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Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables

August 2, 2016 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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All of those colors can only mean one thing: summer is here! Huzzah!

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Look, I love summer. Don’t get me wrong. I love that it’s light out so late and the farmer’s markets are teeming with fresh fruits and vegetables. I love being able to practice yoga whenever I want and having the time to catch up on all of the pleasure reading I’ve missed over the course of high school. I love singing and playing my ukulele in the grass and listening to Iron & Wine and Bob Dylan in my room. But holy crap I want summer to be over.

As you know from my relentless complaining, senior year kinda sorta really sucked. Nothing really horrendous happened, but so many bad little things piling up one on top of another totally tanked my year. Sometimes, there’s bad energy that settles and you have to wait for it to pass. Life is a balancing act: you have periods of where lots of good things happen, periods where lots of icky things happen. It all evens out in the end, but it doesn’t feel that way when you’re in a moment of suckitude. And this year was one big moment of suckitude.

I was really ready to go at the end of my junior year, and unfortunately, senior year wound up being sloppy seconds. I made a bunch of mistakes and lost several of my closest friends, which stunk. I know people come and go, for life is an ebb and flow, but it felt like so many people were going this year. I felt disconnected, and the aha moment where everything clicked again never came. I like spending more time alone than with others, but there’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. And the latter feels yuck.

I don’t usually get embarrassed about things — hell, I came to school dressed as a giant tomato once — but for some reason, I feel ashamed about this year. I felt the claws of my old anxiety sinking back in as the embarrassment swirled in limitless circles in my head. I feel foolish, and I know I’ve been particularly unkind to myself recently, something I’ve struggled with for years. I want to shake it all away but it stays as I meditate and play my favorite songs by The 1975. I hate it. I thought I had moved on from this!

That’s the thing with anxiety. It’s two steps forward, four steps back. Sometimes it eats you. Sometimes you make sure it gets served. But when you’re in it, it makes you feel insecure, regretful, misunderstood. It pushes people away for you. It makes you think everyone hates you. But still, you soldier on and smile when you can, because you know you are better than your anxiety, and one day, the switch will flip and your thoughts will become rational again. It’s a practice.

I just want to be college Abby already. The Abby who, wearing a leather jacket with a yoga mat slung over her shoulder, runs into someone she knew from high school on the subway and grins because she’s a city girl now. The Abby who goes to concerts on Monday nights in Williamsburg. The Abby who carries a thoughtful little journal in which she writes existential haikus in Washington Square Park. I know that Abby is coming soon — 26 days, to be exact — but it all just seems so far away. And it’s frustrating.

You know what the best way to channel your frustrations is? Gnocchi!

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I find the process of making gnocchi so therapeutic. It might seem tedious to some people, but to me, there’s nothing more relaxing than rolling out potato dumplings.

My dad and I attempted to make gnocchi for the first time when I was in fifth grade. Let’s just say our foray was not exactly successful. All I can remember is that the process was messy and confusing, and when we dropped our “dumplings” in boiling water, they disintegrated. Whoops. My mother, queen of cleaning, vowed that we would never make gnocchi again on account of such a disaster.

Years later, I tried again on my own, and this time, my gnocchi worked. (My mom actually liked them, to her surprise!) Over the past year or so, I’ve gradually been refining my gnocchi technique, learning how to put together the tastiest plate possible with a variety of colors and textures.

Most Italian chefs take a simple approach when it comes to serving gnocchi, usually serving the dish with pesto or a very simple cheese or tomato sauce. While there’s something to be said about showcasing the gnocchi pretty much on its own, I like serving these soft, chewy dumplings with lots of vegetables for some varied flavor and texture. I don’t like dishes that are all soft; rather, I like my meals to be crunchy and smooth and everything in between.

By pairing the gnocchi with roasted tomatoes, zucchini, corn, and basil, you not only get a ton of veggies in your dinner, but also the joy of having a party of flavor in your mouth. While I loved this combo, I look forward to making gnocchi later this summer with eggplant, peppers, and other tasty produce.

Gnocchi might seem intimidating, but don’t be scared! The first time you make it, I highly suggest setting aside an afternoon to conquer your project. You’ll feel much better with extra time on your hands.

