"What are you doing tomorrow? More importantly, what are you making?"
As I read Ali's email, I felt the beginning inklings of guilt. The very inklings I'd been ignoring for weeks as everyone else compared notes on whether to brine their turkeys or use cornbread in their stuffing or make sweet potato or pumpkin pie. I'd done a sufficiently good job of pretending like none of it mattered to me -- even defiantly defiling a traditionally decadent side dish by drowning it with quinoa and vegetation. I was laughing in the face of Thanksgiving and all it represented. I was refusing to participate in the over-the-top displays of gluttony and over-extended waistlines.
But then there it was in front of me.
"What are you making?"
I retracted from the keyboard on my computer. How could I tell Ali that I wasn't doing anything special -- that I was going to make the same Brussels sprouts salad I made last year on the day that should be my cooking Olympics. I couldn't tell her that my great Thanksgiving kitchen plan was to drain the contents of a bottle of wine while my parents and brothers slaved over the mashed potatoes, turkey and a disturbingly giblet-heavy gravy.
It's not that I hate Thanksgiving or slaving; I just hate (most) Thanksgiving food. And feel no desire to spend any time attending to that which I have no desire to personally ingest. I was going to make Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts that are not cloaked in bacon fat, that are not overloaded with butter, and that take less than 30 minutes to pull together.
"What are you making?"
I asked it of myself this time. Because deep down, buried underneath my hatred for green bean casserole and overly sweetened sweet potatoes, I secretly wanted to do something. Something different. Something seasonal, but not cliched. Spice krinkle cookies with chewy dried apricot bits and slivers of chocolate.
I baked them as soon as I got home yesterday, even braving the grocery store to get the $9 jar of ground cloves necessary for the recipe. I ignored the price tag. Just like I ignored the voice in my head that said that my 2 1/2 year old niece would declare them, "Too spiiicy!" and my brothers would likely shudder at the mention of the dried apricot.
But it didn't matter. I was baking them for me.
For my personal cooking Olympics. And for a Thanksgiving indulgence that's actually worth the over-the-top display of gluttony -- and the over-extended belly that goes with it.
Spice Krinkles with Dried Apricots and Dark Chocolate
A recipe mash-up of Amanda Hesser's Spice Krinkles in The New York Times Essential Cookbook and Heidi Swanson's Ginger Cookies in Super Natural Every Day
Notes: These cookies are everything I love in a ginger cookie - chewy and soft, and redolent with spices. The dried apricots and dark chocolate add additional dimension and texture. I made half the batch plain and half with the apricots and chocolate and after tasting the latter couldn't be bothered to sample the plain.
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 room temperature egg
1/4 cup unsulphered molasses
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
6 ounces 60% cacoa chocolate, finely chopped or shaved
Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, beat softened butter with brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and beat together until well-incorporated, approximately 2 minutes.
Sift together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Gradually add to the butter-sugar mixture, stirring on the lowest speed. Stir until just combined, then add the apricots and chocolate, and stir for a couple beats more to incorporate.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place a good half cup or so of the granulated sugar in a flat bowl. Roll the dough into (shelled) walnut-sized balls. Roll through the sugar until coated on all sides. Once all cookies for that batch have been coated in sugar, re-roll them in the sugar. (The first roll of sugar usually partially dissolves into the dough so if you double roll the cookie, the second layer of sugar will remain on the outside.)
Place cookies two inches a part on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes (mine took around 8 minutes) or until just set and the tops are just starting to crack. Let sit 2 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before serving or storing.