Life is really crazy right now, friends. I honestly can’t quite keep up. There’s holiday hustle, and major, major work bustle, and there are current events and insanity and life, really. It just is crazy.
But in the midst of so much action, so much feeling, so much, I keep having these moments where my breath catches in my throat and I almost suffocate from the enormity of the sense that I am so blessed. So, so blessed. These stresses and worries are privileges, each a reminder.
The packages to be mailed, the gifts to be made, the notes to be sent show that I have people I love and who love me, wonderful, meaningful relationships to attend to.
The work to be done, the daunting decisions to be made, the worried conversations about scenario after scenario at all hours of the day mean that we have work, we are taking risks, we’re in a position to take risks, we have each other to talk to about it, and so much enthusiastic support from others that it’s almost absurd.
The emotions, oh the emotions, the tears of sadness and fury at the state of the world remind me that I care, that I’m able to care, and that I don’t have to be complacent.
We stole time this weekend to attend a St. Lucia celebration and a Hannukkah dinner, two little holidays from very different traditions, both celebrating the fundamental human need we have to seek, and when necessary to create, light in the midst of deep darkness. It’s a noble pursuit. Perhaps the noblest.
To be present, to quiet our minds while putting our hands to work, we turned to some Christmas baking last night as well. The end of dinner saw the start of cookie sheet after cookie sheet go into the oven in well-timed rhythm. A cloud of spicy fragrance, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves filled the air. We were warm, and cozy,and we were there.
All of the baking last night I actually did for my father. I figure, just because a person cannot eat any grains, dairy, or legumes, should not mean that a person should be forced to go without Christmas cookies. So, I did some focused research and came up with a list of cookies I could make for him that wouldn’t have an aftertaste of deprivation.
I made coconut macaroons, almond butter cookies, these grahams but with the cinnamon removed and a tablespoon of finely ground coffee and a teaspoon of cardamom added to make them Turkish coffee flavored, plus these soft spice cookies. I’m an absolute sucker for spicy molasses cookies, and I was quite happy with how these turned out. They’re on the soft crumbly side, like little pillows of gingerbread cake, rather than crisp, and they have all the complex flavors and intensity of molasses that I could wish for. I hope my dad likes them just as much!
I wish you all peace and many blessings during this season. And cookies. I wish cookies for you as well, friends.
Molasses Spice Cookies (grain and refined sugar free, makes about 2 -dozen) (adapted from here)
- 1 1/3 cup packed pitted dates (double check to make sure all of the pits are removed!)
- 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. coconut oil (you can also use butter or ghee), at room temp.
- 2 large eggs, at room temp.
- 1 Tbs. unsulphured molasses
- 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs. almonds or pecans (or 1/2 cup almond flour)
- 2 Tbs. coconut flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- a pinch of ground nutmeg
- Put your dates in a bowl and cover them with hot water. Allow them to sit for an hour to soften them, then drain them.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Put your nuts and the coconut flour into a food processor. Pulse them together until the nuts are finely ground to a texture a bit coarser than flour (don’t grind too far or you may find yourself with a food processor full of nut butter; if you don’t grind quite enough your cookies will have a nubbly texture). Transfer this flour to a bowl. (You can skip this processing step if you’re using almond flour.) Whisk in the salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
- Put the soaked dates into the food processor along with the eggs, molasses, and coconut oil. Process these ingredients together until they’ve turned into a smooth paste. (You’ll likely have to stop and scrape everything down off the sides and top of the food processor a couple of times.)
- Next, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the processor and pulse until everything is combined (again, you may have to stop and scrape down the sides a time or two).
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking sheet liners. Spoon the dough in heaped tablespoon sized scoops onto the baking sheet leaving a generous inch between each.
- Bake the cookies one sheet at a time in the oven (rotating the pan halfway through to ensure even baking) until the cookies are puffy and darkened around the edges, 8-10 minutes.
- Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets, then use a spatula to remove them from the baking sheets to a tray or cookie tin. They’ll be soft, so if you layer them, you’ll probably want to put parchment or wax paper between the layers.
- These cookies will keep for a couple days at room temperature, but if you’re storing them for any longer, I’d recommend freezing them. I’ve read in several places, and it is also my experience that baked goods with coconut flour in them store better frozen. Plus, frozen cookies taste delicious! (Especially, ahem, if you sandwich some vanilla ice cream between them, though I bet some coconut whipped cream with lemon zest would be equally as tasty.)