christmas, meet summer

well.  the chocolate mint thumbprints from Baked Explorations did not disappoint.  the dough really did not disappoint.  i know good ingredients make a world of difference in food, but i thought i normally used a pretty good cocoa powder.  but i’m not sure what else it could be other than the valrhona cocoa powder i used that made that dough so darn good i was tempted to forget the baking. and i was right, the cookies really are like a cookie version of the chocolate souffle cupcakes with white chocolate mint cream. here is the cookie recipe if you’d like to take a stab at them.  i’d go halvsies on the dough – half to eat, half to bake. omar thumbed through the book and was pretty blown away from the pictures of their cakes.  i’m seeing a burnt sugar bundt cake with caramel rum frosting and perhaps a caramel apple cake in my future.

believe it or not, i’m not much of a cookie person, and it’s kind of low on things i like to bake.  but christmas hits and who doesn’t like making them?  i made three batches the other night.  the above recipe, the current Martha Stewart Living‘s chocolate mint crackles, and some chewy orange-almond cookies.  omar is not even an anise seed fan and he loves them.  i love anything that contains anise seed, orange, and almond so i knew they’d be a winner. if you decide to make them, do as my mom says and be sure to toast your nuts. it’s good advice.

i think this is the first christmas that i don’t think twice that while on one side of the kitchen the oven is puffing away churning out rich and christmasy baked goods, the other side of the kitchen is a mountain of beautiful ripe tomatoes, squashes, corn, and greens.  it’s south florida.  it’s christmas.  it is what it is.  and i kind of love it now.  the lighter meals make up for the many, many cookies i’ve been eating.

if we were to hang out right now i’d probably be able to turn the conversation to peter berley’s The Flexitarian Table quite quickly. i don’t know the last time i was so taken with a complete cookbook. if you can get your hands on some good cherry tomatoes and fresh corn, go try his fresh corn polenta with sauteed cherry tomatoes.  he suggests you top the creamy corn-filled polenta dish with a poached egg, and everyone in this house agrees. (except asher, but he doesn’t agree with much in the food department right now.  poor kid and it’s his loss he’s choosing to go on what is amounting to a food strike in the middle of cookie season.) another winner was the quinoa (i subbed brown rice) salad with green beans, corn, tomatoes, and toasted pumpkin seeds.  squeeze a bunch of lemon juice on top and it’s pretty much perfect.

and after all the veggies, there is no guilt from all the cookies.

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