Westworld Cookies and the Inward Journey

Some people choose to see the ugliness in this world, the disarray.  I choose to see the beauty.  To believe that there is an order to our days.  A purpose.  -Dolores, Westworld

I marathoned “Westworld” after my brother told me about it last month.  While robot and sci-fi movies have never really appealed to me in the past, something about this show resonated.  I think that choosing to see beauty instead of ugliness is one of the best things that we can do to improve our lives; I don’t care that the advice is coming from a robot!  I guess that you could call this recognition of beauty a form of “gratitude,” something that we can all practice a little more.  Much like Dolores in Westworld is tasked with getting to the center of a maze to find consciousness, we can all realize that our paths should look inward instead of up.

While sometimes I get frustrated that the career that makes me happiest is also one that physically challenges me the most, I know deep down that I have improved my life dramatically by doing what I love.  I like to examine my career path with this thoughtfully inward approach.  Constantly trying to move upward with achievements and job titles rather than inward with personal growth and challenges will ultimately lead to career burnout and dissatisfaction.  I believe that it’s better to take things at your own pace and let your next move be the perfect move for you.  It won’t necessarily be what others think your next perfect move should be, and that’s okay.  If you’re going to lose the beauty of the journey, why even go on the journey?

I was so excited to make these Westworld-inspired cookies and mini cake.  It’s not often that I fall in love with a show, and Westworld deserves to be memorialized in pastry form.  The cookies are decorated with royal icing with a hint of lemon flavor.  The mini cake is three (mini!) layers of chocolate espresso cake with vanilla buttercream in between.  I piped a loose representation of the maze featured in Westworld on top of the cake… are you able to find your way to the center?

Is there a tv show that you’ve really connected with in some way?  What show would you like to see represented in cookie form next?


Shawty Got a A**

One of the best things about baking at home is that you can take yourself as seriously as you want.  I was trained in the strict, sort-of-stuffy French approach to the pastry arts, and I’m glad that I was.  I developed an appreciation for clean lines, exact piping, and the perfect crumb.  I learned that keeping on top of that endless pile of dirty dishes is crucial to keeping one’s sanity in the kitchen.  I learned to multitask and scale ingredients, make a earl gray ganache, fill chocolate shells, and stir caramel within a couple hours, all while politely grappling with a partner for the one tabletop stove that we had to share during our 3-day exams.  In short, I ramped up my sometimes pesky perfectionism to a new level.

It is still possible to attack a project that doesn’t take itself too seriously with a professional eye.  Take these donkey-shaped cookies, for example.  Sometimes you just have to let loose.  Pastry can be intimidating sometimes, but you have to keep it fun.  I prescribe a batch of donkey cookies as the antidote to your puff pastry burn-out, your long day at work, and your general winter malaise.  If the neon colors don’t wake you up, the sugar kick will.

If you’re a democrat, even more of a reason to whip these up!  Politics weren’t on my mind when I decided to design some kick-ass donkeys, but if you do want to find a republican elephant cookie cutter, there are plenty out there.  Whatever you decorate, be sure that you add lots of sprinkles.  Little pieces of colorful sugar are cheaper than therapy!  Unless, maybe, you eat as many of them as I do…