When Baking Heals…Cornmeal, Date and Almond Biscotti

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Sometimes things happen and it makes people sad.
My uncle died this week and it made me sad.
It made others sad too and that is tough for me because “happy” is what I do best and seeing others go through sadness imparts a feeling of helplessness on me that others could never understand.  During times like this, my wish is that I could somehow take some of the burden from those dealing hardest with the pain.  But sometimes, that’s just not possible.

And that makes me saddest of all.

But, what I have learned is that people in pain – in pain from sorrow, in pain from loneliness, in pain from uncertainty of what life will bring next – just need compassion.  Sometimes, though, it feels so contrived to say “if there is anything you need, please let me know”, because what people need most of all is to know that everything will be okay.

Food, in a comforting way, makes me feel that way. By receiving food, it makes me feel like someone has given me the gift of time and love by cooking for me. But, even better, by baking myself and sharing with others, I not only feel comforted by the act of creating food that will nourish others during a time when nourishment is the last thing they feel they need, but I also feel fulfilled through the act of baking itself which seems therapeutic at the core.

I brought these cookies to my aunt who was married for 60 years to the man she loved.  She is a strong woman, but I am sure this loss will seem insurmountable to her.  She has spent many hours in her kitchen over the years baking for others in their time of need.  I hope she knows how my heart breaks for her and that my gift to her helps her remember that things will be okay.


1 1/4 c cornmeal
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c butter, cubed
1 c sugar
2 eggs
grated orange zest (from one orange)
1 c dates, pitted and chopped
1 c almonds 

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 and get your ingredients ready.  In a large bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt; set aside.
2.  In a mixing bowl, mix butter until light.  Add sugar and mix again.  Add eggs and orange zest and mix until combined.  Add dates and almonds and give it one more good mix.
3.  Put some parchment on a cookie sheet and divide the dough in half, separating it into 2 portions on your tray.
4.  Pat down the dough and form into 2 flat logs.  Bake for about 30 minutes until browned and firm to the touch…
…they should look like this.
5.  Remove the logs (after they’ve cooled for a few minutes) to a cutting board and cut with a serrated knife into 1/2 slices.  Place the slices back on the tray and bake for about 15 minutes (flipping them over at the half way point to dry on the other side)
6.  When they are done, they should be dry all the way through (although having them a bit soft in the middle is yummy too).  The almonds will show nicely when they are cut.
A simple cookie…to fill your tummy, sooth your soul and let you know that someone out there is thinking about you 🙂
*inspired by a recipe from www.marthastewart.com