For the past twenty years at Christmas time, my neighbor has hosted a cookie exchange
It's beautiful in every way
A hand-written invitation dropped in our mailboxes, less and less words penned to the page each year; no explanation needed, after such a long time.
“Cookie Exchange .. Hope to see you there!”
If you asked me what I'd ever brought or come home with, I wouldn't be able to tell you. It's never about the cookies; the sweet somethings serving as an excuse to purpose a connection with each other, because at the end of the day, isn't that what life is really about?
Looking back to my first exchange; I was young, with two little ones, working on my math degree, and just getting going in our first house
500 lifetimes ago, it seems
From year to year, the majority of the women who come are the same, made more beautiful, in my opinion, with a few extra wrinkles and grey hairs. Many of us have moved away and come back, always picking up right where we left off
This Christmas, a SOLD sign hangs in the yard I once called mine and memories are being made in a different neighborhood. In my spirit lives a strange space of miss, along that of adventure and new beginnings.
So this year, the exchange wasn't my familiar, but one that was new
A couple of different cookies graced our kitchen counters, one being ginger cookies, adapted from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day.
More grown-up than the usual cookie, they're incredibly moist; taking much of their sweetness and chewiness from the dried apricots, while at the same time balanced with shavings of dark chocolate, along with generous amounts of spicy ginger
Finished with a coating of large crystal raw sugar, they pack a ton of flavor into a few small bites. They were wonderful on this chilly Iowa evening.
A little piece of heaven, whether you're sharing with new friends, or those who've known you through your many lifetimes, and still love you anyway
ps: For those who follow The Veggies, this recipe was originally posted in December of 2013. Since then, I've made them more times than I can count and thought a few updated pictures were in order. They're fantastic!
pps: The secret to a really good cookie? Let the dough rest 72 hours before baking your cookies
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~ Adapted from Supernatural Everyday | Heidi Swanson
Ginger Cookies with Apricots and Chocolate
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry (or spelt) flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ Tbsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp fine-grain sea salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into small(ish) cubes
- ¼ cup molasses (choose one that's rich, densely flavored, and most important it should taste good to you)
- ½ cup natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado)
- 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 large egg, well beaten
- 1 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
- 6-7 oz chocolate, chopped into small shavings (I really like bittersweet in these)
- ⅔ cup natural sugar, for rolling the cookie dough in
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, and salt.
- Heat the butter in a saucepan until it is just barely melted. Stir in the molasses, sugar, and fresh ginger (At this point, the mix should be warm, but not hot)
- Whisk in the egg. (If it's hot to the touch, let it cool a bit before whisking in the egg)
- Pour this mixture over the flour blend and stir to combine.
- Add the chopped apricots and chocolate shavings; stir until just combined.
- Chill for ~30 minutes (long enough to let the dough firm up slightly)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add the sugar to a bowl
- Scoop out the dough (I make mine with 1-2 Tbsp worth of dough). Roll each piece into a ball and then roll the dough in the bowl of large-grain sugar to coat the outside.
- Place the cookies a few inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
- Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until cookies puff up, darken a bit, are fragrant, and crack. (If you’re not sure, peek at the bottom of one; it should be deeply golden)