September 5th is Freddie Mercury’s birthday; it is also the annual charity fund-raising event Freddie For A Day, in which people dress up as Freddie and raise money through sponsorship towards the Mercury Phoenix Trust to fight AIDS. I’ve wanted to do something as part of celebrating Queen’s 40th anniversary and, seeing all the recent Freddie For A Day activity, decided on something fun with moustache-shaped cookies. This idea was made even better after I read this on Queen’s official website.
I got the idea for moustache cookies when I saw them on Pinterest a while back and found moustache cookie cutters online. I decided to do it myself, though, since the generic moustache cookie cutter is not reflective of Freddie or, indeed, his moustache. Until they start selling Freddie Mercury moustache cookie cutters, D.I.Y. will have to be the way.
I made the basic shape from tracing the shape of a fake clip-on moustache that’s being sold on the FFAD online shop (they also sell the Wembley costume and, most recently, a mug with a design of Freddie’s moustache) and I cut the cookies tracing the moustache shape with a knife – I would have made my own cookie cutter but I ended up not doing so. Using a knife to cut shapes out of cookie dough means that they won’t be as uniform if I had used a cookie cutter, but I’m fine with that. I cut the cookies into heart shapes as well as moustaches.
The cookies, adapted from a sugar cookie recipe in the Martha Stewart Makes Cookies app, while fine and satisfying on their own, are taken to another level and made irresistible with a chocolate coating – indeed, it’s hard to just stop at one.
Freddie’s moustache was not greeted, at first, with much enthusiasm. There are stories of fans throwing razors and bottles of black nail polish on to the stage as Queen performed and mailing these items to Queen’s headquarters. But the moustache was there to stay, and Freddie would take to talking about it and the reactions he’d get from it, such as in this example below. Note, there is a bit of strong language.
I have most of Queen’s music and I regularly sing a long when I can. My Dad was a Queen fan when he was a teenager (his favourite song is “The March of the Black Queen” from the album Queen II), and in fact I’ve come to think that it’s almost a prerequisite to be a Queen fan in my family! My younger brother mainly likes to listen to ”We Will Rock You” (often on repeat; he likes the fast version as well) and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and, on occasion, “The March of the Black Queen”.
It must have been about two years ago when I first heard “Bohemian Rhapsody” on the radio in the car. I remember it being vaguely surreal. The opera section had started when my Mum parked the car and I sat there, listening in silence, until it was over. Somehow it had an affect on me, I had never heard anything like it before (who hasn’t?) and I felt as if I’d had an epiphany, as one does when realizing a deeper meaning that hadn’t been there before or has his eyes opened for the first time. I remember getting out of the car, feeling slightly in a daze as I digested it all and made up my mind. It would be much later that I’d read these words by Freddie:
It’s one of those songs which has such a fantasy feel about it. I think people should just listen to it, think about it, and then make up their own minds as to what it says to them… “Bohemian Rhapsody” didn’t just come out of thin air. I did a bit of research although it was tongue-in-cheek and mock opera. Why not?
Regarding the fantasy feel, maybe that is why I was also drawn to Freddie’s other (earlier) fantasy-themed songs?
(I had heard, of course, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” before but I hadn’t known who it was or was told and promptly forgetting as I listened to the music. As I got more and more into Queen’s music, I realized this with some surprise. To think I’d been listening to Queen all these years!)
Watching the recent BBC documentary, Days of Our Lives, made me appreciate and love Queen even more. (I can’t wait for it to be released on DVD, with all the extras!) As I might have written before in this space, part of why I love Queen so much is not only for their music but their sense of humour, respectively, and the sense of family in their support for one another – which you don’t always get in music bands, back then or nowadays. A book that I’m enjoying immensely right now is Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock. It was published in 2009 and it is excellent; I wonder how it compares to the book 40 Years of Queen.
“I love the fact that I make people happy, in any form. Even if it’s just half an hour of their lives, in any way that I can make them feel lucky or make them feel good, or bring a smile to a sour face, that to me is worthwhile.” – Freddie Mercury
Next to these cookies, I am also celebrating Freddie’s birthday by playing Queen’s music (as usual) and watching my favourite Queen and Freddie videos on YouTube. Here are some of my favourites: (they definitely make me smile and laugh!)
