26 December 2016

Don't Let Your Fears Get in Your Way (plus recipe: Spinach, Zucchini, Whole Wheat Cookies with White Chocolate)

When I started promising to make any kind of cookies requested by the missionaries who sent me letters, I fully expected that the requests would be for their favorite cookies that they missed from home. Traditional varieties, like chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, or even oatmeal raisin. But some of my favorite missionaries have taken my challenge as an opportunity to push me beyond my comfort zone - to see where my cookie-creation limits are.

My little brother, when he was serving a mission in Ireland, requested a fruitcake-inspired cookie that was such a big hit, I've been kicking myself ever since for not writing down the recipe as I went along. (These days, I almost always write down my recipe attempts, so I can recreate the cookies if they work ... or so that I know what to tweak if they don't. Because it's not often that you get to say the fruitcake was the hit of the party!) And until recently, my brother's fruitcake cookie was the most difficult recipe challenge I'd ever faced. But now, word has spread among the missionaries in the Baltimore, MD mission ... and the young men and women serving in our area have decided to try to stump me.

I have to admit, I'm really enjoying the regular letters from missionaries (some of whom I know personally, and others that I haven't actually met yet), and I have a lot of fun creating cookies to fit their wacky whims. One of the biggest challenges I've received so far was from Sister Bullock (who fit so well into our family that I still think of her as one of my adopted children, even though she transferred out of our immediate area a few months ago).
Sister Bullock, getting a bagpipes lesson when she came to our house for dinner one evening
She asked me to make cookies with zucchini, spinach, whole wheat, and white chocolate. Because she was certain that I'd never be able to do it, and she wanted to be the one who could brag about stumping me and winning my challenge.

I'll admit, I was a little bit panicky. Because I knew I could make a spinach, zucchini, whole wheat cookie with white chocolate, and I was pretty confident that I could even make one that I would enjoy. Because I usually prefer the "healthy options" in a variety of recipes. But I really didn't think I'd be able to combine all of those ingredients in a cookie that was delicious enough to tickle the tastebuds of the typical kid next door. And I don't consider my recipes a success unless those picky, won't-touch-a-vegetable taste-testers like it too.

But it worked! The cookies went quickly, and everyone agreed that I should have made a bigger batch.

Not surprisingly, those who knew the ingredient list before tasting the cookies were hesitant to try them. A lot of my taste testers had to be coaxed and coerced by those who had already taken the plunge. And a few of my regular tasters never did get the courage to try. But without exception, those who tried the cookies without first knowing what was in them came back for seconds or thirds.

Sometimes, we get so caught up in our own expectations that we miss out on the fabulous things life has waiting for us. It helps when we have friends and mentors to push us out of our comfort zones, but sometimes you just have to close our eyes and take a bite out of life. Who knows? You might find a new favorite recipe.

Whole Wheat, Spinach and Zucchini Cookies with White Chocolate Drizzle
You will need:

1/2 c. butter (softened)
2/3 c. brown sugar
2 egg whites (or 1 egg)
1 c. grated zucchini
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. shredded spinach
2 c. whole wheat flour (or 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour)
3 oz. white chocolate, chopped

Place zucchini in a strainer, and press with a clean paper towel to strain liquid out, until you have only 1/2 c. zucchini. (If you don't drain the liquid, your cookies will be too mushy.)

Cream together butter and sugar, until light and fluffy. 

Beat in egg, zucchini, spinach, baking powder, and salt.

Stir in flour. Then, drop by teaspoonful onto a greased, or parchment-lined, baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned on bottom.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt white chocolate (in the microwave: zap for 30 seconds, stir, then microwave for 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each, until melted). Drizzle over the top of the cooled cookies. Chill 10-15 minutes to set the chocolate, then serve.

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