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Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr
Cooking Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hr
Yield 4-5 servings

For the gnocchi:

2 lb starchy baking potatoes (about 2 large baking potatoes)

1 egg

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

For the vegetables:

2 lb cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 large zucchinis or summer squashes, halved and sliced into half moons

1 head of basil, leaves finely slivered

2 cups of fire-roasted corn or 2 ears of grilled corn, kernels separated

1/4 cup of olive oil, divided, plus more to taste

2 teaspoons of salt, divided

1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

For the gnocchi:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until tender, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Let the potatoes cool for just a few minutes upon removing from the oven, then peel off the skin and discard.

Using a ricer, food mill, or box grater, process the potatoes. Dust a clean workspace with plenty of flour and spread the riced/grated potatoes in a thin, even layer atop the flour. Let cool.

Meanwhile, beat together the egg, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Once the potatoes are cool, form them into a mound and make a small hole in the center. Pour the egg mixture into the hole and, using a large fork or your hands, incorporate the egg into the potato.

Pour flour in, 1/2 cup at a time, until a slightly sticky dough begins to form. (I highly recommend using a dough scraper to incorporate all of the flour!) Towards the end, add the 1/4 cup of cheese. If you feel the dough is too sticky, add more flour — but don’t go overboard!

Remove the dough ball and re-dust the workspace with plenty of flour. Using a sharp knife or dough scraper, cut the dough ball into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll the ball into a log about 1/2 inch wide. Cut the log into 1 inch long rectangles.

Gently roll and squish each rectangle so it’s a decent-looking dumpling. A lot of people roll the gnocchi against a fork to create ridges, but that’s too fussy for me, so I just leave them as is. It saves time in an already labor-intensive recipe.

Repeat the process with the remaining dough balls. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and place the gnocchi atop them until you’re ready to boil them.

For the veggies:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease two large baking sheets with olive oil. On one sheet, toss the tomatoes with the garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt. On the other sheet, toss the zucchini half moons with the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast both in the oven until the zucchini is golden-brown and the tomatoes begin to bristle, about 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside.

To assemble:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, 1/4 of the batch at a time, and remove from the pot with a slotted spoon when each dumpling floats to the top. Place the cooked gnocchi in a large bowl.

Once all of the gnocchi have finished cooking, add the roasted vegetables, corn, cheese, basil, and a little drizzle of olive oil to taste. Toss together and add a little salt and/or pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.


Here’s to potatoes, vegetables, and letting go to move forward. See you soon, loves. <3

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Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables

July 25, 2016 Print this page

If I were a food, I’d be gnocchi: a happy potato dumpling! 🙂 While the gnocchi takes some time to prepare, the result is so worth it: fresh, chewy, slightly doughy pasta with fresh notes of basil, the sweetness of corn, and umami zing of roasted tomatoes and zucchini.

Inspired by this recipe

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr
Cooking Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hr
Yield 4-5 servings

For the gnocchi:

2 lb starchy baking potatoes (about 2 large baking potatoes)

1 egg

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

For the vegetables:

2 lb cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 large zucchinis or summer squashes, halved and sliced into half moons

1 head of basil, leaves finely slivered

2 cups of fire-roasted corn or 2 ears of grilled corn, kernels separated

1/4 cup of olive oil, divided, plus more to taste

2 teaspoons of salt, divided

1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

For the gnocchi:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until tender, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Let the potatoes cool for just a few minutes upon removing from the oven, then peel off the skin and discard.

Using a ricer, food mill, or box grater, process the potatoes. Dust a clean workspace with plenty of flour and spread the riced/grated potatoes in a thin, even layer atop the flour. Let cool.

Meanwhile, beat together the egg, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Once the potatoes are cool, form them into a mound and make a small hole in the center. Pour the egg mixture into the hole and, using a large fork or your hands, incorporate the egg into the potato.

Pour flour in, 1/2 cup at a time, until a slightly sticky dough begins to form. (I highly recommend using a dough scraper to incorporate all of the flour!) Towards the end, add the 1/4 cup of cheese. If you feel the dough is too sticky, add more flour — but don’t go overboard!

Remove the dough ball and re-dust the workspace with plenty of flour. Using a sharp knife or dough scraper, cut the dough ball into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll the ball into a log about 1/2 inch wide. Cut the log into 1 inch long rectangles.

