This Monday was Labour Day in New Zealand. Labour Day celebrates the achievements of the labour union movements - in particular the 8 hour working day.
At the moment in New Zealand, the newly strengthened ruling National Party, with a little help from it's coalition partner, the Act Party (with 1 member in parliament) are expected to pass legislation that significantly weakens the rights of employers. The legislation was put on hold prior to the general election because at that point, the National Party didn't have the numbers to pass it. Now that they can, the power of employees to bargain with their employers is set to be significantly reduced.
The tea breaks, and the loss of them, have come to symbolise the issue.
Before I started studying again, while I was working, I was a member of my respective union and as long as all the members keep the union in check, I think that they hold great potential to equalise the huge imbalance of power between employees and employers. My line of work (medicine) does not have protected breaks because patient safety trumps them. However, I know how difficult this can be after having spent too many days walking out of the hospital and realising that I hadn't taken a single bathroom break, or trying to work a ten hour shift without breakfast, lunch or dinner. In jobs where breaks can safely be protected, they very well should be.
To stand in solidarity with the workers whose rights are in jeopardy, I had a tea break. Not just any tea break but an all-out T.A.R.D.I.S teapot, good china cups and saucers tea break.
To accompany the tea, I made a duo of sables. Lemon-cornmeal and chocolate ones to be specific. They had a nice synergy because the lemon ones used two yolks and the chocolate, two whites. The lemon ones were a bit too imperfect to share here but the chocolate ones were delicious and beautiful to boot. Despite being squeezed through a piping bag, the cookies are light and when you bite into them, it is as if the crumbs were only held together by the weakest forces. The cocoa, sugar and butter are mixed in exactly the right proportions to create a rich, chocolatey, not-too-sweet mouthful. It is no surprise that they were created by Pierre Herme, a master of all sweet things.
Pierre Herme's Viennese chocolate sables
very gently adapted Butter and Brioche
makes about 20 cookies
40g cocoa powder, sifted
1/2tsp sea salt
250g butter, cubed and at room temperature
100g icing sugar
2 egg whites (3-4Tb)
flaky salt for sprinkling on top of the cookies
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
2. Place the butter in a large bowl and beat until it is creamy and becomes lighter in colour.
3. Add icing sugar and beat again until pale and well-combined. Add egg whites and beat again.
4. Stir in the flour, cocoa and sea salt and stir. I found that I needed extra egg white to achieve dough with a pipe-able consistency.
5. Using any large piping tip, pipe cookies onto the prepared trays. I piped rosettes that were about 3.5cm in diameter. Sprinkle with a little flaky salt.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through that time.
7. Cool the cookies on the trays, they will harden as they cool.
The cookies should keep for 4-5 days in an airtight container at room temperature.