Toasted walnut white chocolate chunk cinnamon-sugar dipped cookies

“Mmm. You could sell these.” Those were the winning words of praise that John gave me as he took a bite of my greatly-improvised cookie concoction on Saturday night. Then he made me write the recipe down. And because I’m in a generous mood, I’m sharing it with you.

You’ll probably do just fine if you follow the recipe I blatantly ripped off (I mean, adapted. That’s the legal, slightly-respectful form of stealing, right?) But I’m incapable of following a recipe. Even when it comes to baking, which is less forgiving on random additions/substitutions and half-assed measurements. I tend to think, “this would be better with cinnamon,” or “what can I use instead of half an egg? Uh, yogurt is similar, right?”

Anyway, this time it worked out and here is an approximation of how it went down.

P.S. Apparently I can’t call these snickerdoodles because they don’t feature cream of tartar, so you’re stuck with an even longer title.

Cookies with the long title

1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

14 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar (or do what I do: white sugar + 1/2 teaspoon molasses)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract (optional but adds a lovely buttery/marzipan-y flavor)

2 tbsp thick yogurt (vanilla works)

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup white flour

1/4 cup oat flour (finely grind some oats – oat flour adds a lightness to the texture)

1/4 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut (also adds a good texture)

100 g bar white chocolate, chopped in small chunks

topping: 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 cup white sugar

1.. Toast walnuts in a dry skilled over medium heat, until light brown and toasty-smelling. Remove from heat.

2. Microwave butter in a medium-sized bowel. Add sugars, salt, extracts, and yogurt. Mix well for a minute or so – this helps the butter and sugar get those caramelized notes.

3. Add white flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until incorporated. Add oat flour and coconut, stirring well. Fold in walnuts and chocolate chunks (warning: don’t eat half of these two things because they’re too delicious on their own to make it into the batter).

4. Place dough in plastic wrap or a plastic bag and place in freezer for 30 minutes (if impatient) or refrigerate overnight.

5. Preheat oven to 350F/180C and line baking sheet with baking paper. At this point, dough should be thick but workable, meaning you don’t have to take a hammer to it to break off balls of dough.

6. Mix cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Break off tablespoon-sized pieces of dough and roll into balls (or use a cookie scoop. Yes, you need one. I burned through mine – don’t ask – and am now coveting another for Christmas. Hint hint to my readership, which is 90% my parents).

7. Where were we? Roll those balls into the cinnamon sugar, place 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet, press down a bit if you like them fatter (I prefer to leave them ball-shaped so the centers stay softer). I got about 15-16 because I ate a bunch of dough (oops!)

8. Bake 8-10 minutes, until golden at the edges and almost-golden on top (basically, you don’t want to press down on one and have it completely deflate right away). Let cool on baking sheet. Eat.

The Halloween costume I almost didn’t wear

We skipped celebrating Halloween last year. No, really- we were those people who hid in the bedroom with the lights out, and whenever the doorbell rang, I held my breath until I heard the footsteps fade away. I knew the kids couldn’t hear me breathing anyway, but somehow that abated my guilt.

This year, we resurrected the Halloween party we had two years ago, down to the same costumes. We also invited friends from different social circles (e.g. John’s entire department and my ex-colleagues) who ended up chatting and, I think, enjoying each other’s company. I still remember my friend Robyn praising our 2012 bash, saying she loved how we invited people from various parts of our lives who didn’t know each other, but who all got along. It’s damn hard to make friends when you’re an adult (or maybe it’s just me?) so I like opportunities to throw strangers into a room and see what happens.

We had a really great time, which always surprises me about parties. I don’t really like large gatherings and feel the need to take a nap after talking for more than 10 minutes, but good company and good food put me at ease. Seriously, friends went out of their way, bringing gorgeous caramel apples and chocolate cake and pizza and…the list goes on. I tried to refrain from turning into my alter ego, DJ ADD (if we were at a party together in college, you’ll remember my tendency to change songs after 30 seconds), and let Spotify do the work with a cheesy Halloween playlist. Not even mine. I’ve become lazier about parties, abandoning the obsessive cleaning beforehand (well, to an extent), and even buying a dessert instead of making one from scratch. No one complained.

I was also dreading the party a bit because of the costume factor, even though I love dressing up and putting on layers upon layers of eyeshadow. John and I were zombie Germans two years ago, and again laziness drove the decision to recycle those costumes. But my dirndl is now at least two sizes too small, a result of loosening my iron grip over food intake, not setting foot in a gym for 3 months, and, well, an affinity for dipping chocolate in peanut butter. When you have to pay outrageous prices for Reese’s in this country, you go to extreme measures for your fix.

I try not to let it get to me, because I hate the pressure on women to look and act a certain way and I try not to buy into all of that (anymore). But squeezed into that dirndl, I couldn’t help compare myself to those cumberland sausages I was serving. I was paranoid that buttons were going to pop off. I thought, how was I ever that small? Oddly enough, I didn’t feel small, then. That’s body dysmorphia for you.

Anyway, I put my faith in German craftsmanship and trusted that my top would stay buttoned, and luckily it did. I let insecurities slip into the background as I gave John some smokey eyes and teased my hair into oblivion, and welcomed friends into our teeny tiny apartment (seriously, it was a little like a clown car, but doable). As for next year, I think it’s time to retire the Gretel get-up and wear something that fits, and not feel bad about it.