Monday, December 1, 2014

Espresso Hazelnut Cookies

Two years ago, I moved to LA. Or so. The anniversary is a weird one to pinpoint because there's the day I left Minnesota, the start of my lease, when my little Scion soared into my new neighborhood via the 5, the day I returned from that prolonged Christmas break that made my first few weeks in LA feel more like a vacation than a move. There's the arbitrary date I wrote on my California DMV registration to avoid paying late fees. Maybe the anniversary should be the first time I accidentally said "home" and meant LA. Regardless, my relationship with this city feels like a college romance where we fucked around that one time at a party, went on an undefined group date to a football game, told our friends it might be a "thing." I guess the day doesn't matter -- what matters is that we're together.

I know I'm reallllllly killing it with this analogy, but please don't get it confused, I am very much single.

I had never been to California before I moved here. Family road trips had always been east and south and I went to school in New York. Even while studying sitcom writing in college, it never occurred to me that I would some day have to live in LA. Uh, what a dumb-dumb. My college roommate and lifemate and best friend, Haley Hepworth*, had moved to LA and convinced me I'd love the city based on the number of Targets in the vicinity and, like, various waffles she ate and "thought of me." The weird thing is, it didn't take much convincing. I hate change and avoid spontaneous decisions whenever possible, and risk is terrifying, but she said, "We can live together again and maybe have a claw foot tub," and I was like, "Sold." I was in a long-term relationship, very much involved in the Minneapolis improv community, working a few jobs in theater and putting up shows. I ADORE Minneapolis. I had a great apartment a few blocks from HUGE Theater and Lake Harriet with a delightful roommate who would sometimes surprise me with pasta. But I jumped. I practiced telling people I was "maybe moving to LA at the end of the year" and then suddenly I just WAS. I guess I'm incredibly proud of myself for not over-thinking things for once in my life, but then again, I'm pretty sure even over-thinking would have led me to the same decision. LA is where I should be and I had the support system to make the move a relatively smooth transition. My then-boyfriend and I road-tripped to LA and it was honestly the best time we spent together. For some reason, I concocted faulty logic that once you see the Grand Canyon with someone, you'll be together forever. My former therapist would call this "magical thinking" but it really worked for me at the time.

Did someone say VEGAS?!
 I was welcomed to this city by Haley and several college friends and moved into a great house and my parents visited and everyone was all, "We believe in you!" Every time I'm like, "That Tesla cut me off" or "I can't stop sweating" I remember how lucky I am to have friends here and be part of a community I love. Minneapolis is great and will always be HOME home, but LA is just where I'm supposed to be. BASICALLY, I'M GRATEFUL AND HAPPY, OKAY?

This week, I made Espresso Hazelnut Cookies. And as my friend Mary asks me every week, no, I didn't make up the recipe. I'M NOT THAT GOOD. But the cookies are! I love hazelnut lattes, so I figured this would be a fun way to add some calories to that flavor profile. 

Before I moved, one of my jobs was at Caribou Coffee. I woke up very early and made turtle mochas and served apple fritters that would sometimes break and then I'd HAVE to eat them and provided excellent customer service. I didn't mind working at Caribou until that ONE DAY when I was filling up a large tea with... water? Can I call it just "water" when it's over 180 degrees? Someone bumped me and I spilled the entire cup of scalding hell-liquid on my hand. I then grabbed my hand, which slid all of the skin off said hand like a fucking horror movie, and I was making some weird sound that indicated incredible pain, and the customer was all, "Can I please have my tea before you go to urgent care?"

I had a skinless hand for awhile -- a wound that was vaguely phallic, so that was fun for friends. I applied various creams and magically, my hand grew back, despite the fact that it looked like raw steak for awhile.

I was going to post a picture but I put one on Facebook when it happened and someone reported it, so, you know, no need to unnecessarily upset people with my body. If you're into it, pictures can be found here. Don't tell that abandoned blog about this blog, kthanks.

I kept working at Caribou by wearing a plastic bag around my gauzy wound. And now I can't drink tea without having flashbacks. So, that's a fun part of my life.

Espresso Hazelnut Cookies

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons instant espresso
2 cups roasted and unsalted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt. Or don't even mix it, you rebel.
Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, blend the butter and both sugars until it's not a clumpy mess.
Add the eggs one at a time, making sure they blend well.
Add the espresso and watch the color of your batter MAGICALLY CHANGE!
If you bought whole hazelnuts, like I did, you'll have to chop them. The quickest and easiest way seemed to be to crush them with the broad side of a big knife. You can do it, put your back into it! 2 cups is about 10 ounces, by the by. 

Oh, nuts! <-- pun
Add the hazelnut pieces to the batter and mix by hand. I found the batter to be gross and too thick. You might feel similarly.
Grease your cookie sheets and drop the dough in heaping tablespoons. Spread that shit out. 
Bake for about 10 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.
Enjoy your caffeinated dessert! 

The cookies turned out chewy and not too sweet. I really like them! I'm curious to try the recipe with almonds, as almond lattes are also delicious, and a nut is a nut is a nut. Would that count as making up my own recipe?

Happy baking!

*You didn't forget about that Haley Hepworth asterisk, did you? Haley and I met in college but we actually "met" when we were in junior high and belonged to the same SNL message board online. When it came up, we realized we knew each others' screen names. Clearly, soulmate material.