Today was one of those days when a wave of relief swept over me after finishing a chemistry quiz and all I wanted to do was sit back and be sentimental. By which I mean watch Katherine Hepburn’s “Summertime” and play love songs on the piano with my snoring pug and a box of tissues. And also look through old yearbooks, my middle school diaries, and wince at the quality of the first essays I ever wrote. That is…fake sentimentality.
The real stuff happens when you sit in the middle of your room doing nothing, but listening to Enya. And you are at such peace that you absentmindedly start humming “Only Time” and end up with a big fat grin on your face. It’s what I call a “mind-lift”. People in this world are in more need of “mind-lifts” than face-lifts.
Mind-lifts come in so many forms. A best friend is one of them. J– came over on Saturday afternoon and rescued me from the little hole of homework I had welled myself in and made these abbracci cookies with me. Abbracci translates from Italian to something to the effect of “hug”. Hugging cookies. Isn’t that just sweet? It’s named that because the chocolate and vanilla doughs are literally hugging. I bought a bag of these from the little market one block away from our hotel in Florence. Turns out randomly grabbing bags of cookies off the shelf wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
Biting into a warm fresh-baked batch of cookies is also a mindlift. These cookies are so perfect to make with a best friend or a sweetie of yours. (hint: Valentine’s Day idea?) Oh speaking of Valentine’s Day…cupid has aimed his arrow at drugstores and supermarkets around the nation already. Don’t get me wrong. I like Valentine’s Day. It is a very sweet holiday. But it is only mid-January and I walk into a Bartell’s with J– to buy Corn Nuts (because all college kids worship that stuff) and some Trolli candy and I am blinded by pink teddy bears and chocolates and paper-cutout-cupids dangling from the ceiling.
Somebody please save me.
And “Sweethearts”? Those candies nauseate me because I have had a traumatic experience that involved eating so many of them that I threw them all up. So if I even smell those, I start to turn green. Not pleasant in the least bit.
On the other hand, Halloween is one of those holidays that I never get tired of. A good old scare never gets old, does it? That is the point of Halloween after all (NOT for girls to put a “naughty” in front of any person/thing/animal they can think of and dress up as that).
Naughty Darth Vader? Naughty Teletubbie? Naughty fork? Well I haven’t seen the latter before, but I have seen a naughty Darth Vader and, believe me, Annikin Skywalker would not approve.
Abbracci Cookies (Adapted from Seriously Italian)
– makes 2 dozen cookies –
1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¾ cup (12 tablespoons, or 1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons dutch-processed, unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons milk
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, starch, baking powder, salt and nutmeg and set aside.
2. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and ½ cup of the sugar together on medium speed for 1 minute, until the butter is creamy and light. Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla, scraping down the sides, until the mixture is smooth and fluffy, about another minute.
3. Beat in the flour mixture for 30 seconds, stopping once to scrape down the sides. Gather all the dough together in a mass in one corner of the bowl, and with a spatula, scoop out half of it onto a piece of plastic wrap.
4. Add the cocoa powder, the last tablespoon of sugar, and the milk to the remaining dough in the bowl and beat well, until it is completely uniform in color, about 45 seconds. Scrape the chocolate dough onto another piece of plastic wrap. Wrap both doughs and freeze them until slightly firmer (~30 minutes).
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare two baking sheets by greasing and lining them with parchment paper.
6. To form the abbracci, take 1/2 tbs of each type of dough, roll them into logs and wrap them together (in a hug!). To form the ying-yang, add two spot of opposite color dough on each side of the dough.
7. Arrange the abbracci about an inch apart on the baking sheets
8. Before baking, stick the baking sheets in the freezer for about 15 minutes (just to firm them up a little) and bake for 13 to 17 minutes, rotating the pans after 10 minutes. The cookies are done when they are firm and dry to the touch, and the vanilla dough is just turning golden at the edges.
9. Cool the cookies on the pans for about five minutes, then gently slide them onto a rack to cool completely. Store them up to a week in an airtight container.
I always have a tendency to digress. I should probably fix it.
In the end, these cookies turned out to be sort of “Everything nice” cookies. We made them into Ying-yangs, peace signs, a strange moustache man (not pictured), and even stranger…a cartoon flower.
Wow…do you guys see the extent of our imaginative minds? We were also supplemented by excessive jumping to J–‘s iPod, the aftermath of some hilarious Glee Karaoke, and the ongoing game of some classic Mario Karts.