Saturday, March 6, 2010

Beware the Ides of March: Fallen Caesar Cookies

Cook ‘Em if You Got ‘Em is pleased and proud to present you, for the first time EVER, a holiday recipe well in advance of a holiday: Fallen Caesar Cookies for the Ides of March!

OK, so it’s not really a holiday, and I’m the only one who celebrates it, and the cookies usually freak people out. But still!

Here, I’ll let you in on the backstory. When I first moved to the Twin Cities, it was in the middle of a recession. I worked for a school library book publisher. A lot of the staff were, like me, Gen Xers right out of school. In college, we’d been writers, visual artists, English majors, theater minors. Now we were working for abysmal pay in a company with a World War II–era business model. We were energetic but cynical; creative but financially crippled.

Those times were an anxious mix of compliance and defiance. The myth of the American Dream was evaporating for college graduates across the country who would NOT be doing better than our parents. As well, I didn’t know anyone my age who was interested in the Baby Boomer live-to-work ethic. We didn’t want to be like the older adults around us, but we were scrambling to establish adult identities. For me and everyone I knew at Lerner, this included finding and using our creative voices as artists.

So we were constantly doing things like, say, composing haikus about our lunches. Or making Jello aquariums, complete with Swedish fish, for the company potluck. Or using decorative gourds to create dioramas of famous characters in literature.

Or commemorating the Ides of March by baking sugar cookies decorated with stab wounds and staging a recital, in a Boston accent, of Marc Antony’s funeral speech from Julius Caesar. This was so much fun that I started doing it every year.

Now we’re in a much worse recession than the one in which I came of age. I look at the young adults around me and I can remember how it felt, but I can’t imagine what’s going to happen: what career paths will they have? How will the world change because of them, and how will it change them?

And THAT is why I’m putting out the call: everyone bake these cookies for March 15. Take them to work if you have a job. Or take them to school, or to church, or send a box to a distant friend. Just share them however you can. Read the funeral speech. Not for any logical reason. Just because it’s the Ides of March, and we should all beware, and tough times call for ridiculous measures.

Fallen Caesar Cookies
Use your favorite cookie dough recipe to make my traditional non sequitur response to The Man. My favorite is Rich Rolled Sugar Cookies from Joy of Cooking.

1 recipe sugar cookie dough
1 tube of red Cake Mate decorating gel
1 cookie cutter shaped like a person, i.e. gingerbread boy

Roll out the dough and cut out the shapes. Transfer shapes to a cookie sheet. Use the decorating gel to make seven marks—one for each conspirator in Caesar’s assassination—on each cookie. Use a little pressure to make a slight dent in the surface of the dough.

Bake the cookies, watching carefully. You want to bake them until they are just done, rendering as pale a cookie as possible without underbaking. This will make for more lurid contrast between the cookie and the stab wound. The decorating gel will bake into the cookie and will not brush or smear off after the cookie cools.


  1. Oh, this is awesome!

    Sounds like you and I are about the same age.... I remember graduating college and striking out into that dismal job market. However, I missed my opportunity to create a Jell-o aquarium! How empty and meaningless my life now seems!

    I'll pass your recipe -- and recital ritual -- along. :)

  2. Yaaaaaay, Jennifer! Let's create a whole army of fallen Caesars.

    And hey, you're not dead yet! You can still make a Jell-o aquarium. It may be harder to find someone who will EAT it, but that's not insurmountable either.


  3. my children and I are about to make these - beware!


  4. Yaaaaaay! Teach the children well... aww, that song always makes me cry.

  5. getting ready for our 2nd year of celebrating the Ides of March. This year we are also adding a Roman Feast - the children are refusing to eat the snails, but the dormice (chicken - where does one find dormice these days) are going to be a pleaser.

  6. Kimba,

    Yaaaay for the second year in a row! Are you going to roast a peacock and put all its feathers back on?!


Thanks for your comments - nothing scatological, please. If you wouldn't bring it in the kitchen, please don't say it here.