Kwanzaa Culinarians 2014: Cacao Benne Cookies

Cacao Benne Cookies

Make a pot of tea or coffee, light a candle, grab a comfortable seat, and plate a few cacao benne (pronounced “benny”) cookies. How was your year? Since the time I’ve learned 14 isn’t my favorite number, I’ve cautiously waited for the year of 2014. It’s a painfully honest number. And, when the clock turned 2014 in the midnight hour on January first, I said a silent prayer. God help us. And, as I’ve imaged, this year is a roller coaster of emotions. Russia. Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ebola in West Africa. Mike Brown and other victims of the police. Family members passing. By the time summer arrived, my stomach was jumping to the tune of “War” sung by The Temptations. Since the beginning of human relationships, I’m sure there’s a country or region involved in a war somewhere around the globe. Perhaps, due to my sensitivity to 14, this year’s wars and conflicts deeply troubled me. It’s 2014 communicating, “War… What is it good for?… absolutely nothing…”

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Never Forget these Pecan Bars

Pecan Bars

Potato Chips, fruity and hard candies, twirly sugar sticks, chewy caramels, salty pretzels and raw nuts were not my childhood friends. Among the most offending taste were raw nuts. The taste of peanuts are what I image wood to taste like, but I love peanut butter. And, I will never understand people’s obsession with salted sunflower seeds as they spit speckled shells onto subway train floors. Then there’s the pecans. They’re a different nut.

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Cardamon Snickerdoodles

It’s the various spices that define holiday baking with cinnamon being the most common of them all. Next to beautifully adored butter cookies, simple snickerdoodles rolled in cinnamon and sugar are one of my favorite cookies because of its soft and chewy texture. In this recipe, coconut sugar replaces white sugar for a less sweetened and a hint of caramel flavor. While white-whole wheat flour is tossed with all-purpose white flour for a slightly healthier treat. The other change? Cardamon replaces cinnamon for a different sweet and spicy flavor. Along with cinnamon, it’s a spice redefining the holidays among adventurous bakers.

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Appetizing Thoughts: The Now and Future of First Fresh Olive Oil

Saffron Olive Oil Cookies with Blood Orange Glaze

In 2011, Bill Sanders of First Fresh Olive Oil was interviewed, in which he demystified olive oil and promoted the launch of a kickstarter campaign raising money to start a private label selling quality olive oil in the United States at competitive prices. Since successfully raising the funds, he has garnered two outstanding industry recognized awards, crossed the country to introduce his peppery tasting olive oil by offering tastings and learned a few start-up marketing lessons. In this follow up interview, he explains his future goals, inspiration from a recent Sicilian trip for First Fresh Olive Oil and why using olive oil in desserts is better, especially for the recipe—Saffron Olive Oil Cookies with Blood Orange Glaze —at the end of the interview. 
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Vanilla Wafer Cookies for Megan Gordon’s Banana Pudding from “A Sweet Spoonful”

Banana Pudding with Sugar Cookies
Banana Pudding with Sugar Cookies

The original plan was to make Almond Salty Butter cookies for a boxing match. Then this recipe appeared in the twitter feed. It blew the little cookies away. Besides, the boyfriend loves bananas. His younger sister is hosting a fabulous party, and we showed up empty handed at her last event. So, this recipe is a delicious adaption from Megan Gordon’s Banana Pudding from “A Sweet Spoonful.”  The least I could do is make a Simple Sugar Cookie recipe to contribute to this dish. The pudding is incredible, because it’s not from an instant mix, and it’s using real whipped cream. Megan’s blog is full of other beautiful recipes, too. Her recent post, “Throwing in the Towel,” is appropriately named for this weekend’s boxing match. It’s content is unrelated to the sport, but it’s nice to hear about another topic that doesn’t include the words: boxing, Floyd Mayweather, Shane Mosely, sports and Las Vegas. Thanks, Megan for sharing a girly recipe amid this testosterone day.

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