Today had a rough start. I was forced into having a frank discussion this morning with my daughter that left me in tears while sitting at breakfast. Crying over my egg whites is generally not the way I like to begin my mornings but when you have an 11 year old; sometimes that is just the way it goes. We have been struggling a lot in this house lately and I’m sure Emma’s emotional response is in direct proportion to the way I handle things. I allow people to push me in my life until I get to a point where I can no longer take it and then I cut them off. This type of reaction has left me with a pile full of regrets. I’m also very good at masking my emotions. When people die, I tend to show the world that I simply moved on, when in fact, I am pulling myself apart inside trying to figure out how this person I loved is no longer in my life. One of the people I never speak of is my father, whose death was incredibly hard on me. More than I wanted to admit to myself or to those around me. But I have decided that loss doesn’t have to feel so permanent and the last few weeks I have pulled out photos of him and actually put them out for others to see. Josh, until very recently, had never even seen a picture of my father and I have tried over the course of our marriage to limit the information. Why? I don’t know. Seems silly now.
My father was a big nut person. Pecans were his favorite but hazelnuts took a close second. The only thing he could bake in the whole world was pie. But let me tell you, his pies were life changing. The texture, the flavor, the crispy crust, the crunchy pecans, the perfectly done apples….I mean….these pies would leave you longing for more. As a child, I would dream about his pies. Thanksgiving felt more like Christmas because it meant I could have a slice of my favorite, pecan pie. The best part was, no limits. Dad’s southern roots meant that “no” wasn’t in his vocabulary when it came to food. Sometimes, at 3 in the morning, when he couldn’t sleep, I would join him for a slice of pie and we would talk about life. He had a difficult childhood and his only hope was to make my brother and I happy. I find that broken people try the hardest but make the most mistakes. However, I have reconciled all the dust and have only happy memories of him.
Family, is whatever road you choose to pave for yourself. There are no rules and there are very few victories. People are universally damaged and we do the best we can not to hurt one another but sometimes it’s inevitable. I think the biggest take-a-way from the past five years is when it comes to family; you must make allowances. A critical way of being won’t produce anything positive. We have to accept the faults we are born with or manifest over time and move on. After all, our time here is temporary. Love does conquer all–so let as much into your heart as you can.
I sat down and had a cup of coffee in one of Nana’s teacups and admired a picture of my father holding me during my Baptism. He was a handsome man who was filled with passion. Everything I know, everything I am and everything I will ever be is deeply rooted in his genetics. This afternoon, I am thankful for that. And, I can only hope that one day my daughter will feel the same way about me.
Now on to the recipe.
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
11 tablespoons room temperature butter
1 vanilla bean
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
8 oz. melted 60% cocoa chocolate chips
ground hazelnuts and cocoa nibs to finish (totally options)
Place the sugar and the butter in a mixing bowl and beat on med-high until light and fluffy. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the bowl. Gradually beat in the eggs on low speed until well incorporated. Gently fold in the flour, cocoa powder and ground hazelnuts with a metal spoon. (a rubber spatula will not do the trick) Do not overwork the dough as it will drastically change the resulting cookie. Working the dough only as necessary will ensure a light, crispy cookie. Bring the dough together into a ball and place in the refrigerator for one hour. Preheat oven to 325, flour the surface of your counter and roll out the dough. Using a cookie cutter, cut out 15-20 cookies and place on a baking sheet. Cook for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Toss your chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and heat on low for 1-2 minutes, stopping often and stirring the chocolate. Do not heat until the chips are all melted. Take out when they are still a tiny bit lumpy and stir until smooth. Continue stirring an additional minute. This will protect the chocolate and prevent overeating. Dip each cookie once cooled in the melted chocolate and garnish as desired.