Gently roll and squish each rectangle so it’s a decent-looking dumpling. A lot of people roll the gnocchi against a fork to create ridges, but that’s too fussy for me, so I just leave them as is. It saves time in an already labor-intensive recipe.

Repeat the process with the remaining dough balls. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and place the gnocchi atop them until you’re ready to boil them.

For the veggies:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease two large baking sheets with olive oil. On one sheet, toss the tomatoes with the garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt. On the other sheet, toss the zucchini half moons with the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast both in the oven until the zucchini is golden-brown and the tomatoes begin to bristle, about 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside.

To assemble:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, 1/4 of the batch at a time, and remove from the pot with a slotted spoon when each dumpling floats to the top. Place the cooked gnocchi in a large bowl.

Once all of the gnocchi have finished cooking, add the roasted vegetables, corn, cheese, basil, and a little drizzle of olive oil to taste. Toss together and add a little salt and/or pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.


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Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes (whole-wheat + vegan)

June 1, 2016 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Food! Glorious food!

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It feels like I’ve barely had time to cook lately. The past six months or so, I’ve significantly upped my yoga practice, so I’ve been dashing off to afternoon or evening classes almost every day. When I get home, I’ll snack on whatever fruits and veggies I can find rather than cooking an elaborate meal. While I love yoga — I am training to become a teacher this summer and fall, after all — I do miss my daily ritual of preheating the oven and heating pans with olive oil.

Sometimes, though, a free morning or night will present itself, and I’ll get roasting, bake something, or make a yummy breakfast like these pancakes!

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After AP exams are over, most seniors at my high school go on internship — meaning we’re free from the confines of school to go out into the community and do something worthwhile. As for me, I’m currently interning at the local newspaper, building up my writing repertoire before heading off to college.

I know what you’re thinking: “Abby, I thought you were all about food! Why are you working at a newspaper?!” Well, I ain’t no one trick pony. Yes, I like to cook (and eat, cough) but I also love to write, and do photography, and do yoga, and learn about history, and draw, and do crafts, and do music and…

…okay, I’ll stop. The point is that I like lots of things, and as a teenager especially, I think it’s really important to get experience in lots of different areas in order to be the most well-rounded adult possible. Also, since I might want to pursue food writing as a possible career, this gives me good practice on the journalistic side of things.

What’s so nice about internship is that there’s no homework. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have anything to do for school in the afternoon and evening. Free time is glorious. I’ve finally had time to read books (I read Walden — one of the most amazing pieces of literature ever) and have started teaching myself how to play ukulele. It’s so nice to sit on my bed every night and strum and sing away, not having to worry about waking up at the buttcrack of dawn the next morning to suffer beneath the weight of tests and study guides and worksheets.

Now I just have to graduate. Eighteen days from today, baby. I can’t wait to decorate my cap. It’s going to be purple and sparkly and have Grumpy Cat and Pusheen on it. It will be glorious.

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So yeah. Pancakes. Pancakes are almost as fantastic as escaping four years of high school. Especially pancakes with bananas and chocolate chips.

What’s the secret to chewy, fluffy pancakes? Baking powder. Lots of it. A tablespoon seems excessive, but trust me, you need it. Nothing is sadder than a flat pancake.

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So, are you ready to how to make these marvelous breakfast delights?

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Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 5 min
Total Time 20 min
Yield 12 pancakes

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (feel free to substitute with all-purpose or gluten-free flour)

1 heaping tablespoon of baking powder

2 tablespoons of sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup + 1/2 cup of unsweetened vanilla soy milk

2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed

3 tablespoons of canola oil

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 ripe bananas, sliced thinly into rounds

1/3-1/2 cup of mini dark chocolate chips

Directions

In a large bowl, sift and whisk together the flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

Pour 1 cup of soy milk into a measuring cup. Add the vinegar and ground flaxseed, and whisk vigorously with a fork to combine. Let sit for five minutes to congeal slightly.

Pour the milk/vinegar/flaxseed mixture into the center of the dry ingredients. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of soy milk, oil, and vanilla, and use a spatula to fold everything together. Stop when no clumps remain — don’t go any further!

Using the spatula, stir in the bananas and chocolate chips. Again, be careful not to over-fold. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let the batter set for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Do this at least five minutes prior to pouring in any batter — you want the pan to be hot!

