Dark chocolate coconut oatmeal cookies

Dark chocolate coconut oatmeal cookies

For the first thirteen years of my life, 18 December was a day where we gathered around a table, with cake and ice cream, to celebrate the birth of my Great Oma. Despite the fact that she’s been gone for eleven years, I still consider 18 December to be her day. So today I celebrate the life of my favorite woman in the entirety of existence, because doing anything else just seems wrong.

That lady, I miss her deep wrinkles and unintentional frown. I miss the way we used to spend late mornings in our pajamas, watching the Price is Right. I’d try my best to sync the rocking chair to the tick of the clock, and she’d crochet on the couch across the room. I never liked that couch, but I liked watching her crochet. Her knobby fingers were quick, creating cloths we would use to wash dishes, and delicate pink doilies that would line the bottoms of things capable of scratching her fine wood tables. I didn’t know it then, but a few of those doilies would later adorn my bedside table. I miss the way she used to spoon sugar over my bran flakes, and the look she’d give me when I’d ask for Just one more spoonful, please? She’s the reason bran cereal is the only cereal I’ll ever eat. Except now I eat it sans sugar and have a tendency to drown it in almond milk. I miss sneaking into her bedroom and going through the tray of clip-on earrings she tucked into the top drawer of her dresser. After all these years, I can still hear her lecturing me about her thoughts on pierced ears – If God wanted us to have holes in our earlobes, he’d have put them there!

Toasted coconut
Valrhona chocolate and unrefined coconut oil
Muscovado sugar

These cookies, they’re a jazzed up version of the ones we used to make together. I can still picture her standing at the kitchen counter, hunched over the mixing bowl trying to scrape every last bit of shortening from the measuring cup. She’d spoon the dough onto a baking sheet, put the cookies into the oven, then sit down at the breakfast nook and tend to her crocheting. She was always crocheting, and I was always waiting for the cookies to finish baking. Like the anxious child I was, I’d sit right in front of the oven – nose pressed up against the window – watching the cookies as they came to life.

Sometimes I close my eyes and picture myself as that blonde haired girl sitting cross-legged in front of a 350˚ oven. In this moment I can feel her sitting within arm’s reach. I can hear her humming and tapping her foot to the beat of some made up tune, and I can smell the cookies baking in the oven. This moment, it grounds me and reminds me to breathe. It reminds me that all I have to do is close my eyes and there she is, living in my memory; sitting right beside me, just as she had never left.

As the days pass, I find myself missing her more and more. I long for her wisdom and warmth, and the way she used to embrace my shoulders and kiss my forehead one thousand times. But more than anything, I long to be that small girl again, baking alongside her in the kitchen. I didn’t appreciate it much then, but those moments of baking together so perfectly illustrate my childhood. I was lucky to call her mine for thirteen whole years.

To my sweet lady in the sky, I love you immensely. And I will never stop celebrating you.

Dark chocolate coconut oatmeal cookies
Great Oma's recipe book

Notes: These cookies are delicate and more complicated than your average cookie, but they’re worth the extra effort. If dark chocolate + toasted coconut aren’t your thing, you should probably see a doctor. Just kidding – omit them and add something else. Or add nothing. The cookies can be made gluten free by replacing the spelt flour with a gluten free flour blend (I recommend 1/2 cup all purpose + 1/2 cup buckwheat), but make sure you add 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum. I use unsweetened shaved coconut, but if you plan on using that moist, stringy crap, I recommend finely chopping it first. Also, how to toast coconut.
DARK CHOCOLATE COCONUT OATMEAL COOKIES

1 cup spelt flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, softened
1/2 cup coconut milk fat
2/3 cup muscovado sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 flax egg
3/4 cup coarsely ground rolled oats
1/2 cup toasted coconut shavings
1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two large baking sheets with a silicone mat or parchment paper; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, cream together the oil, milk fat, sugar and vanilla extract using a hand mixer on high speed; blend for 45-60 seconds. Add the flax egg and mix just until incorporated. If you can see clumps of coconut oil (which may develop when you add the cold flax egg), set the bowl on top of your warm oven and continue mixing, just until the clumps dissolve. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture in two parts; stirring after each addition. Once the dough is combined, mix in the oats, coconut, and chocolate. Dough is best if wrapped in plastic and refrigerated overnight – but if you don’t have time for that, proceed to the next step. I figured most of you wouldn’t have time.

Using a medium (1 1/2 tablespoon) cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet; flatten with the palm of your hand. Their shape won’t change much in the oven, so flatten to whatever thickness you prefer. Bake at 350˚F for 8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, then store in an air tight container for up to three days.

Yield: 30 cookies

Caramel-swirl apple cake, for Thom

Caramel-swirl apple cake
Caramel-swirl apple cake
Apples
My handsome man,

Happy birthday! Today you turn 30. Thirty. I know it freaks you out, but I’m hoping my surprise will help to ease the pain from the obvious fact that you’re no longer in your twenties. In two hours, we’re going to the airport. And we’re going to board a plane and fly to Phoenix for the afternoon. When we get there, a car will be waiting to take us to that restaurant you speak of incessantly. You know, that one with animal-style burgers and Neapolitan milkshakes?

