My energy level is flickering on and off like a light switch in a thunderstorm. I’m good! I’m getting up! I’m…no. I’m on the couch again, my eyelids heavy and threatening to close. On Monday, I had sinus surgery (nothing scary! not gruesome! as routine as such things can be), so my body is in full recovery mode.
Usually, a few hours of sitting still and I’m jittery and ready to walk somewhere. But today the prospect of staying in one spot makes me feel quiet and content. I have an old, creased novel in hand. It’s been just enough time since reading it the last time that I’ve almost forgotten the plot. Oddly, when I feel sick, re-reading a book is more comforting than reading a new one. It’s covering old territory; revisiting old friends.
The next few days will be gentle ones. I’ll eat a lot of soup, and fix myself milky bowls of oatmeal with a generous pinch of salt in the mornings. It’s funny how much I crave the comfort of food right now, but nothing tastes right. My sense of smell is almost entirely gone, which means taste is dulled and diminished. A spoonful of spicy hot tortilla soup barely registers on my tongue.
If I could really tuck in, here’s what I’d want. I’d start with crostini: crisp toasted rounds of very good bread soaked in olive oil and topped with a creamy burrata cheese and a paper-thin sliver of prosciutto. Then I’d have roast chicken, its skin crackling with butter and herbs, and a mound of mashed potatoes.
Or maybe grits, soft and tender and laced with melting cheddar cheese? Or a perfect cucumber sandwich: toasted baguette, mayonnaise, thinly sliced cucumber, and Jane’s Salt?
I am aching for something other than brothy chicken soup, and sweet baby Jesus, what I wouldn’t give to order a margarita right now.
Without question, I’d have these peppermint sandwich cookies for dessert. And by these, I mean multiple, yes. I have an entire bag stashed in my freezer – and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll go make these yourself tonight. They're a bit labor intensive but very worth it: rich, minty, sweet, and intense. (And yes, there is shortening in them, and you can certainly swap that for butter or something else if you want.)
Go forth, bake, and appreciate your good health and cookie-eating abilities! And eat an extra one for me!
Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies
Adapted from Sift Magazine
For the cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon salt
For the filling
3 tablespoons boiling water
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 cups confectioner's sugar
For the topping
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 teaspoons vegetable shortening
crushed peppermint candies
To make the cookies, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa. Slowly add to the butter mixture and combine but don't overmix. Chill the dough for at least 20 minutes to make it easier to roll out.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roll the cookie dough out to about 1/8" thick (you can do this by dropping the dough in spoonfuls instead of rolling it out, but the cookies won't look as uniform). Using a cookie or biscuit cutter, cut circles out of the dough and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue until you run out of dough.
Bake the cookies for about 12-15 minutes (they should lose their shine entirely). Let cool for 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cookies cool, make the filling. Mix together the boiling water and shortening until a paste forms. Add the mint extract and mix well. Add the confectioner's sugar and mix until it forms a thick paste. Roll this paste out and, using the same size cookie cutter, slice out circles of filling. Place the circles on one cooled cookie, then top with another. Be careful as the cookies are fragile and will break easily!
Melt the semisweet chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler with the shortening. Stir to combine, then dip each sandwich cookie into the melted chocolate so half of the cookie is covered. While still wet, sprinkle crushed candies over the melted chocolate.
Let the cookies sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to set.