‘Tis the season for delicious treats and love, both of which are shared by these authors’ Happy Holidays.
Mia Tempts the Chocolate Lovers
Here’s my holiday recipe – perfect for a cookie exchange, late night snack in front of a crackling fire, or to accompany eggnog or a hot cup of cocoa as you curl up with your favorite novel …
Chocolate Cherry Crackle Cookies
From: GOOD THINGS (Berkley Books, February 2007)
One of Deidre’s confections that won the hearts – and appetites – of chocoholic locals and tourists alike!
Yields: 2 dozen
* 1½ cups sugar
* ½ cup prunes, puréed with 3 tablespoons of water
* ½ cup nonfat yogurt
* ¼ cup canola oil
* 2 egg whites
* ½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
* ½ cup dried cherries, chopped
* 1½ cups cake flour
* 1 cup cocoa powder
* ½ teaspoon salt
* ½ teaspoon baking soda
* 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, prune purée, yogurt, oil, egg whites, espresso powder, and cherries (the liquid mixture).
3. Sift the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda together in another bowl (the flour mixture).
4. Slowly stir the flour mixture in the liquid mixture until blended well.
5. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
6. Roll the chilled dough with your hands into balls the size of ping pong balls. Roll in powdered sugar and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until firm.
Mia King (Good Things, Sweet Life, Table Manners)
Eileen’s Best Christmas Gift, Ever
The year after I graduated from college I had taken a job I hated and lived in a town I hated even more. I had moved for the job and hadn’t made very many friends in town. I earned very little money and as a result rarely went out. My apartment practically squatted on top of a railway line which meant several times a day it shook as if it was a ten point earthquake while the train rushed by. Life was not turning out how I expected. My boyfriend had taken a job across the country in Boston and with my family and friends far away I was alone. I was speaking to my boyfriend on the phone one night and told him that it didn’t even feel like Christmas. I didn’t have a tree and the string of Christmas lights I had put in my hanging fern plant wasn’t cutting it in terms of putting me in the holiday spirit. My job gave me only Christmas Day off which meant I would have only one day at home with my family. It was almost not even worth going. I might as well just stay home and pretend there was no Christmas. I was very bah-humbug.
The next day when I came home from work (grumbling very Scrooge like the whole way) there was a florist van parked outside my apartment building. The driver got out and confessed that he was the owner of the florist shop and hadn’t made a delivery himself in decades. This was one delivery that he wanted to make himself. He opened the door and pulled out a HUGE Christmas tree, it must have been six feet tall. The tree had long lush needles that felt almost soft to the touch. The florist also pulled out a box. Between the two of us we dragged the tree upstairs. The box held a stand, several boxes of lights and a few bags of Christmas balls and ornaments. There was box from a local bakery full of Christmas cookies and treats. My boyfriend had arranged the whole thing.
After the florist left I put some Christmas music on the stereo and decorated the tree. The entire apartment was full of the fresh pine scent, it crept into the closets, between the blankets and wafted up to the ceiling. Just like the Grinch, my too small heart grew several sizes right then and there. I knew in that moment that I would marry this boyfriend (and I was right!) I knew there would be hard times, but that when you have someone who cares for you, then everything somehow will work out. It wasn’t that he sent the tree, it was that he had the idea at all.