan and I were driving to Lawrence, Kansas to see his mom and Pat Benatar’s song blasted forth on the radio. It made me smile. It also made me think. At first I thought that perhaps my Mom and Dad were too busy to really pay attention to the fact that their daughter was about to stand in front of a room of Catholics and possibly turn them all into  pillars of salt with her performance. I called my sister, Nicole to confirm I was remembering this story accurately. She spoke of the green-and-white-polka-dotted overalls and how mom had sewn those together for her. Oh, my God- I thought to myself. That means mom knew exactly what Nicole was doing and didn’t think it might be inappropriate.

This made me question how my mom and dad actually hear music. Growing up, my dad always loved ABBA (insert your own joke here). The music of ABBA is fun and it has a good beat but the lyrics are meaningless. The ABBA-ettes hardly spoke any English. They just made pretty harmonies with disco beats. Well, that was good enough for dad.

Mom loved easy-listening music. You know, the stuff you hear in an elevator or in the produce section of the Piggly-Wiggly? Easy listening music doesn’t have lyrics. It’s just mood music. It’s like Valium for your ears.

Today, I had an epiphany. My parents don’t listen to music for the lyrics. They listen for the mood or the beat. They don’t want to be engaged with what a song has to say. They just want it to please their ears.  In my sister’s case, this was unfortunate. I’m sure mom and dad heard their ten-year-old daughter rehearse her number and thought to themselves that she was so adorable be-bopping around the house to a fun song with a nice beat and never actually heard the lyric-

You come on with a come on, you don’t fight fair
But that’s okay, see if I care
Knock me down, it’s all in vain
I’ll get right back up on my feet again

Hit me with your best shot.

I’ve been laughing to myself about this all day. Then I remembered the Summer after fourth grade. My mom sent me to Catholic boys Summer camp where each day started with mass at 6:00 A.M. followed by a day of “Catholic-Inspired” activities- whatever that was suppose to mean. All I really remember from Camp Marydale is a teen counselor trying to feel me up and the weird redheaded kid in my cabin who liked showing his penis to everyone.

Before leaving for camp that Summer, I had to prepare something for the camp’s talent show.

I loved the T.V. program, The Shields & Yarnell Show. For those of you unfamiliar with this particular team, Robert Shields and Lorene Yarnell were a married couple who were skilled in the dark arts known as mime.  So skilled, in fact,  they managed to secure a spot on national prime-time television with a variety act consisting of mime scenarios and dance routines. They were like a very quiet Donny & Marie.  I loved them. I was in the minority, though. Their show was cancelled in its second season.

That’s what I told my mom I wanted to do for the talent show. I’d smear white make-up all over my face, put on a silly hat and try to get out of an invisible box for two-or-three minutes. The audience will love it. Mom thought it was a great idea and sent me off to my doom with a silly hat and a tin of cold cream to smear all over my face.

Luckily the talent show, where I was booed off the stage, was the day before we were to come home. On the long bus ride home every kid asked my what the hell I was trying to do at the talent show. I told them I was performing mime. They looked at me blankly. I explained to them what mime was. They wrinkled their faces, rolled their eyes and pronounced me the faggiest fag that ever fagged a fag.

That’s when I realized that no one likes mime. Even mimes probably don’t like mimes. They probably lock themselves in their invisible boxes and cry a lot of silent tears.

So, I guess the lesson for myself is that while mom was very supportive, she probably wasn’t the best entertainment consultant. My sister and I could’ve used a professional eye or two before stepping foot on stage. But hey, live and learn, y’know?

Incidentally, while I was doing a little research for this post I found out that Lorene Yarnell died last year at the age of 66 of a cerebral aneurism in Norway where she lived with her fourth husband.

I pulled up one of her acts on YouTube. It made me very happy.

A moment of silence is in order, perhaps?

 

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5 Responses to “Orange is Your Color, Martha!- Chocolate-Orange Espresso Thins! -209 eggs, 158 cups of sugar, 155 1/4 sticks of Butter, and 194 1/4 cups of flour used so far- 58 recipes to go!”

  1. Tommy Salami Says:

    I hope, as a clown, you’ve seen Shakes the Clown? You must.

  2. Jocelyn Says:

    Andre-I loved these cookies. I think Katie and I must have had four each.

  3. Sue Says:

    As I was reading this post backwards (from the end to the beginning – don’t ask why), I thought of Shields and Yarnell. Then, your mention of the show! Cool! Very funny story, Andre! I look forward to your posts!


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