I was going to get you a set of those fancy Wusthof knives, but I figured that would only add to the whole making-you-feel-old thing. Not to mention, the last thing either of us needs is more shit. So I decided to buy you an experience, because experiences are more important than things. Today – for your thirtieth birthday – we’re going to gorge ourselves on burgers (you) and fries (us) then fly back to Denver and take our fat bellies to the Green Russell for a drink. After that, I’m going to take you home and rub your back and.. well.. the rest isn’t exactly suitable for the this corner of the internet.

I love you. To the moon and back a thousand times. I don’t care that you’re 30. In fact, I think it’s sexy. Now get out of bed and get ready, we’ve got a plane to catch.

So much love,
Ladycakes

PS – Seriously, get out of bed.

Caramel-swirl apple cake
Pecans
Caramel-swirl apple cake

Notes: This cake is super moist and produces a light crumb, but it’s not nearly as fluffy as cakes made with all purpose flour. If you want it to have a lighter feel, substitute 2 tablespoons of potato starch for 2 tablespoons of flour. I like making cakes in 6″ pans because we have a small family. That, and all of my pretty cake stands are 6-7″ round. This recipe can be doubled to make a larger 9″ cake, but you’ll have to adjust the baking time accordingly. If you want to do the apple layer on the bottom, that would work, too. The cake will only have to bake for 30 minutes, though.

CARAMEL-SWIRL APPLE CAKE

1 cup whole spelt flour
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
6 tbsp sucanat
1/4 cup vegan butter, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1 flax egg
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup caramel sauce, divided
2 tart apples, peeled and chopped

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line the bottom of a 6″ spring form pan with parchment paper and spray with oil; set aside. Pass the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and sucanat through a sift set over a large mixing bowl. Create a well in the center and pour in the butter, vanilla extract, almond milk, and flax egg; beat with a hand mixer on high speed for 20-25 seconds. Fold in the pecans then pour half of the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of caramel, then top with the remaining batter. Run a knife through batter in a figure-8 motion several times. In a small bowl, toss the chopped apples and remaining caramel, and add additional pecan pieces if desired. Place apples over batter and press to even. Bake at 350˚F for 40-45 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Keeps in an air tight container for 3 days, but is best the day of.

Yield: 6 slices

Lazy girl peanut butter cookies

Lazy girl peanut butter cookies
Lazy girl peanut butter cookie ingredients

In case you couldn’t tell by my lack of posting, shit has hit the fan over here. I’m scrambling to put finishing touches on projects and research papers, and trying my best to refrain from using inappropriate language when I get upset or frustrated. The end is in sight, so close I can almost taste it. But unfortunately, the end being in sight means my anxiety has quadrupled and, as a result, I’ve morphed into a complete nutcase who binge eats dark chocolate, tortilla chips, and caramel covered popcorn. At the same time.

As if luring me from this place wasn’t enough, the massive amount of school work has also managed to sabotage my diet and fitness regimen. What used to be chock full of fresh fruits and vegetables now consists of junk food. Lots of it.* And don’t even get me started on the fact that I don’t remember the last time I picked up the dumbbells in my spare room.** That’s how lazy I’ve become – I cannot even be bothered to lift in the comfort of my own home.

Lazy girl peanut butter cookies

My pants like to remind me of what this type of neglect will do to a body. Little do they know, I have a secret stash of jeans for moments like this; moments that would have previously resulted in a meltdown of sorts. You know, like me throwing every pair of pants I own out of my fourth story window. Or shoveling spoonfuls of homemade cookie dough ice cream into my face while crying to the tune of Kate Winslet telling Leonardo DiCaprio she’ll never let go. But now? Now I just give my skinnies the middle finger and pull out my boyfriend jeans. Otherwise known as the jeans that were made for fat days. Or weeks. Months? I’m not judging.

*My version of junk food isn’t really junk food. I don’t want you to picture me eating corn dogs or donuts or any other stuff that is worthy of being called junk. Peanut butter is hardly junk, but I consider it so when half the jar gets eaten in one day.
**I wrote this post earlier in the week. Dumbbells were picked up yesterday. Progress.

Lazy girl peanut butter cookie pie

Oh, that thing up there? I call it lazy girl peanut butter cookie pie. It’s the result of pressing the dough into a 6″ cake pan then pouring melted chocolate (1/4 cup chocolate chips + 1 teaspoon coconut oil) over top. It’s good. You should make it.

Notes: Any type of flaked grain will work in this recipe – so far, I’ve made the cookies with kamut and quinioa. If you want to turn these into protein cookies, omit 1/2 cup of the oats and add 1/3 cup of your favorite protein powder. Cacao powder would be good, too. Every once in a while I’ll throw in a handful of cacao nibs or a pinch of cinnamon. If your dates aren’t fresh, you’ll want to soak them in water for 15-20 minutes to soften them up.

LAZY GIRL PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

2 cups rolled oats
Pinch of fine sea salt
10 medjool dates
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
6 tbsp nut milk

In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the oats and sea salt into a fine meal. Add the dates and peanut butter; blend for 30-45 seconds. Add the nut milk and pulse just until combined. Using a small cookie scoop, drop the dough onto a flat surface lined with parchment paper. Press a fork into the tops, then freeze for 15 minutes to set. Refrigerate in an air tight container for up to two weeks. Cookies will keep in freezer for months.

Yield: 2 dozen