(Love Freddie’s intros for Queen’s concert at Earls Court (1977), below)
This one, below, I’d never seen or heard of before! I stumbled upon it quite accidentally.
And, of course, let’s not forget this one:
I was also going to paint my nails black in a nod to Freddie with his black nail polish and eyeliner – since I can’t very well grow a moustache – but I had to settle for a deep purple. (Nicole by OPI’s “The Grape Debate”; a gorgeous, luscious, deep, creamy purple. I think it’s my new fave.) I don’t have black nail polish at the present time. I will, however, do the eyeliner on September 5th, like this or a variation thereof. (See my makeup look here.) With better planning, maybe I’ll dress up as Freddie next year!
If you drink, you may wish to check out these two cocktails, named in honour of Freddie: Mercury Rising (a Canadian creation; more cocktail ideas included in link) and the Mercury Margarita. If you happen to be in Brooklyn, New York, you can get a free moustache if you buy a Mercury Margarita on September 5th. Click the link for more details. You can also see all what’s happening Queen- and Freddie-related on September 5th here in this round-up on Queen Online.
Share your Queen and/or Freddie stories in the comments. I love to read them! (Wendy’s story about listening to Queen in her teens made me smile.) Do check out my playlist on trend & chic and feel free to add any of your favourite Freddie songs in the comments. I might have missed one or two!
How are you celebrating Freddie’s birthday?
Adapted from the Martha Stewart Makes Cookies app (for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad)
These cookies are adapted from the app’s Hugs and Kisses Sugar Cookies. They’re also great to have with tea. If you want to make moustache-shaped cookies to celebrate Freddie’s life but can’t handle grains or starches, try these almond flour honey cookies (dairy-free, too!).
If you’re not gluten-free, you can substitute 2 cups all purpose flour. If you’re not sugar-free, you can use 1 cup granulated sugar instead of the honey.
1/2 cup (59 grams) sweet rice flour
1/2 cup (65 grams) cornstarch
1/2 cup (71 grams) brown rice flour
1/2 cup (65 grams) millet flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup (112 grams/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1 large or extra large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
44 grams dark chocolate (I used Green and Black’s organic 72%)
Cookies: Sift the flours, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl.
In a separate medium or large bowl, beat the butter and honey together with a whisk until creamy. The butter and honey may not fully blend together as sugar does with butter, but that’s okay. Mix in the egg and vanilla.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. As the dough gets thicker, you may wish to use a flexible rubber spatula instead of a whisk.
Wrap and chill the dough in the freezer for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place the chilled cookie dough on one of the sheets and lightly dust with flour (I used sweet rice flour). Roll out the dough into a circular shape to a 1/4-inch thickness. Chill the rolled out dough in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Cut the chilled, rolled-out dough and trace a moustache shape with a paring knife (or download and print the cookie template below) and place on to the other lined cookie sheet. If the dough gets too soft, place back in the freezer for 5 minutes. (You may also briefly freeze the cut cookies before going into the oven.) Gather up the scraps and roll again, repeating until all the dough is used.
Bake cookies for 15 to 18 minutes (check after the 15-minute mark), or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the pan.
Tempering chocolate: Fill a small pot with a couple inches of water and bring to a simmer. Once the water is simmering, set a stove-proof bowl over the pot (not in the pot) and melt 50 grams of chocolate in the bowl, stirring occasionally.
As soon as the chocolate has completely melted, remove the bowl from heat and stir the remaining 50 grams of chocolate into the melted chocolate. Stir slowly, with a whisk or wooden spoon.
Assembly: Once the cookies are cool, paint the tops with the tempered chocolate using a butter knife, back of a spoon, or a small pastry brush. Place the cookies on a flat surface, such as a pan or plate and refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 15 minutes. When set, the chocolate looks and feels smooth and glossy.
[Update: September 7th, 2011] As I mentioned, I traced out the basic shape of Freddie’s moustache but it was only after that I realized how helpful it could be to include a template for the cookie shape. My sister designed the cookie template with her drawing tablet and tweaked the shape a bit. (My tracing wasn’t completely even.) Click the image to enlarge for downloading and printing. My sister also has a blog, about writing. You can visit it here.