Chocolate-covered, raspberry-filled coconut shortbread cookies

Raspberry coconut chocolate-covered cookies

Isaac says that the worst thing about turning seven is that you’re all achy when you wake up in the morning. And I said, “just you wait till you’re forty-three and when you drop a pencil it’s not worth bending down to pick it up!” (And then I worried that I was belittling his complaint. And then I worried that he was coming down with something, because a seven-year-old shouldn’t be achy! He seems fine, though.) But I spent some time thinking about it, this morning, sitting on the couch with Clio and not getting anything done. (She’s no help, this puppy! Does she shoo me off the couch and say, “get to work!”? She does not! She makes ridiculously cute little grumbly clucky noises “ooonph, ooonph” and curls up on top of me with a big sigh so I couldn’t get up even if I wanted to!) Ah yes, I was thinking about it this morning, whilst slowly recovering from a busy weekend of I’m-too-old-to-be-a-waitress, especially in shoes that are a size too big. I’ve been feeling very stressy, lately. With stomachaches and headaches and rashes. Of course a big part of the problem is that I stress about the symptoms, I’m too aware of them when they’re there, and not grateful enough to feel better when they’re gone. Something I think about quite a bit is feeling good – a specific moment in time when you feel good and you know it. You walk down the streets of your town feeling sunny and light and happy and comfortable with yourself. You’re not hungry or tired or manic. You’re not worried about anything. The sun is shining, and it feels good to walk in a place that you know and love. It’s not a lot to ask, really – it’s more the absence of discomfort and anxiety than anything else – but it seems like such a precious, elusive feeling. It would be nice to bottle it as an elixir for the next time you have a sniffle, or you shut your finger in a door (that’s me, last night!), or you’ve got worries weighing down your heavy feet. It’s a feeling I associate with youth and springtime, but you can feel it in the winter, too, even when you’re forty-three and you don’t always feel like bending down to pick up a pencil.

I like songs about this sort of moment, and I was listening to one the other day, but I can’t remember what it is! I’ve started a short playlist of the ones I can think of, and I’d appreciate your help in adding to it! Songs about feeling good, in your neighborhood. I’ve stretched the rubric a little for some of these, but the nice thing is, listening to these songs makes you feel good!

I had a meeting with a client who asked me to make a dessert for a dinner party. (Okay, so the client was my mother and the meeting was a glass of wine in the afternoon! Before pick-up at the school! Shocking!) The party was a wine-tasting featuring Argentine wines, and the maternal client requested a dessert with coconut, raspberry and dark chocolate. So I decided to make a version of Argentine-style alfajores. These little cakes are made with a subtly-flavored coconut shortbread, sandwiched together with raspberry jam, and coated in bittersweet chocolate. They also reminded me of the empire biscuits that my scottish mother-in-law makes. I think they would make a nice sweet for a holiday party, because they’re portable – you can stuff a few in your pockets and wander from conversation-to-conversation, fully stocked!!

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Lemon pine nut chocolate-covered cookies

Pine nut cookies

My ex-sister-in-law used to talk about totem animals. I’m not sure precisely what she meant, (I’m simple!) but to me it’s always meant the animal that you’d be, if you could be an animal. If your spirit could leave your body (at night, say, in your dreams) and slip into a body that felt more comfortable, what body would that be? For me, it’s always been an otter. They used to live around here, but they were hunted out of existence in this area. It makes me sad that you can only see them in zoos, but when we do visit zoos, I find the otters mesmerizing. I saw this video yesterday, and I can’t stop watching it! I think I’m losing it! I’m not a person who LOLs and posts cute things. But this video kills me. I love Nellie’s ridiculously beautiful otter belly, and the sound the cups make when she hits them against it. I love her speaking face and paws – every expression and gesture is so perfect. I love how slick and cool she is. I love her otter friend, who’s just kicking back, happy to be with her. I feel bad for her that she’s in a zoo, and that she’s performing for fish. But I love how she looks at the zookeeper, when she’s given the cups in the wrong order, with a sweet look that seems to say, “There’s no fish in here, and you got the order all wrong. Sheesh.” I love that when she holds her friend’s paws, which she’s told to do, she half-closes her eyes.

What’s your totem animal?

Holy Smoke, I’m waaaaaaaay behind on telling you about recipes. I’ll never catch up! I won’t make it to everything. Some recipes will get left behind. These were nice, though, so I’ll tell you about them. I wanted do make a sort of shortbread cookie with pine nuts. I realized that I always think of pine nuts in a savory setting, but they have such a smoky sweetness that I thought they’d be nice in a cookie. And they were! I could have probably left it at that, but I felt that they’d be good with a touch of lemon zest. And everything’s better with a coating of bittersweet chocolate, right?

Here’s Jean Redpath with Song of the Seals

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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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Hazelnut/raspberry/dark chocolate bar cookies

Hazelnut/raspberry/dark chocolate!

Oh, the tasty trinity of deliciousity that is hazelnuts, raspberries, and dark chocolate! I’ve combined it here in the easiest way possible…a soft hazelnut shortbread, covered with a layer of raspberry jam, and coated with dark chocolate. I think bar cookies are the simplest to make, because you don’t have to fiddle with each individual cookie, and they’re nice because you get the full effect of each individual flavor in each bite. A good cookie to make when you realize it’s December 21st and you haven’t made batches and batches of cookies, yet. I used seedless raspberry jam, but you could use any kind of jam you like. Apricot, strawberry, blackberry – even marmalade! All would taste good here. And I baked mine in a 8 X 12 inch brownie pan, but you could use something larger, or even a baking sheet, if you want your shortbread layer to be thinner. And you can omit the egg and add more flour if you want it to be crispier.
Here’s Fats Waller with Black Raspberry Jam
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