12 January 2024

KidLit Confections: Cilantro Lime Cookies vs. Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cookies (aka: We Need Diverse Books)

close-up photo of chocolate cookies with chocolate chips on the left, a photo of green cookies with gold sprinkles on the right
(The recipes, including a link to the index of printable PDF files, can be found at the bottom of this post.)

Ah, January. That time when we collectively resolve to change everything about ourselves in order to fit the mold we think everyone else wants us to cram ourselves into. Isn't it magical?  wonderful??  absolutely terrifying?

Ugh!! Stop. This isn't a post about my New Year's Resolutions. Because I don't believe goals should wait until January 1st to begin. We can set new goals and look forward to achieving new milestones every single day. Give yourself a year to work on them, if you want, but who says that year has to start on January 1st? (The US government starts their fiscal year in October. Who says you can't start your goal-setting year in May? Or February? Or September?)    Goals are better than Resolutions. Goals give us something to work toward. Resolutions are all about the things we're trying to get away from. And I'd rather embrace the good and build on my strengths than focus on the negative, which has never worked for me anyway.  I said so, and this is my blog, so I get to make the rules!

I've been thinking about this post for weeks. Trying to come up with the perfect words to share my new project. But trying to find the perfect words has kept me from moving forward, so I'm just jumping in!!

Presenting: #KidLitConfections

KidLit Confections in bold text above a cartoon penguin, sitting on a stack of books and reading THE PRINCESS AND THE FROGS by Veronica Bartles and Sara Palacios. A cartoon hippo in a chef's hat and apron, holding a tray of freshly-baked cookies, stands next to her. Artwork by Philip Bartles
New (and sometimes previously-shared, but often recently-revised) recipes for delicious cookies, pies, and other desserts (as well as some savory treats, if I feel like it!!) paired with the book(s) I'm reading these days and why I love them. Featuring super-cute artwork by my artist husband, Philip Bartles

For this inaugural #KidLitConfections post, I wanted to find the perfect books to highlight to really kick this off right. But the more I thought about the books I've read recently...and the books I've read not-so-recently...and the books that touched my soul so deeply that they helped to shape me into the person I am today... I realized that there really isn't a "perfect" book (or even a group of books) to kick things off with. (But I do have a growing list of book recommendations on my bookshop.org lists, if you're looking for something fabulous to read!)

Because the most wonderful thing about dessert is that there are so many different kinds (even if you narrow it down to just one category of desserts--like my favorite, cookies). You can find examples to fit almost every flavor preference...and if it doesn't exist yet, the perfect recipe can be created! Chances are, everyone you know has a favorite dessert. And chances are also pretty high that many of the people you know have a different favorite than you. But when we share our favorite treats with each other, we not only grow closer in those shared experiences, but we get a little taste (quite literally) of what makes the other person who they are.

That's also the most wonderful thing about books. There are stories about so many different experiences. Tales from every culture and point of view. And when we share those perspectives with each other through our books and stories, we get a little taste (metaphorically speaking) of what makes "them" special. (Because as much as we want to pretend we can ignore an "us vs. them" mindset, those who are honest with ourselves will admit that we cannot help but see those who are unfamiliar as "them" or "other.") And if the books that contain these "other" stories aren't published yet (perhaps YOUR experience is one that is missing from the big picture!), there is always room on the bookshelf for more. Sadly, the world sometimes fights against the need for these books, but make no mistake: we need all of the stories. Because all voices matter. All experiences matter. All people matter. Even you. Even me. Even "them."

We need these diverse books, just as much as we need diversity in our dessert menu. Not just because you would personally miss them if the world didn't have your favorite chocolate chip cookies. Or gingerbread. Or flan. Not just because people (especially children!) need to be able to see themselves represented in the books they find on the library shelves. This variety is also important because desserts are a fun way to explore new flavors, and because books are an essential way to discover new outlooks. You might miss out on a new favorite treat if you never get to experience the sweet nuttiness of baklava or the syrupy, creamy decadence of gulab jamun. And you might miss a connection with that neighbor who seems a little different or fail to appreciate the beauty of your best friend's cultural celebrations if you never have a chance to explore the world through their perspectives. 

You might, like me, discover something new about yourself. I was in my 40s before I discovered, though reading things written by autistic authors (and then going through testing and consultation with first a therapist and then a psychiatrist for confirmation--although I absolutely believe self-diagnosis is perfectly valid for neurodivergence) that I am autistic too. And as soon as I discovered that I was autistic, so many things in my life just clicked into place. Suddenly, the world made sense in a way it never had. But I would never have even looked if I didn't have the opportunity to explore the world through a voice I thought would be completely separate and "other" from my own.

You might, like so many others, discover that the "other" voices you're experiencing in the stories you read truly are different and unique from your own perspective. (Not every story is yours, and that's okay!) But in stepping into that POV for a moment, until you hit "The End" and close the book, you may discover that the "other" you dreaded, or even detested, is not so different from you after all. You may discover common ground that allows you to form deep and lasting friendships. And they might be able to understand you better as well.