Using a 1/4 cup measure, spoon rounds of batter into the pan. Don’t overcrowd — I found that two individual scoops was best. Cook for 4 minutes, or until the top begins to harden slightly, bubbles form, and the bottom is golden brown. Gently flip, and continue cooking until no longer liquid in the center, about 2-3 minutes.

Remove and repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve hot with maple syrup, jam, and/or peanut butter, or store in an airtight container and reheat in a toaster for later consumption.


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What are your favorite pancake add-ins? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know! 🙂


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Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes

May 30, 2016 Print this page

Pancakes are such a wonderful classic. A sprinkling of dark chocolate chips makes this more of an indulgent breakfast, but not so sweet to be considered dessert: the perfect balance, in my opinion. Feel free to substitute your favorite fruit for bananas (I bet strawberries or blueberries would be good!), and leave out the chocolate chips if you’d like.

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 5 min
Total Time 20 min
Yield 12 pancakes

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (feel free to substitute with all-purpose or gluten-free flour)

1 heaping tablespoon of baking powder

2 tablespoons of sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup + 1/2 cup of unsweetened vanilla soy milk

2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed

3 tablespoons of canola oil

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 ripe bananas, sliced thinly into rounds

1/3-1/2 cup of mini dark chocolate chips

Directions

In a large bowl, sift and whisk together the flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

Pour 1 cup of soy milk into a measuring cup. Add the vinegar and ground flaxseed, and whisk vigorously with a fork to combine. Let sit for five minutes to congeal slightly.

Pour the milk/vinegar/flaxseed mixture into the center of the dry ingredients. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of soy milk, oil, and vanilla, and use a spatula to fold everything together. Stop when no clumps remain — don’t go any further!

Using the spatula, stir in the bananas and chocolate chips. Again, be careful not to over-fold. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let the batter set for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Do this at least five minutes prior to pouring in any batter — you want the pan to be hot!

Using a 1/4 cup measure, spoon rounds of batter into the pan. Don’t overcrowd — I found that two individual scoops was best. Cook for 4 minutes, or until the top begins to harden slightly, bubbles form, and the bottom is golden brown. Gently flip, and continue cooking until no longer liquid in the center, about 2-3 minutes.

Remove and repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve hot with maple syrup, jam, and/or peanut butter, or store in an airtight container and reheat in a toaster for later consumption.


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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies with White + Dark Chocolate Kisses

December 28, 2015 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Oh yes. It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for.

THE RELEASE OF THE RECIPE FOR THE INFAMOUS CHOCOLATE CRINKLE COOKIES!!!

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(If you know me, you know I am now hysterically laughing all by myself and will not stop these maniacal giggles for at least another five minutes.)

But these cookies are #goals and #aspirations. What’s with the hashtags? #idk. Have I lost a great amount of self-respect over the course of the past month? #perhaps. 😉

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I am so happy that it’s winter break, and that I’m currently sitting on a beach chair and listening to the ocean waves crash against the shore as my fingers pitter-patter away on my laptop’s keyboard. I think I understand why they call twelfth grade senior year: the stress ages you until you need either a cane, Social Security, or both.

*Badum tsssssssss*

But seriously. The past month has been a tired trudge through college decisions, more applications, endless essay-writing, tears, screams of joy, late-night panic attacks over Facebook Messenger, Snapchats with black and white filters and text labeled “crying and no longer trying,” distribution of sympathy brownies, and miserable mornings where I’ve hidden under my favorite English teacher’s desk clutching a pink blankie (true story). The moments of happiness were wonderful beyond compare, but the rest…

Still, I feel incredibly grateful for everything that has happened. Why?!

Well, throughout this anxiety-ridden time, I’ve honestly made more meaningful connections with the people around me than I have this entire school year. You know that High School Musical song “We’re All in This Together?” That’s what the past four weeks have felt like, at least to me. It’s been so…nice to see everyone giving each other hugs and talking openly and candidly with one another. Even though a lot of my friends received not-so-good news, others received fabulous news, and everyone was there for everyone else either way. In my humble opinion, it’s been a truly beautiful thing to witness, and I feel so lucky to have watched it unfold.

I’ve had wonderful, heart-warming conversations with some of the most lovely, kind people I know, both friends and teachers. I’ve gone on some fabulous adventures with my best friends to take my mind off of things. Yes, I’ve had moments of despair, but I’ve also had many moments of contentment, where I’ve been so happy that the universe has given me exactly what I needed after all. And for that, I will smile, because I can give love, I can feel love, and I can choose love.

