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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Chocolate covered cherry cookies

Chocolate covered cherry cookies

We don’t go out to dinner very often, because I enjoy cooking dinner so much, and because we’re poor as church mice. (Not really, but I like that phrase. I can just see the church mice. Why are they poorer than other mice? Why?) But we went out the other night (thanks mom and dad!) for our anniversary. I think I enjoy going out to dinner more because we don’t do it very often. I love the space that we make sitting across from each other at a table. A little private pocket in a room filled with other people. I love the conversations we have when we go out to dinner, which always feel a little different from conversations we have any where else. We went to Sprig and Vine, a vegan restaurant, which I would recommend to anyone, be they vegan, be they meat-eaters, be they whatever. We ate fiddleheads and ramps and baby artichokes and castelvetrano olives. Yum. Then we came home and put the boys to bed and sat in the backyard by a fire, eating these cookies. Which is just what I’d hoped we’d do! I’ve told the story before of our courting days and my ingeniousness with wrapping chocolate ice cream around cherry ice cream. Well, ever since those days, I seem to be stuck in a rut with the cherries and the chocolate around valentines day and anniversaries. But they’re so perfect together! In any form! Such a perfect pairing. These particular cookies take a little while to put together, they’re a labor of love, which is exactly what I wanted them to be. They’re fun to make, though, and not difficult. You make a shortbread-type cookie. You roll it out and cut it into rounds. You cup a round of dough in your palm. You put a spoonful of good cherry jam in the center. You fold the edges up and seal them. You bake the cookies, and then you dip them in melted bittersweet chocolate. Good, messy, fun and delicious!

Here’s Soul Food by Goodie Mob because everyone in town is out at the restaurants, and they say “looking to be one of those days when mama ain’t cooking.” I love this song so much in every way.
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Meyer lemon, rosemary, black pepper mousse & chocolate-dipped ginger shortbread

Meyer lemon mousse & ginger shortbread cookie

When I was 12 or 13, my friend and I made dinner for our parents. The whole meal – cordials, a main course, dessert. Our parents gave us complete freedom in the kitchen, and bravely agreed to eat whatever we set in front of them. I think I had just stopped eating meat at the time, but apparently I wasn’t averse to cooking it for others, because we boiled a whole chicken with copious amounts of dried thyme. (The smell of dried thyme still makes me think of that day!) We boiled a whole chicken! I can’t claim to know how to cook chicken, to be honest, but that just doesn’t sound right! We made little cordials with (our parents’) brandy and crushed blackberries. I’d drink that in real life! And for dessert we combined whipped cream, lemon juice and sugar, and then we froze it. That’s right, we made lemon ice cream. I made a meyer lemon mousse, yesterday, and the whole process reminded me of that day.

I like anything that combines lemon and cream. It’s such an unlikely combination – surely the cream should curdle! But no, it’s like magic! It all stays together, and the tartness of the lemon is such a nice contrast to the, um, the creaminess of the cream. As you may recall, I was very excited the other day to have discovered a method of making non-chocolate mousse without gelatin. The secret was pastry cream, my new best friend – so satisfying to make, so fail-proof, so thick and creamy when it’s done. Is this really the same substance that I found kinda gross in cream donuts all these years? Could it be? I infused the pastry cream with a couple of rosemary branches…I think I may have been inspired by a recipe for rosemary apple ice cream that Liz kindly left in the comments! And I added black pepper, for a little kick. I’ve made bread with rosemary, lemon and black pepper, and I like the fact that all three ingredients comfortably straddle the sweet/savory divide. They’ve taken a little leap over to the sweet side, in this dish! The rosemary is quite subtle, because I didn’t leave any actual bits of rosemary in. Maybe next time! And now we’re wondering, here at the test kitchens of The Ordinary, when a mousse is actually a mousse. This was thick, it was creamy, it was light, and it was delicious. It wasn’t exactly frothy or airy, though. Need it be, to be a mousse? Is it a pudding? A custard? Questions to be set before the creamy dessert division of The Ordinary.

Lemon syrup

The cookies are thin, crispy ginger shortbread rounds, coated in bittersweet chocolate. I made a ginger shortbread crust for a tart the other day, and I’ve been determined to try it in cookie form ever since. Very nice dipped in coffee, very nice dipped in meyer lemon mousse!

Here’s Gene Krupa with Lemon Drop
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