Not every story is for every person. You may pick up a book and discover by the end of chapter one that it simply isn't for you. That's okay. Put it back on the shelf for the person who needs it. But it's important to keep sampling new and different things from time to time. And to make space on the shelf for those stories that haven't yet been told (or that aren't told enough)! Because ultimately, our stories are the only things we have that can truly bring us together.

With that in mind, today I'm sharing two different cookie recipes. Both were recipe requests from the same person.** If you would like a printable PDF version of these recipes, there is a link to an index for all #KidLitConfections recipes at the bottom of this page. The current password for printing is WeNeedDiverseBooks

The first recipe, Cilantro & Lime Cookies, was very difficult for me to create because I'm one of those people for whom cilantro tastes like soap. So I couldn't (and frankly didn't want to) taste test these. But with a bit of trial-and-error, and a LOT of willing taste-test volunteers who love cilantro, I was able to create a recipe that was universally declared a winner by every cilantro-loving taste-tester in my sample group. I can't attest to the deliciousness of these cookies. They simply aren't designed for me.

The second recipe, Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cookies, quickly became one of my favorite cookies ever. It tastes like luxury and decadence, with a hint of nostalgia. (My dad used to get chocolate raspberry sticks for Christmas every year, and he would always share them with me while we sat and talked about the Very Important things going on in my life.) For me, this is the perfect combination for the ultimate dessert. But for my youngest daughter, they are disgusting. She hates the flavors of chocolate and fruit combined. These cookies are simply not designed for her.

You might love one and hate the other. You might think one is meh and love the other. You might love or hate both varieties. But wouldn't it be sad if we only had desserts that fit my criteria for the best treats? Or if my daughter's taste preferences ruled it all? One of us (and likely many of you) would always feel left out. We need diverse desserts. We need diverse books. We need each other.

Cilantro & Lime Cookies

Cilantro and Lime cookies: green cookies with gold sugar sprinkles on a white parchment paper background

You will need:

1 bunch cilantro (about 2 oz)

½ c. olive oil

3 eggs

¼ c. lime juice

½ c. butter

2 c. sugar

8 packets true lime crystalized lime

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

2-2 ¼ c. fine cornmeal

2-2 ½ c. gluten-free all-purpose flour (Bob’s Redmill 1-to-1 is my favorite)

Gold sugar sprinkles


Remove and discard cilantro stems. Wash leaves and pat dry on a folded, clean cotton towel.

In a blender, blend together cilantro leaves, olive oil, and eggs on high speed for about 45 seconds to a minute, until smooth. Add lime juice and True Lime crystalized lime powder. Blend for 30-45 seconds. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add cilantro mixture, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cornstarch. Mix until combined, then turn speed up to high and beat until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).

Stir in 2 c. each of cornmeal and flour. If mixture is too sticky, gradually stir in up to ¼ c. extra cornmeal and ½ c. additional flour.

Roll into 1-inch balls. Dip into gold sugar sprinkles and flatten each slightly. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart and bake* at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes. Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Cookies

white plate with a trim of green leaves and blue flowers with a pile of dark chocolate cookies, on a wooden tabletop

 1 ½ c. butter

1 ½ c. sugar

4 eggs

4 Tbsp. tapioca starch

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 c. freeze-dried raspberry powder

1 c. cocoa powder

3 ½ c. gluten-free all-purpose flour (Bob’s Redmill 1-to-1 is my favorite)

6 oz. mini chocolate chips

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, starch, baking powder, and salt. Mix until combined, then turn speed up to high and beat until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).

Stir in raspberry powder and cocoa powder. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Mix in 3 c. flour. If mixture is too sticky, gradually stir in up to ½ c. additional flour.

Roll into 1-inch balls. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart, and press to flatten each cookie slightly.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-10 minutes. Let cool about 5 minutes on tray before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

*If desired, you can freeze the extra cookie dough. Roll dough balls, dip in sprinkles, and flatten slightly. Place cookies on parchment-lined baking sheet (no space necessary) and freeze for 2-4 hours. Once frozen, transfer cookie dough to a large freezer bag and return to your freezer. You can bake straight from frozen at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-14 minutes. Freshly-baked cookies anytime you want! 

**I have a "cookie challenge" for missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  If they write to me--a hand-written letter sent to me in the mail--and tell me about a small daily miracle--something beautiful and uplifting that they have seen or experienced, they can request any kind of cookie they'd like, and I will create the recipe if it doesn't already exist (or simply make the cookies if it's an already established variety--I've had a few requests for plain chocolate chip) and send back a letter of my own with a sampling of their requested cookies. (I started with friends, family, and missionaries who have served in the areas where I've lived, and I allow them to share my address with their friends and family as well, so now I even get letters from missionaries I've never met, some of which are connected to me by three or four degrees of separation! I also have extended this same challenge a few times to a few other friends--mostly other KidLit writers and illustrators I've met through conferences and other events.) I think it would be fun to open up the challenge with a wider scope and see where and what kind of letters I could receive...but I haven't been able to figure out how to do so without sharing my address with the whole world or investing in a PO box (which is currently outside my budget)...

Printable PDF Recipes

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