Tag Archives: Cooking

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 Second Christmas Day

For a country that purportedly prides itself on not being very religious, England is all about Christmas. Not as much as Germany – which has Heiligabend (Christmas Eve), Weihnachtstag (Christmas Day) and Zweiter Weihnachtstag (the second Christmas day), but close enough. I mean, they started decorating after Halloween. Somehow, I managed to avoid the usual holiday stress of getting exactly the right gifts and having exactly the right plans, and had a really nice time.

Today is Boxing Day, which (much to my disappointment) is not rooted in boxing the crowds at the mall to return all those gifts you didn’t like. Wikipedia, source of all knowledge, says:

Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas box”, from their bosses[1] or employers. Today, Boxing Day is the bank holiday that generally takes place on 26 December. It is observed in the United KingdomCanadaHong KongAustraliaNew ZealandSouth AfricaTrinidad and Tobago and some other Commonwealth nations. [Source]

 

I’m not disappointed that I didn’t get a Christmas box from bChannels. I’d much rather have a day off, to lounge around in my pajamas until 3 pm (not that I’m speaking from experience…), bake gluten-free banana bread, make tikka masala for dinner (this is the best recipe ever, but today I’m using pork instead of chicken), and finally go for a run after 9 long, mostly-bedridden, flu-filled days. Being sick is the worst.

Anyway, it was a very nice Christmas. John got me a gift card to a department store that sells Mac and Urban Decay makeup, which is wonderful because I love that stuff but am too stingy to buy it for myself. I got him some double-chocolate digestives and chocolate (no, really, it’s for him…not me) and finally, a reasonable-sized mug for coffee-guzzling. Because that’s what we do in this house.

I also got us tickets to see Cats tomorrow in centre city Oxford. I’m sure Icarus and Zora will appreciate us badly belting out showtunes and making them dance around in a reenactment after the fact. But, they’ll be spared (for the most part), because just a few hours after the show, we’re hopping on the red-eye bus for the 3-hour journey to the Stansted airport. 

Then it’s off to Germany for a few days. Can’t wait!

Homebody

I never liked the word “homebody.” It sounds like one of those words we make up to make ourselves sound trendier or more innovative than we are. Like “staycation”– people have stayed home for eons, but now it’s something to plan and do to make us forget we don’t have the money to go on a real vacation. 

Yet, it’s the word that came to mind as I was walking down to the Co-op a few minutes ago, on my way to buy some Cumberland sausages for dinner. If you’re curious: Roseval potatoes, boiled and then stir-fried in some bacon fat, tossed with a mango chutney-lime-honey mustard dressing, in a green salad with some more of that dressing. On the side, cumberland sausages and pan-fried turkey escalopes because I love leftovers. And I’ll have a mug of smoked paprika rutabaga (swede) cream soup on the side. Side Note: it’s worth bookmarking that potato link above. Only in England would there be a website (and Twitter account?) devoted to the humble potato.

We ventured out to a friend’s housewarming party last night and while it was fun, I couldn’t stop thinking about the 3-inch memory foam mattress topper that arrived via Amazon that morning, and fantasizing about the good night’s sleep ahead. On weeknights and increasingly weekends, too, there’s often nothing I want more than to throw on my sweatpants, cozy up with a gigantic mug of tea (this one, lately), and serial-watch House or Dexter.

So I’m not using the word “homebody” to make myself sound cooler than I am, or to apologize that I’m allergic to socializing because I’m a homebody, you see, and we homebodies just don’t do well with too much noise or excitement.

I’m using it because there just isn’t a better descriptor for wanting to stay home with my husband and cats most of the time.

People like me will also use phrases like “I’m getting too old for that,” and I want to avoid that because it sounds like an apology. It’s okay to enjoy some solitude, and I wonder how much of “homebodying” is actually about being more comfortable with ourselves, and by ourselves, as we grow up. I would have said “as we grow beyond the awkward years,” though I have a suspicion they’re all a little awkward, whether we’re in our mid-twenties or thirties or the mid-life crisis and beyond. 

My point is, I used to dread being alone or staying in, and now I don’t. How about you?

 

P.S. I finally looked at my wedding photos this weekend, and threw a bunch on Shutterfly if anyone wants to hang a poster-sized print of us kissing on their walls: https://johnandcleagotmarried.shutterfly.com 

Image