You know what else was awesome? The ABBY BAKING RAVE 2k15!!!

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Every year, I bake my teachers a variety of goodies around the holidays, but this year, I went all-out, because hey, it’s senior year: go big or go home! (That was the catchphrase that was going to be on our homecoming t-shirt, but then the administration nixed it because it’s supposedly a reference to alcohol. Ouch.)

I certainly went big. I started on a Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M., then baked and boxed almost non-stop until 1:30 A.M., pausing only to go to yoga so I could stretch myself out. (I then got up at 5:30 A.M. to do some more baking because I’m dumb/care too much.) I made croissants and pain au chocolat from scratch, linzer heart cookies with homemade raspberry jam, gingerbread cookies that I hand-decorated meticulously (there were 28 gingerbread folk in total!!!), and of course these crinkle cookies, whose kisses I also made myself. It was a tiring twenty four hours, but each element of the holiday treat box came out perfectly. I must say I’m very proud. 🙂

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I healthified/veganized this recipe 100% on my own. Basically, I took a glance at a traditional recipe (loaded with copious amounts of butter and processed ingredients), adjusted some ratios, made some swaps, and VOILA, magic happened. They were so chocolaty, tender, and delicious…I wish I had more than the one I saved for myself. 🙁 Oh well, guess I’ll have to make them again!

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Now, you can use regular chocolate kisses from the store, but I personally prefer to DIY them, simply because I can use much better quality chocolate and keep dairy out of the equation. It’s quite easy, really: all you need is some of your favorite melted chocolate and a kiss mold, and you’re set to go! People will be very impressed when you tell them you made the kisses from scratch. 🙂

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Hugs and kisses from me to you. <3

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies with White + Dark Chocolate Kisses

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 11 min
Total Time 30 min
Yield 18-24 cookies

FOR THE KISSES:

3 ounces of dark chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

3 ounces of white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly (use dairy-free white chocolate to keep it completely vegan)

Chocolate kiss mold

FOR THE COOKIES:

1 1/4 cups of non-hydrogenated palm shortening (I like Spectrum, which is unrefined and organic)

1 1/2 cups of unrefined cane sugar (you can reduce it down to 1 cup, but don’t go any further!), plus more for rolling (not hating)

2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder + 6 tablespoons of water, whisked together in a small bowl

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/4 cups of unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Directions

FOR THE KISSES:

Using a little spoon, layer in white chocolate on the bottom of each slot in the mold, then put a little layer of dark chocolate on top. Keep layering a little bit at a time until you’ve reached the top.

Using a toothpick, gently swirl the white and dark chocolate together, scraping up and down the sides of each mold slot to make the pattern visible.

Chill in the freezer until solid, about 30 minutes. Pop out of the molds and store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to use.

FOR THE COOKIES:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the palm shortening and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in the arrowroot/water mixture and vanilla, then beat on medium for another minute or two more.

In a medium bowl, sift together the whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the mixture 1 cup at a time to the wet ingredients, setting the mixer on low to ensure that you don’t have flour going up in your face.

Once all of the dry ingredients have been added, test the batter. If it holds together pretty well in a ball and doesn’t feel too sticky, you’re good! If it feels a bit too wet, add in another 1/4 cup of pastry flour and see where you’re at. If it feels too dry, add a splash or two of soy or almond milk to keep things moist.

Pour a bit of unrefined cane sugar into a bowl. Using a decent-sized ice cream scoop, take a large scoop of cookie dough and roll it into a sphere with your hands. Drop it in the sugar, roll it around to coat completely, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Pat the top three times gently with your hand and repeat with the remaining cookie dough. (I recommend placing nine to twelve dough balls on each sheet.)

Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes, until they begin to feel firm around the edges. Remove from the oven and promptly kiss each one with a frozen kiss that you prepared. Leave the cookies to hang out at room temperature for 10 minutes, then transfer to the fridge to cool completely so the kisses don’t melt.


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Thank you, reader, for listening to me babble about my life. It’s been a wild year and I’ve had a lot to say about it, haha! You are a beautiful human being and I love you, whoever you are! May your 2016 be filled with happiness, laughter, and light. xoxo

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