chocolate

"Search" by Hester Knibbe + Einkorn Oatmeal Cookies

Einkorn Chocolate Oat Cookies

Can you think of a scenario when cookies do not provide comfort? I cannot.

Cookies are simple yet complex, nuanced with echoes of vanilla or spice. They are tender and chewy, yet firm around the edges. They can be singular. One can make us whole again. If one cookie is not enough, there are others. It's how they are made.

Cookies have also changed. While my heart still holds true to the classic chocolate chip variety, my baking has shifted over the years, incorporating more whole grain flours, healthier fats, and less sugar, so naturally the variety of cookies I consume has changed as well. And not only me. As a nation, as a family, as food bloggers, there has been a collective awakening about food in recent years that I've enjoyed being part of. 

Especially around this time of year, we're looking for foods to be more wholesome. It doesn't mean we don't indulge now and again, but there are solid alternatives when a craving strikes. Like these cookies from Tim and Shanna's debut, The Einkorn Flour Cookbook

Our entire relationship was made possible by the internet, I should note. I reluctantly joined Twitter when a friend (the same friend who encouraged me to start blogging) said at the very least I should create an account and claim my name before someone else does. Fair enough. That was February 2010. In the months that followed I, also reluctantly, began sharing posts and replying to tweets of bloggers I admired. Over a long period of time (we're talking years, not days or weeks), I even became friends with some of them.

That's how many of us food bloggers got to know each other at first. It was an easy way to have a short conversation or say hello without screaming "be friends with me!" in an obnoxious fan kind of way. Shanna was one of those people. Tweets turned to reading each other's blogs. Reading turned to emails. Emails turned to one crisp afternoon in Chicago when we finally met face to face (along with her husband Tim, Erin, and Alex and Sonja, too!). So now we're real life friends, which is the best. I love that about the food blog community.

So you can imagine my delight when this cookbook arrived at my door. And after I'd read through it, made my notes, and ordered a bag of einkorn flour, I settled on cookies. And when I took a bite, standing alone in the kitchen gazing out at the trees beyond my kitchen window, I sensed a poem should be found and the search began. It's title then, is entirely appropriate. 


Search

BY HESTER KNIBBE

TRANSLATED BY JACQUELYN POPE

Wandered tonight through a city
as ruined as a body with broken
ribs and a bared heart. Looked for you 

there with cookies in my pocket, searched 
for a sigh, for movement in demolished 
streets and alleys. Tonight

since I’d forgotten for a moment where you are,
I searched for you with hope in my bones.
But no matter how I lured you with my voice
and my eyes, walls of debris 

grew up steadily around you, cellars seemed
to creep around you. I remained alone
with those cookies in my pocket
and kept calling and walking.

Source: Poetry (May 2010).


Einkorn Chocolate Oat Cookies

In this poem we return to comfort. The cookies in the speaker's pocket are desperately needed on a cold night when she is wandering through a ruined city. A war? An earthquake? A relationship broken into pieces? We might never know, but the cookies are symbolic enough to trigger memories in each of us. Whether we're sitting around our childhood table dunking cookies in milk, smearing rounds with ice cream, breaking a off a warm piece to share with our spouse, or walking around a deserted city with crumbs in our pockets, cookies lead us home.

Einkorn Chocolate Oat Cookies

GRANDMA'S OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Einkorn was new to me until Tim and Shanna introduced it on their blog Food Loves Writing. Although I don't have gluten sensitivities, I do appreciate having a variety of flours to call on in my baking. 

These cookies bake up thin, crisp on the outside where the edges turn a bit golden, and tender in the middle. The hint of coconut reminds me faintly of one of my favorite girl scout cookies, Samosas, but far more healthful. The chocolate adds a nice decadence, too. 

Recipe slightly adapted from Tim and Shanna Mallon, The Einkorn Cookbook

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
1 cup cane sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose einkorn flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat. In a large bowl, use a wooden spoon to sir together all ingredients except the oats and chocolate, until well mixed. Finally, add the oats and chocolate and stir until just combined.

Drop dough by the spoonful onto prepared baking sheets, leaving at least an inch between cookies (they will spread). Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through, until firm and golden.

Makes 20 cookies

Something to manage our hungers

Flourless Chocolate Cake

7:14 am. I rolled out of bed, guzzled a cup of water, and started separating eggs. It was almost too early for the oven to be on, but Halloween beckoned and my office was having a little afternoon party, so I thought chocolate. And cake. And simplicity, because I had gone to yoga the night before and went to bed instead of back into the kitchen. 

