The Holidays Are (Mocha Coco-)Nuts!

It’s that time of the year again.

No, not the time of the year when people spend cold days cozying up with their families by the fire, opening gifts and making resolutions; the time of year when people can’t find parking in the mall parking lot at 8 am. The time of year when peace and goodwill only applies after you’ve elbow-checked at least three people while trying to find the cheapest (insert-product-you-must-own-now-here), and then yelled at the barista for making your coffee 5 degrees too cold.

Needless to say, my day job is in retail.

I don’t know if it’s a symptom of my “profession,” or just a real sea change, but the holidays don’t feel like holidays anymore.

And for those of us on the other side of the cash register, sometimes the only thing that can get us through the ultra-long holiday shifts is a little extra boost from modern American (wo)man’s best friend: caffeine.

Personally, I gave up coffee when I went vegan back in August, but I figured that my fellow coworkers might need a day-after-Christmas pick-me-up.

And so I bought espresso beans.

And covered them in chocolate.

And then, for no reason other than the fact that “Mocha Coconut” is so much fun to say, I added coconut.

Better than Snow

And thus, Vegan Mocha Coconut Cookies saved the retail Christmas. (Or at least brightened up a few of my friends’ days…)

Love & Cookies,

KP

Advertisements

Orange You Glad…

It’s almost Christmas, and, let’s face it: I’m sick of Christmas cookies.

Blasphemy (sort of), I know. But here’s why:

In 2007, I signed up for email newsletters from Allrecipes.com, Epicurious.com, and FoodNetwork.com. I read them for inspiration–and, before Twitter, they helped me get an idea of baking trends and seasonal flavors. And every year, come December, all three websites try to outdo themselves with suggestions for Christmas cookies.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like gingerbread. I’m not a huge fan of candy canes, but I can see their worth. Shortbread and sugar cookies will always have  a place in my heart, whether or not they’re decorated with red and green frosting or cut out to look like snowflakes. But it gets old after a while. Every year, we see variations on a theme, and every year, I yearn for something different.

And then I happened to stumble upon, as I often do while jumping from blog to blog in a quasi-ADHD fashion, a link to a blog talking about a traditionally English Christmastime treat: Terry’s Chocolate Oranges.

If you have never had a Chocolate Orange, I ask–no, I implore you to go find one, smash it on a table, eat it, and then come back and finish reading my blog. No, seriously; I’ll wait.

Done? Ok, good. Because, frankly, you’re a better person for having added that amazing-ness into your life.*

And so I had an idea: Chocolate Oranges are Christmas-y. Oranges are in season right now. Chocolate and orange taste amazing together….Why not make a Chocolate Orange Christmas cookie?

Done.

What you see next is a brief montage of citrus and chocolate-y goodness, from the candied orange peels to the divine cookie integration.

(PS, there is no “zest” in these cookies. I used an orange flavoring I found at Whole Foods–made from sunflower & food-grade orange oils–instead. There are, however, chunks of orange peel, candied in sugar and then smothered in chocolate. You’re welcome.)

Candied Chocolate-Covered Orange Peels

Yes.

 

Just...yes.

*I swear they’re not paying me to say that. Those things are just awesome.

Happy holidays.

Love & Cookies,

KP

Bad Breath Cookies (and other “weird” foods)


I want to start by stating that my food habits have never been what one might classify as “normal.”*

When I was a toddler, I refused to eat anything but hot dogs and broccoli. And then there were the unfortunate years that can only be referred to as the Era of Steak-Umms and Tortellini (but we try not to reference those years much)…

There were also the (too many) years of disordered eating, in which I ate almost nothing but rice cakes, all natural peanut butter and apples, and, most recently, the super-high-protein-and-supplement diet I undertook in order to become an NPC Bikini competitor.

But right now, I’m finally eating “normally,” and people still give me funny looks.

So let me start this post by stating: being a vegan is both normal and healthy. It’s also possible to be abnormal and unhealthy–but being a vegan, if you’re doing it right, means that you’re not just eating steamed broccoli and maybe some pasta for dinner. In the past few months, I’ve learned so much about balanced vegan eating from a ton of amazing, informative bloggers, that it’s hard to imagine how anyone could see veganism as unhealthy or weird. It’s not. I promise. And being a vegan is helping me to get past my disordered eating and into health. So there.

If you want weird, however, I can give you weird.

Weird like garlic and chocolate. Together. In a cookie. A vegan cookie.

No, seriously.

Have you ever eaten a clove of roasted garlic? It’s one of my desert island foods (seriously…this is where my eating habits get weird.). And so the other day, while eating a salad (with tempeh and black beans, mind you) liberally sprinkled with cloves of sweet, addicting roasted garlic, I had an idea: why not put that amazing sweetness into a cookie?

Why not indeed:

Imagine, if you will, garlic roasted in hazelnut oil and agave nectar and coated in semi-sweet chocolate.

Now, take that garlic and pair it with some hazelnuts, and then add them into the most Divine Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie you can sink your teeth into…and:

Voilá!

I give you Bad Breath Cookies.

My house smelled like an Italian restaurant while these baked. And they were totally worth the garlic breath.

Not weird at all.

Love and Cookies,

KP

PS I am amazed by the response I’ve gotten to the concept (and the taste!) of these cookies. Evidence of their epic awesomeness:

 

*If there even is such a thing as “normal,” that is…

Unusual and unexpected

It happened innocently enough, a simple question asked in the back of house while my friends bit into the copy cat Thin Mint cookies I made for my friend Rhett’s birthday: “What kind of cookies should I make next?”

Of course I got the usual: banana cookies, chocolate chip, peanut butter…and I said, “fine, I’ll see what I can come up with.”

I didn’t get far, because the next day, my friend Sidney issued me a challenge: biscotti.

I’d never really tried to make biscotti before, since I’m more of your super-soft-and-chewy-pillowy-anything-peanut-butter-or-chocolate kind of gal, so the hard, crunchy, dip-me-in-coffee-or-break-your-teeth kind of cookie never really did it for me. But I took the challenge, because what kind of woman would I be if I let a challenge pass me by?

And then, of course, he threw a curveball: Pistachios, apricots, chocolate.

And so I made it happen.

What I like about these biscotti–twice baked cookies–is that they’re not the hard, stale-tasting cookies I remember coming on the side of my mom’s coffee saucer at an Italian restaurant. In fact, I suddenly understand why people like them so much. This particular recipe has the perfect combination between moisture & crumble, and when I bring them in to work, they disappear faster than any cookie I’ve made so far, Better Than Chocolate Chip Cookies excepted (because the two are pretty much on par for disappearance speed).

What I find so funny is that they’re unexpectedly popular…It’s not every day that you hear requests for ingredients like apricots or pistachios, and biscotti are certainly not the first cookies you find at your typical bake sale. But I like that these cookies, despite their unusual nature, still have the charm and charisma, if you will, to outperform your run-of-the-mill peanut butter or sugar cookies.

Here’s how the biscotti are made:

PS Happy birthday, Sidney! Thank you for inspiring me to make these cookies–and to take the first steps to make KP’s Cookies a reality!

Love & Cookies,

KP