Sometimes I wonder if I was born with some sort of a masochistic streak in me! Maybe I didn’t come this way, but acquired one in the past 4-5 years. I used to be a terribly lazy bum (a teacher at school used to refer to me as ‘born lazy’). Of course I never took her seriously, then one consistent class-topper that I had suddenly started hanging around with, told me one day, “You are so intelligent but so lazy!”. That was news to me, then I received similar feedback from other toppers in my class. And instead of working hard (which was the context for the comment), I just got all smug that the toppers thought I was bright.
My mum had serious concerns of my house-keeping skills. She was shocked and proud to see a pretty well-maintained house and a really neat kitchen when she first came home after I was married. She couldn’t get over it for quite some time. My SIL then burst her balloon of pride, when she told her that, it was easy to keep a neat kitchen when I hardly cooked! Guess I didn’t need anymore convincing about my inherently lazy nature.
Cut to the last 4-5 years when I seem to be working to over-compensate for the lazy life of my god-knows-how-many-lazy years. It’s not as if someone’s giving me work or putting a gun to my head or I have a spouse who wants to see me on my toes. I just seem to invent more and more work to justify my existence. Yes my life situation has changed and what we were doing demanded that kind of hard-work, but I end up taking a long and convoluted route always.
How else can I explain why I took up the marathon task of blanching 500 gms of almonds, painfully removing each of their skins, toasting and then grinding them on a morning when I had to drive Dave to the hospital a good 30-35 kms (one-way) away for a check-up? I had to leave home at 10 am to ensure everything went as per schedule. My In-laws over coming over in the afternoon, so I had to be back home by then. Some friends/relatives were going to come over late in the afternoon. Their child was on a gluten & lactose-free diet, so if I had to bake something, it had to be that. This was the third hectic day in a series of days when we had moved back home and the 4th item I was baking. Once we were back home, I raced to have lunch (thoughfully brought my by Ma-in-law), cleaned the kitchen, do some dishes and scream orders at the husband to fold those clothes before baking those cookies. While I was doing the dishes my MIL came over rubbed my back and said, “this is why you are getting a back ache. Why do you need to make anything, just serve them what we have at home.” I half-agreed with her and didn’t understand what was driving me to do this, especially because the cookie dough was tough and wasn’t coming together easily. I added more melted chocolate to it than recommended in the recipe to bind it together. Finally cut some cookies from that dough and put them in for baking (and the remaining batter away in the fridge), they seemed to be baking well, two extra minutes in the oven and they were charred! I took a deep-breath, discarded those and then repeated the procedure to cut more cookies and put them in the oven. This time they were good. I slathered some melted chocolate on them and put them in the fridge, before I rushed to the garden to pluck some fresh-Spinach for my MIL.
5.30 pm in the evening, our guests arrived, and when I was offering the cookies to the kid, her parents reminded me that she couldn’t have stuff that had gluten in it, in fact they had brought her Chocolate-Soy-Milk with them. I told them that this one didn’t have any flour in it, what about butter? No butter either. The mom approved and let the kid have the cookie. The child quietly licked the chocolate off the cookies, intermittently nibbling on them with her tiny teeth for 45 minutes before going into the garden. She was still nibbling on another one when she left an hour later. Sigh!
I packed her some and made another batch for her the week after, this time with white-chocolate.
And also those where my friends lavish me with thoughtful gifts that fuel my passion.
Maybe I was never lazy, just uninspired!
Here’s the original recipe for the cookies, and here’s mine with some minor tweaks:
What you will need:
- 100g candied ginger, chopped
- 500g ground almonds
- 400g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 350g Castor sugar
- 100g icing sugar
- 100g dark/white chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2 egg whites
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- Pinch of salt
How you make them:
- Place 250g dark chocolate in a double boiler/microwave and melt until smooth and let them cool.
- In a large bowl, add the ground almonds, icing sugar, cardamom, sugar, salt, chopped candied ginger and the remaining chocolate. Pour the melted chocolate and the egg whites and mix together until it comes together into a smooth dough.This will take time and patience.
- Pre-heat the oven to 220 degree centingrade
- Roll out the dough about 2 cm thick. With a cookie cutter, cut them into the desired shapes.
- Place the cookies on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, 2 cm apart.
- Bake for about 4-5 minutes. Watch them closely as even a minute more can char them.
- Melt the 100g dark/white chocolate in a double boiler/microwave. Slather a little melted chocolate on one side of the baked cookies and allow to set in the refregirator.
- To store, place the cooled and dried cookies in boxes layered with parchment paper.