Coconut cherry chocolate bar cookies

Coconut, cherry, chocolate bar cookies

Coconut, cherry, chocolate bar cookies

Happy boxing day!! We’re having such a nice, slow day, surrounded by the chaos of Christmas presents and Christmas wrappings and new toys to play with and things to build (if you’re a boy) or chew to pieces (if you’re Clio). We gave the boys a few noisy toys, which they played with for hours (starting before I was out of bed, of course!). And then, at one point, a hush fell on the room. Malcolm was on the couch reading a new book, cuddled with Clio. I used to love to get books for Christmas. I can vividly remember the keen pleasure of opening a new Tintin, or Joan Aiken, or book about horses. I’d be wearing new Christmas pjs, maybe, holding a new stuffed animal, sitting by the fire, absorbed in this new world. It’s hard to capture that feeling again when you’re an adult, which is why David’s present was perfect in every way. He gave me some beautiful new dishes (one is pictured above), some blank books with little drawings from the dishesdrawing AND a Tintin book!! It’s all about how Tintin is drawn, and has little quizzes to test your Tintin knowledge. I love it!! I feel as excited as a child! As giddy as a schoolboy! And the best part is that I also feel inspired, by blank books and blank dishes. Oh the things I’ll cook to present on the dishes, and the nonsense I’ll write to fill up the books! The books I used to get for Christmas excited me because they contained vast, unknown worlds, and it was such a pleasure to watch them unfold. Of course we all have those worlds in our heads, strange and new – all of us do, and they can all come pouring out onto these blank lines. blank-paper

These cookies were very easy to make, and they seem quite fancy, cause of the chocolate and cherry combination, which always tastes like a celebration. Basically, they’re a coconut shortbread covered with a thin layer of cherry preserves, and topped with a chocolate ganache. Like a version of millionaire’s shortbread, I guess! I put a bit of sherry into the shortbread to make them taste extra Christmassy.

I know I’ve been posting a lot of Jimmy Smith, lately, but he’s just killing me! His songs are so warm, and pleasing, but completely unexpected in parts, till he brings it all home again. Here’s We Three Kings. I love how grand and big band-y it is, before it breaks into this ridiculously joyous and swinging tune.

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Quadruple vanilla ice cream with cherry-chocolate swirl

Quadruple vanilla ice cream

“And cherry jam? They have it here. You remember how you used to love cherry jam when you were little?”

“You remember that? Let me have jam, too. I still like it.”

Ivan called the waiter and ordered soup, jam, and tea.”

“I remember everything, Alyosha…”

Thus begins what must be one of the most remarkable conversations in literature. It goes on for pages. It goes on for chapters. It has acts like a play, movements like a symphony. And it all starts with the jam. I’m always moved by the intersection of food, memory, and comfort or kindness. The fact that it’s Ivan who remembers just kills me. He’s dark, doubting, cynical almost to the point of cruelty. You relate to him, certainly. He says the things you’re thinking (but more articulately!) or the things you try not to think because they’re too dark and hopeless. But you don’t love him – not until this moment. Everybody loves Alyosha, but I loved him more for still liking cherry jam, and for agreeing to order it. And because of the cherry jam we know that Ivan – cold, distant, disagreeable Ivan – loves Alyosha and always has. And for the first time, Alyosha know it too.

I like cherry jam, too. I like to bake it into cakes and cookies. And in this case, I put it in ice cream. I’m somewhat obsessed with vanilla. I literally dream about it. It’s not boring, or dull, or plain! It’s not white! For some time I’ve been dreaming of an intensely vanilla flavored ice cream. Really smooth and creamy and ridiculously vanilla-y. I got a few gift certificates for my birthday, to various places, and I bought vanilla powder, vanilla paste, and a vanilla bean. Oh yes! I decided to combine these with vanilla essence to make ice cream. If you don’t have any or all of these things, you could use extra vanilla essence. I also used brown sugar, because I didn’t want the ice cream to be white, and because I think the caramelly taste is nice with vanilla. I added a whole teaspoon of salt, to intensify the flavor. And, in honor of Alyosha, I melted some bittersweet chocolate with some cherry jam, and I drizzled it into the ice cream as it was freezing. It semi-hardened, creating lovely pockets of flavor and texture.

Here’s Drink Me with Song of the Ice Cream Truck.
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