December has been filled with both utter joy and intense sadness: in Connecticut and here at home, family members gravely sick, a beloved cat dying, and now, the news just an hour ago that our neighbor who was like family member passed away suddenly last night. We will so miss you and your kindness and brilliance Bobby B. We’re trying to prepare for festivity and grappling with the mix of emotions, finding solace in, coming back to as a touchstone, the kitchen. Here we make tangible edible gifts; feeding each other.
I feel immensely blessed to keep receiving gifts and gestures of love from my students and friends: cards, cookies, candy, scarves, dog toys (tons- yay!) donations to his vet care, cash rolled up and tied with red ribbon, books, note cards, handmade potholders and pillows in lemon-bag gift bags, tarragon vinegar, candles and paper whites. I started a gratitude journal several weeks ago and am so appreciating the perspective it cultivates. THIS is what the season is all about, isn’t it?
And there is beauty in all weather, in ice storms and dazzling sunlight alike, and sweetness in lunches with friends who wallpaper their bathrooms in Tintin comic book pages and whose homes are darling collections of art, curios and nooks and crannies holding bits of needlepoint and collected nature. I had my first official doggie play date this week (that’s how we do it here in New England) and Stella and Scabby El Guapo are going to be friends for life.
For the past week my table has been strewn with Dagoba chocolate, muscovado sugar, oats, spelt and rye flours, nut flours, yellowing newspaper clipped recipes and other bits and bobs cobbled together to go into the oven and fill the house with intoxicating heated jam and vanilla aromas. I want to eat sweet delicious cookies this time of year but I want them to be as healthy as possible. Here are two favorite recipes for cookies you would never know have no flour, no refined sugar and only a bit of coconut oil and grass fed butter to elevate them to a decadent status.
Sesame Almond Cookies
1 1/4 cups blanched almond flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup smooth almond butter (or chunky, or tahini)
1 tablespoon butter (or melted coconut oil or a mixture of both)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine almond flour, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bowl and stir. In another bowl, combine honey, almond butter, butter, vanilla and almond extract. Stir until mixed. Combine wet and dry mixtures and stir to mix well. Form the dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in the sesame seeds. Place on a pan lined with parchment paper and flatten with your fingers. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the cookies are lightly golden brown. They will puff up slightly and fall as they cool. Cool on the pan for a few minutes, until firm, and transfer to a baking rack.
These are delicious with a nice crisp edge, but a chewy center. The sesame seeds add a nice crunch.
Almond Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
- 2 ½ cups of almond meal (regular or blanched, or make your own in a food processor)
- ½ cup of softened butter (preferably grass-fed) (or use melted coconut oil or mixture of butter and oil)
- ¾ cup of coconut sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Fruit-sweetened jam of choice (I used raspberry but you could use any you like)
Preheat the oven to 400°F and cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Place all ingredients in a stand mixer (or mix by hand but it’s easier with a mixer or food processor) and combine to form a dough.
Gently roll dough into walnut-sized balls and place on the cookie sheets at least two inches apart. Make a “thumbprint” in the middle of the cookie and fill with about ½ – 1 teaspoon of jam.
Cook in the top half of your oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the sides of the cookies are starting to brown. Take out of the oven and let rest for about 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely before serving.