I bottle up my emotions—frustration, irritation, worries, and fears. I push them down into the well of my mind, bury them beneath responsibilities and tasks, and wish for them never to surface. At times, I have hidden them so well that they stay below my radar, leaving me with a consistently calm demeanor to put forth to the world. If I pretend I am fine, perhaps I will be fine. It may be flawed logic, but the idea of "faking it until you make it" is not a novel theory. While it may not always be healthy, it is my coping mechanism.
Lately, I have been feeling overwhelmed. Overwhelmed over the length of my to-do list. Overwhelmed at the new projects I have recently taken on. Overwhelmed at how unprepared I am for the holiday season. Overwhelmed at the idea of feeling overwhelmed. So I do as I have always done. I push these emotions down and bury them beneath other work and chores, knowing they will not disappear, but hoping I can cover them up long enough to let the feelings pass. For the most part, it works. I keep my calm at work, and I keep my calm at home.Yet, the feelings must find their way out somehow.
The can opener, of all things, has become my form of therapeutic release.
Less than a year ago, I picked up a cheap can opener at the store to replace the other cheap (but broken) can opener at home. It is, for all purposes, a piece of junk and fails to work more often than succeeds. I battle with the defective can opener often, cursing its rusted gears and inability to cut through metal. I throw tantrums when I struggle with it, describing to the inanimate object exactly how worthless it is and how I will replace it as soon as I get to the store. In the moment, I allow all pretenses to fade away and deal with my emotions directly. Ultimately, I realize the battle is not about canned corn, but about allowing myself to let out the feelings I have been holding in so long.
I am learning, as we all do, how to move through life. Some days (like today) I feel like I do a little more learning than on other days. Maybe, after a bit of practice, I will be able to manage with a bit more elegance and grace and a little less cursing at the canned tomatoes.
Baking is another form of therapeutic release, one that I find both calming and serene. These Almond Espresso Cookies are one of the favorites in my cookie repertoire to both eat and prepare. Almonds are roasted and then ground finely to form the base of the cookies. Chocolate is drizzled over the top, with a little espresso powder mixed in the cookie to complement the flavor. It is a simple cookie, but the flavors are addicting enough to keep me coming back for more. As the holiday season grows closer, these are a simple enough treat to create, but still unique enough to leave an impression at your holiday table.
One Year Ago: Cranberry Upside Down Cake
Two Years Ago: Maple Roasted Chickpeas, Gingerbread Muffins, Persimmon Cake, and Lemon Cranberry Scones
Three Years Ago: Banana Espresso Chocolate Muffins, Cranberry Orange Brioche Rolls, Cranberry Sauce, and Cranberry White Chocolate Tarts
Four Years Ago: Chocolate Espresso Pots de Creme, Sugar-Coated Daydreams, Blueberry Brownies, and White Chocolate Saffron Truffles
Almond Espresso Cookies with Chocolate Glaze
Yields about 12-18 cookies
Almond Espresso Cookies
6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional
1 1/2 cups (187 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (85 grams) almonds, roasted and finely ground*
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and almond extract until smooth. Gradually add the flour, finely ground roasted almonds, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring until batter is uniform.
Drop by the tablespoon onto a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
1/2 cup (85 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon (14 grams) butter
In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate chips and butter over low heat until smooth. Transfer to a pastry bag (or small plastic bag with the corner snipped off) and drizzle the warm chocolate over the cookies. Allow to set for 30 minutes to harden the chocolate before serving.
*To roast almonds, spread into a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) until tan and fragrant.