great thought, wrong day

Yesterday was National Chocolate Day. Now, normally, this would be an exciting thing for me. Chocolate comes right before lemon, cheese, and raspberries in the hierarchy of things that taste really good, and right after . . . um . . . nothing. Nothing at all, that rational people can think of.

However, to put this momentous holiday three days after Christmas is ill-conceived torture. Perhaps the framers thought, “Oh, we have just celebrated the most glorious and important day of the year. It deserves the very best.” (The very best being, as far as I am concerned, milk-chocolate covered marzipan, but that is, I realize, completely subjective.) “We have purchased lots of chocolate for it. Let’s all celebrate that fact and eat it with abandon.”

Only, here’s the problem. We have already eaten it with abandon. So much so that, in the words of our pastor last Sunday, “I feel like I need to go on a lettuce and water purge for three days.” No one wants to look at chocolate any more on the third day after Christmas. What were they thinking? But, in the hopes that you, as I, will again look chocolate in the face one day and tell it, “Welcome back, my long missed but never forgotten love of my life,” I offer up some observations on chocolate, as well as my two best recipes for cookies that use it.

First, chocolate is a strong weapon of love. I started dating my husband because he sent me a box of fudge in the mail over summer break. Homemade fudge. By his own hands. OK, maybe there were other reasons, and I probably would not have married him if his only claim to supremacy was the ability to turn chocolate chips and evaporated milk into the food of gods, but it was a strong incentive. If no better offers turned up, it might have been enough to sway the vote.

Second, white chocolate . . .isn’t. No matter what they call it. It’s a disgusting wannabe. End of discussion.

Third, chocolate really ought to be tried as a peace incentive. I mean, look at the world. Where do we get our finest chocolate? Switzerland and Belgium. And what are those people like? They never get into wars. When was the last time you read about a big shoot up in Belgium? And the Swiss reputation for peaceful coexistence is almost as legendary as the French reputation for snooty cooking and saying things to Americans like, “your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberry.”

So, I say, rather than offer these people in the Middle East and North Korea silly things like international friendship and IPhone technology, tell them that, if they are good for one whole year, each resident will receive twenty pounds of chocolate, duty-free. Given what most North Koreans probably have to eat, I think this would be a huge incentive. (I’ve tasted Chinese chocolate, however. We must not offer that to anyone. We want to make friends, remember? Got to go for the pricey, good stuff.) I’m seeing a huge missed opportunity for Hillary.

Any other suggestions? Your favorite recipes? Here are mine:

Chocolate Glazed Shortbread Cookies

1 C. butter
1 C. powdered sugar
2 C. flour
21C. ground almonds (you can find them already ground)
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar. Gradually add flour. Stir in the almonds. Chill dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Form 1 T. dough into a 2 inch long roll. Cut in half lengthwise and place cut side down on a ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until a pale golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Melt chocolate. Dip one end of cookie into chocolate. Cool on wax paper until set.

Makes 5-6 dozen

Chocolate Raspberry Spritz Cookies

3 oz unsweetened chocolate
3/4 C. Butter or margarine, softened
1 C. Sugar
1/2 t. Salt
1 Egg
1/2 C. Raspberry preserves
1 t Vanilla extract
3 C. All-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt unsweetened chocolate.

In large mixer bowl, beat butter, sugar, and salt until creamy. Blend in egg, preserves, and vanilla extract, then melted chocolate. Gradually beat in flour. Put dough in cookie press. Press onto ungreased cookie sheets. Decorate.

Bake 8-10 minutes until set. Let stand 1 minute. Remove from cookie sheets; cool completely.

Makes 8 dozen cookies.

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