We went for a walk through Staunton last Saturday. There’s a sweetness to that empty little town. There’s a beautiful strip of struggling business in the downtown (not including The Split Banana, an organic ice cream shop that does well in every season). The city itself is doing its best to pull itself up by its bootstraps, offering grants and loans to young entrepreneurs who stay in the city. There’s a progressive current that runs beneath the old guard mentality. I seem to always find some magic there. Usually in the form of a friend guiding me through the quiet back neighborhoods studded by grandiose, old-Virginia mansions.
There are a lot of wild, ghostly cats that wander the streets. In the Summer I like to discover the pockets of private edible gardens — raised beds of strawberries planted at the top of a driveway on a hill; looming red-green rhubarb sagging into an alley way; window boxes filled with chamomile.
There’s a new bridge that lopes over the train tracks on the edge of town. It connects the downtown with a hill of old oaks where you can sit and look out over everything, watch the sunset light everything on fire. On our wander we ended up kicking up leaves in that oak grove. Under this absolutely massive, leafless tree was a tiny, paper, heart-shaped note. Left for someone. A private dialogue, between who I can only guess. Two lovers forbidden to see each other. Old friends who work opposite shifts, one night, one day. A professor and her loneliest student. Two elderly folks who don’t know how to text.
I left it right where I found it.
Valentines Day. Instead of talking about the strange history of the day, passing each and every one of you a scribbled love note, or gushing about my husband I’ve collected the most fun V-day posts below for you all to melt over.
I prefer to eat my flowers. Thus, Rose Meringues.
Let’s be biscotti people.
A damn good reason to own a hand torch: blood orange chocolate-bottom creme brûlée.
The prettiest vegan coconut oil V-day sugar cookies that ever were.
All I want for V-day is all the pizza.
Almond butter buckeyes because WHY NOT?!
Chocolate. Goat Cheese. Souffle. It hurts me it’s so pretty.
What I’ll actually be making for V-day, because it’s so damn easy and SO damn good — chocolate covered stuffed dates.
Check out more Valentines inspiration from Will Frolic for Food! Here’s everything chocolate from the archives.
I hope you guys enjoy this cookie cake! I’m in love with it. Adapted only slightly from the genius Jessie of Faring Well, who rightfully deemed it MAGIC Cookie Cake. I wholeheartedly agree.
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup almond butter
- ¼ cup ghee, melted -- or coconut oil if vegan
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups almond flour
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon whole chia seeds
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ cup chopped dark chocolate (70% or higher)
- ¼ cup cacao nibs
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup chopped dried bing cherries
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two 6" cast iron baking dishes or skillets (you could also use 4 3 inch mini skillets) with ghee.
- In a medium bowl, combine the maple syrup, almond butter, melted ghee, and vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, combine the almond flour, cinnamon, cardamom, chia, baking soda and baking powder until evenly mixed.
- Pour the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and stir together until you have a wet dough.
- Add the chopped chocolate, cacao nibs (2 teaspoons reserved for topping), ⅛ cup pine nuts, and chopped dried cherries and mix in until the dough is studded with everything pretty evenly.
- Spoon out equal amounts of dough into each cast iron skillet. Top each cookie cake with the reserved two teaspoons of nibs and ⅛ cup pine nuts.
- Bake on the center rack for 25-30 minutes -- the cake will rise and become golden on top.
- Remove carefully and let cool at least 20 minutes before diving in. Serve with coconut cream or ice cream on top!