Greetings from my home-away-from-home (i.e., my sister's house in the Bay Area). My return is hardly a day old, but already marked by familiar frustrations--namely, strings of foiled meet-ups with the very loved ones who serially request visits but usually renege on our plans--that will undoubtedly follow an ironically reliable pattern. I know these people mean well, but the repetitive failure of plans to actually materialize is still emotionally exhaustive. Predictably, I am feeling a bit down--naive, mostly, for hoping when history warns me against it and subsequently establishing enough expectation to allow for disappointment. So in my attempt to find a silver lining in this undesirable turn of events, I thank fate for 1) allowing me a few spontaneous hours of solitude, leisurely perusing modern art in the city; and 2) relinquishing unclaimed edible gifts intended for friends to be devoured by myself instead. The travel outlook may be as precarious as ever, but at least I can count on the cookies being tasty.
My habitual, pre-travel compiling of sweet goodies involved a holiday touch for this particular wintertime trip. The assortment includes doctored pretzels and two different cookies, which I shall describe briefly here.
First up: dark chocolate- and candy cane-coated pretzel rods. To make this festive treat, I simply rolled store-bought hard pretzels in melted chocolate, sprinkled them with crushed candy canes, and allowed the chocolate to harden via a short spell in the refrigerator. The sweet mint-chocolate combination is nicely balanced by the saltiness of the pretzels.
I couldn't resist a round of cookie-baking without consulting Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, including these Roasted Almond Cookies with Fleur de Sel in the treat assortment. Attracted by the promise of complimentary sweet-savory flavors and loads of nutty goodness, I was rather excited to attempt the recipe, and am glad I finally did. Of course, I also could not resist making some adjustments; I reduced the amount of oil by half, added almond extract (to accentuate the almond flavor I oh-so-adore), and used regular coarse salt (for lack of fleur de sel). Slightly sweet, soft cookies, beautifully textured with crunchy nut pieces and chewy oats, are made that much better by an unexpected salty kiss. My sister and I have selected these cookies as favorites from selection of goodies I brought along on my trip.
The last component to the treat assortment is in the form of a batch of Mocha Biscotti. The recipe derives from a Christmas cookie book I discovered tucked in my mother's cookbook shelf. It called for almonds, but opting for variety, I replaced them with toasted hazelnuts. I also made appropriate vegan egg substitutions, reduced the amount of sugar, and added a touch of almond extract. The biscotti are not as crisp as I prefer, but they won't break any teeth and will still hold up to a quick dunk in one's hot liquid beverage of choice. The cookies have a pleasant coffee-chocolate flavor and nutty crunch, and are well-suited for accompanying a hot mug of coffee or cocoa, although they are perfectly enjoyable as-is.
Nothing like nibbling tasty treats as a sweet reprieve from current annoyances. Here's hoping tomorrow fares better.