It seems like everything is coming together this month. I smashed my two-hour half-marathon goal. My experiments at work are starting to suggest a new story of sorts, one that is weird and interesting and might be real. I don’t know—there’s more work to be done, for sure, and I’m a die-hard skeptic about my own data, so we shall see. And I am feeling so happy and so in love with Matt that it surprises me. Our visits no longer feel rich with drama and anticipation. Instead of fireworks and dramatic reunions, there’s a quieter sense of happiness, of deep friendship and affection, of knowing him and being known by him. Sometimes I long for those early days when I was overtaken by the giddy joy of seeing him again, but I think I love him more now. I feel more grown-up, and I think my love for him has grown up too.
Despite all that, I hope I won’t shock you when I say I’m glad he’s not here with me this weekend. We had two visits in a short period of time, one in February when he was in town for business and one last weekend when he was in town for fun. I feel spoiled, getting to spend so much time with him lately. His visits are always so nice because he is good company. In February, we took a Thursday off and enjoyed the rare pleasure of a weekday vacation. We had a slow morning together, talking on the couch in our pajamas. Eventually, our hungry bellies started talking to us, so we walked to Boston’s for pizza, and I remember looking at him across the table and telling him his eyes looked beautiful, which they did. The pizzas were delicious, and for dessert, we got coffees at It’s a Grind and sat by the fire, lounging like lizards in front of its cozy warmth. Later, we went ice skating, talking and laughing as we glided around the rink. For dinner, Matt made us a lentil soup, and we drank wine and kept talking until my eyelids were heavy. I kissed him good-night, and the next day, I kissed him good-bye until next time.
That next time was last weekend, which was a blur of meals and driving and running 13.1 miles in less than two hours. We had no slow day together, which makes me sad because those days are the best. We did have a leisurely dinner at The Lemon Wedge, where one of Matt’s favorite musicians happened to be playing (surprise!), and it was pretty nice to have other people feeding us on Saturday. And seeing him at the finish line after Sunday’s half-marathon was amazing. He didn’t mind hugging my sweaty, smelly self, who was just glowing with happiness. For the two hours that I was running, he entertained himself by playing golf and then going to a coffeeshop to work. I love that he feels comfortable enough around College Station that now, even without me, he knows how to get to the golf course and which coffeshops have the best coffee or the best ambiance for a little early-morning work.
I could go on and on about Matt, but like I said, he’s not here now and it’s not even a secret that I’m happy to be alone this weekend. I miss him, of course, but I like the silence and the freedom that accompanies a solo weekend. I like having time to savor the thought of him, to anticipate the next visit, to write about our visits and remember how pretty his eyes looked in the sunlight on that cold February day. I also relish the chance to do things without considering his opinion. Take Friday night, for example. After a dinner of leftover black bean salad, dessert was me, a mug of orange tea, a Whip It DVD, and a chocolate raspberry cookie. Of those four things, I think Matt would have enjoyed me and the DVD of hot girls on roller skates. The herbal tea and the fruity cookie? Eh, not so much.
But he’s missing out. That cookie is delicious in a deep, fudgy kind of way. The flavor is complex, a harmonious and sophisticated combination of cocoa, raspberry, and almond extract. The recipe calls for an entire teaspoon of almond extract, which might alarm you, but it really works. Unless you don’t like almond extract, in which case I think you could leave it out altogether and still have a wonderful, fudgy-cakey vegan cookie.
Which brings me to my next point: the texture! I love the texture of these cookies. They are soft and sturdy, with a crumb that melts in your mouth. Using raspberry preserves was an inspired way to make a vegan cookie that is both incredibly flavorful and has a wonderful texture. I bet this recipe could be used as a template to make chocolate apricot cookies by substituting apricot preserves for the raspberry ones, but I haven’t tried that yet. Or you could try strawberry, which, now that I’ve thought of it, I might try next because I’m on a chocolate-and-strawberries kick right now. In any case, these cookies were a mighty fine dessert on Friday, and I’d be happy to have them coming out of my oven all summer long.
Chocolate Raspberry Cookies
From Veganomicon via Chrissy’s blog, The New Me
A word on the yield here: other bakers say this recipes makes 24 cookies, but I only got 16 out of my batch. I also made fairly large, thick cookies using roughly golf-ball sized balls of dough, so if you like daintier cookies, make yours smaller.
Another variation to try: adding a handful of chocolate chips! The texture of these cookies is already a little fudgy, but a chocolate cookie with melty chocolate chips is hard to beat. With all these possible variations in mind, I think I’ve got my work cut out for me.
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
1 cup sugar (I used vanilla-infused sugar here)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two cookie sheets with nonstick spray.
2) In a small mixing bowl, mix together the raspberry preserves, sugar, oil, and extracts until well combined.
3) In a larger mixing bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt.
4) Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ones in three batches. Using a wooden spoon, keep working the wet into the dry. At the end, it might look like the dough is getting too dry, but hang in there and keep creaming everything together to make a thick dough.
5) Roll the dough into large balls (golf-ball sized or about 1.5 inches in diameter) and place them on the cookie sheet. Use your palm to flatten the ball into a thick disk. The cookies only need to be spaced about half an inch apart because they don’t spread during baking. I was able to fit eight cookies per sheet on my large cookie sheets.
6) Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes. Remove the cookies from their sheet and let them cool completely on a rack. These cookies will keep perfectly for at least four days at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.