Winter is for decadent desserts. For caramel and eggnog and chocolate. Peppermint candies and cinnamon laced cookies and sweets dusted in powdered sugar. I have memories of going to my relatives houses for Christmas Eve all decked out in my fanciest velvet hair bow and sampling every different shaped butter cookie just to see if they tasted different (they didn’t). And of watching my parents drink red wine and store-bought eggnog (a very exciting new thing at the time, I think). And the sweaters! And the perfectly coifed hairdo’s! My family likes to get glamorous whenever possible, so I have a lot of memories of jewel-bedecked adults clasping tiny cups of sherry in front of the Christmas tree. It is most certainly not a time to skimp on the treats (or drinks).
So one of the major reasons I developed this recipe = there are really very few decadent vegan, gluten free holiday cookie recipes on the internets. And even though I’m not vegan, I still feel like everyone should have the opportunity to pig out on glorious, wintery confections when the time comes.
I’ve had various dietary restrictions over the years, and it’s such a bummer to get invited to a cookie swap or a cocktail party (to which you’re expected to bring something decidedly badass) and you really have no clue what to do. So, yes, the dulce de leche is basically a caramel that you have to baby for quite some time. But it’s pretty damn impressive. And your vegan/gluten-free friends will thank you a la Wayne & Garth.
Filed Under: Dairy Free, dessert, Gluten Free, Vegan, Winter Tagged With: caramel, Chanukah, christmas, cinnamon, coconut sugar, cookie, dessert, dulce, dulce de leche, gluten free, graham, psyllium, sorghum, vegan
So here’s the thing. It’s winter, right? And, like, SO close to Christmas. I mean, Chanukah starts on freakin TUESDAY! And I’m breezily walking out of my house sans mittens and hat, my overcoat wide open, wearing shorts with tights. Because it’s winter-warm. 50 degrees-ish, I mean. It feels nothing like the Christmas season. Where are the glistening streets dusted in powdered sugar? The lights blinking through a freezing mist? The iced over windows?
So I made this complaint to the universe (why no holiday cheer, universe?!). And a couple of things happened. 1. My husband decided to buck up my spirits by picking up his bass and playing Christmas songs with me — just the two of us — in our living room. 2. I got invited to a cookie swap attended by a bunch of really beautiful, happy, positive hippie gals like myself and it RULED. All of the cookies were pro-level and there were tons of creative classics (sage shortbread! sweet potato anise cookies!). 3. I ended up attending a really cool Christmas concert at a church in a black box theater that included a full string section, 20 choral singers, a folky music director on lead, and some pretty fantastic modern dance.
So the universe was like OH YOU WANT SOME HOLIDAY CHEER, HUH?! FINE THEN. YOU ASKED FOR IT.
Our house really looks no different right now than it did in November or October. There’s no Christmas tree or twinkle lights or velvet bows. It almost doesn’t feel like Winter. I know it’s cold. But the grey days have begun to blend together. And there’s no snow to blanket the town in its glossy, wistful magic. I think the most holiday spirit I’ve had this year centered around getting some good deals on Moorea Seal jewelry for my lady friends and making this granola.
I did strongly consider getting a rosemary tree to decorate. Charlie Brown Christmas style. But I never got around to it. My dad never really started celebrating Christmas until about the week before. So now last minute Christmas is tradition! (“Last-minute, and still crushed it” is practically my family’s motto). I’m imagining all of the holiday cheer is going to have to get packed into the 7 days before christmas in an explosion of ornaments, pine needles, and sugar cookies.
I was just invited to a holiday cookie swap out in the country, though. So maybe that will kick-start some festive feelings in my bones (early!).
My aunt makes this kickass granola for Christmas gifts sometimes — rum is the secret ingredient. I don’t have the recipe explicitly, so I basically messed around until I had a recipe that seemed to stand up to her killer version. Feel free to use honey instead of maple syrup if you’re not vegan. And I also think that ghee sub coconut oil would be brilliant. But I’m a bit of a ghee fiend.
Filed Under: breakfast, Chocolate, Dairy Free, dessert, Gluten Free, Winter Tagged With: cherry, chocolate, christmas, cinnamon, coconut, gift, gluten free, granola, hazelnut, hemp, holiday, maple syrup, vegan, winter
Grey winter mornings. A hike through the woods. Wet leaves, the river pulsing on. A deer looks briefly over at me from a far hill. The path is tamped down. Lots of pleasure hikers press through these trees, over the sturdy, vibrant green moss, carving footprints into the ground. My coat swings around me. Five birds flit out of a patch of tall grass into a leafless tree, like live shadows. Walks in the cold like this revive me, take me away from my routine. My worries — which pile up inside of me — lessen in importance. I become more aware of my breath, my pulse, my gait. There’s that phrase “clearing your head.” Which, to me, means slowing the thoughts. Getting to touch those moments when I’m free of the thoughts that constantly bubble up, those clear, pristine moments like a cold glass of water quenching my thirst. The world becomes more of what it is — more intense, alive. The quiet shuffling of my feet, the sloshing and gurgle of the river, the quick upward flight of a bird: music. Clacking bare branches are dancers. Just half a second of experiencing reality like this is like a dose of the best, freeing medicine.
And then I walk to the parking lot and feel the overcast sky like a soft flannel sheet taking over the horizon.
When the grey gets to be too much I brew coffee, make cake. Flour flies up into the air, filling my workspace with hanging dust. I fold in eggs and apple butter and milk. A warming breakfast can stave off cold for a day or more.
There’s something that feels so nourishing about a warm breakfast. I don’t regularly make myself cake or sweets for breakfast. I usually go with gluten free avocado toast topped with an egg and some salt (the most perfect meal). But every so often, I feel like the only thing that will do is something sweet, cinnamon-laced, and hot out of the oven.
I made the apple butter for this cake using winesap apples that graced the tables at my wedding. You can use just about any apple butter, but I do so highly recommend making your own. I now know winesaps make an incredible apple butter (so much better than store-bought). But I’m sure there are tons of varieties of apples that turn out a brilliant butter.
Find this recipe over on Relay Foods Blog!