Neal Shusterman’s Unwound Cookies

Neal Shusterman’s Unwound Cookies

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
(Simon & Schuster, 2007), 352 pages,
Gr. 7 and up

In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would “unwind” them. Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed — but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.

Neal ShustermanIn Unwind, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award winner Neal Shusterman challenges readers’ ideas about life — not just where life begins, and where it ends, but what it truly means to be alive.

In Unwind, unwanted teens are used for their body parts, with the understanding that 100 percent of them must be used in transplant, so “technically” they’re still alive.  However, this has created a society where buying and selling body parts and brain tissue has become big business.  It is not unusual in this dystopian society for a person to be made up of several different people.  But how can that be represented in a recipe?  That’s when I came up with Unwound Cookies. . . The whole might be greater than the sum of the parts, but when it comes to people, it’s important to consider where those parts came from . . .

Note:  In addition to a mixing bowl, you’ll need 3 smaller bowls to divide the batter.  The batter will be sticky, so keep a small bowl of flour handy, and use it to dust your hands frequently when rolling the balls.

For the batter:

2-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the mix-ins:

1/3 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup raisins
1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
½ cup semisweet chocolate morsels
½ cup peanut butter morsels

Flour for dusting hands (see note)

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In medium bowl of a standing mixer, cream butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla, and combine.   Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined.  Do not overmix.
  4. Divide batter equally between 4 small bowls (about 1 cup of batter per bowl).  Use a spoon to mix the rolled oats and raisins into the batter in one bowl, the cocoa powder into another bowl, the chocolate morsels into another bowl, and the peanut butter morsels into the last bowl.
  5. Generously dust your hands with flour.  Roll a marble-sized ball from each bowl.  Push the 4 balls together snugly, place on an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly with your palm.  Continue with remaining batter, placing the dough shapes 2 inches apart.  Bake for 11 – 12 minutes, or until cookies are browned on top.  Allow cookies to cool for 10 minutes on baking sheets, then remove to a cooling rack.

Yield:  About 18 large cookies