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Flourless Chocolate Cake

So the eggs were cracked. Whites were whipped, chocolate and butter was melted, sugar was whisked, and soft peaks were formed and folded into a deeply rich batter destined for a warm oven. Thirty-five minutes later, out came a puffed cake with just enough time to cool before dusting it with a thick layer of powdered sugar and packaging it into a carrying case. 

I'm grateful for a cake like this. We all need one that's nothing fancy, yet beautifully tender and satisfying. Something to manage our hungers.


Don't hold back now, have
chocolate, throw extra

kindling on, even though
skies urge cover & hoarding.
When mice pitter in

for crumbs, compliment
their small feet and fitting
ways. When your mouth

houses a curse, swallow,
think how you once
had no words at all

yet managed
your hungers.

-from The Hard Season by Kathleen Lynch


Flourless Chocolate Cake
Flourless Chocolate Cake

(For the recipe, visit Food 52.)

"It is not Thanksgiving" by Melanie Harless + Chocolate Chess Pie

chocolate chess pie5.jpg

During the second half of my college career, I worked for my university's Orientation Program, helping new students and their parents navigate the world of academic requirements, signing up for courses, and leading campus tours. It was one of the best jobs I've ever had. Although I spent a majority of my time working with students and giving academic requirement presentations, another portion of my role (and the part I secretly loved most) was spent reassuring parents that their fledgling freshmen would be fine. Better than fine, in fact.

They would ask about parties, about campus clubs, about safety, about living in the dorms. But what they were really asking was if their relationship would hold steady. They wanted to know their sons and daughters wouldn't be lost forever. I often shared stories about how my own relationship with my parents changed since arriving, and when a look over concern washed over their face during the parents-only cocktail hour, I always told them the same thing: Trust the job you've done.

The college years are a time when everything changes. Not only do relationships with old friends fade away as you navigate the waters with new ones, but the relationship with your parents changes, too. It's a very good thing when this happens, but the transition takes time. The shift from becoming a parent to becoming a friend is not always swift, and this is the narrative we enter when reading today's poem. 


It is not Thanksgiving

by Melanie Harless

She is coming home.
I’ll make her favorite foods,
turkey croquettes,
hash brown casserole,
homemade rolls, and
two chocolate pies,
an extra for the next day.
Croquettes are for leftover turkey
but it is not Thanksgiving,
so there are no leftovers.
Hard to find fresh turkey in July
but I buy a breast to cook
so that I have turkey to grind
and shape into little balls.
With flour on my clothes
and on my nose,
I set the rolls
on the counter to rise.
I assemble the casserole
to be oven ready.
It is a hot day
for stirring chocolate
at the stove, but soon
it will be thick and bubbly
ready to fill the waiting crusts.
Her flight gets in at five
I will finish the meal
after I pick her up.
It is not Thanksgiving
but time to give thanks.
My daughter is coming home.

Poem printed with permission from the author. Find a sampling of Melanie's nonfiction here and here


The first summer home from college is usually a challenging one. There are mixed emotions brought on by the pull to spend time with family yet also appear independent, and the desire to reconnect with high school friends amidst fears we've already changed too much to keep our relationships in tact through graduation. (Or maybe that was just me.)

But it is July, clearly not the ideal time to be basting a turkey, but a mother is preparing a feast anyway. The details are touching. We vividly see her rushing from counter to stove, stirring chocolate and setting rolls on the counter to rise. The imagery serves as a great reminder that although Thanksgiving only occurs once per year, every day is an opportunity to be thankful and reflect on what we're grateful for. In this case, a daughter's homecoming. In the spirit of the season, and with Christmas and New Year's around the corner, I hope you'll do what the mother in this poem does, and celebrate with your favorite foods, surrounded by those you love.


CHOCOLATE CHESS PIE

I've always been hesitant to make pie dough. Work quickly! Be sure your water is ice cold! Chill the flour! Use your hands! Use a food processor! It's enough to make a reluctant baker nervous and pale. But then I sat down and read and reread Deb's instructions over at Smitten Kitchen. I felt my confidence boost, and this time around, my dough was soft and supple, translucent with butter. I have a feeling this might become more of a habit.

Adapted from Add a Pinch

1 1/4 granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust (for crust, see Smitten Kitchen's all-butter recipe, and her tips for rolling out the dough)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the sugar and cocoa to the bowl of a KitchenAid mixer and whisk on low speed to combine. Pour melted butter into the bowl and beat on high speed. Lightly beat the eggs, then add them, along with the vanilla, and mix on high speed for 2-3 minutes until the filling is whipped and has lightened in color (it will also double in size). 

Pour the filling into your pie shell and bake for 35-40 minutes. The pie is done when the center is a bit soft (it will continue to set as it cools). Let sit on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before serving.