It’s hard to believe that it has been nearly 25 years since the two of us were spending every Wednesday night in the Gatehouse basement, churning out the Features section late into the night and developing valuable skills and a lifelong friendship. After polishing stories from our writers, putting the finishing touches on our own features and laying out pages, we would use our last bit of sleep-deprived, slap-happy creativity to put together the “Cartoons, Etc.” page. This included constructing a quirky Word Find — with themes such as “Parsnip (And Other Words We Like)” and “After This, I Get to Go to Sleep (And Other Things to Be Happy About)” — and of course, writing “Eat This!,” the recipe column.
When we heard that The News-Letter was asking alumni to contribute articles in honor of the publication’s 125th anniversary, Sandhya immediately suggested that she and Emily write a recipe column.
“We kind of pre-dated the life story before recipe blog trend,” she texted Emily.
Emily agreed, and more importantly, the Magazine Editors agreed, and so here we are. Back in the 1990s, the recipe column allowed us to connect to things we missed back home (like the Scotch Eggs Sandhya's mother used to make, and Emily’s mother’s Passover Kugel). Today, we are pleased to say that in honor of our News-Letter editor careers, we have saved writing this recipe column for the very last minute.
Writing this column has brought back so many memories of those unforgettable Gatehouse traditions. Like overhearing somebody unintentionally saying something that could be construed as a double entendre, and then immediately grabbing a Sharpie to immortalize it on the Gatehouse walls. Or taking a nap in the hammock hanging from the ceiling in the front office. Or the time-honored tradition of typing caption text directly into PageMaker and forgetting to check for typos. Or sneaking into the Baltimore Museum of Art sculpture garden late at night through a tiny door in the Gatehouse’s back room. (We’re sure the door’s not there anymore and no one ever does that these days.)
As the night wore on, there were a few things that would keep us going until we finally completed our pages and could stumble home to bed for a few hours. The two of us would always start singing in harmony at some point, usually to “Killing Me Softly” or “We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place.” And at some point, someone would make a run to Royal Farms to stock up on whatever forms of processed carbs might help the editors make it across that week’s finish line.
So in honor of the late-night Gatehouse snack fests, we present a cookie bar that incorporates a plethora of different kinds of junk food popular among college journalists. This recipe is a tribute to intrepid college newspaper editors everywhere, running on fumes and refined sugar, dedicated to meeting those deadlines no matter what obstacles lie in their way, from the biological need for sleep, to competing deadlines for assignments that will actually be given a grade. We recommend this recipe for stress eating for deadlines or finals.
Without further ado, we give you... Gatehouse Cookie Bars. (We decided to leave out the Fun Dip, even though that was one of Sandhya’s favorite Royal Farms snacks.)
Gatehouse Cookie Bars
1 ½ cups flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 stick (½ cup) butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup M&M’s
Your favorite candy bar, chopped into small pieces (we recommend eight mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, four fun-size Twix bars or five snack-size Heath bars)
½ cup chopped pretzels
½ cup crushed potato chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper.
- Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat to combine.
- Fold in the chocolate chips, M&M’s, chopped up candy bar, pretzels and potato chips. Reserve some of each ingredient for sprinkling on top of the cookie bars.
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Top with reserved junk food.
- Bake for 30 minutes until the center of the cookie bars is set.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing.
Adapted from The Happy Mustard Seed.