Christmas is my favourite time of year. I thrive in the winter months. I love the cold, the blue winter sky and the magical atmosphere when the world goes quiet, covered in snow. I find December to be especially nostalgic. I’ll be working or talking as usual only to find my mind resting quietly in memories of years past. Perhaps it’s because Christmas is such a sensory season – the twinkling of lights, the smell of fresh baked cookies and the sound of Christmas music and the crackling of a warm fire. It’s like it all creeps into the dark corners of your brain and makes your neurons sing with memories that you thought were long forgotten.
It’s a bittersweet feeling that I find hard to describe. It comes with such a deep feeling of gratefulness and appreciation for everything we have and yet it’s accompanied by a silent sorrow… for the irretrievable past, for good times long gone and for loved ones no longer here. I suppose though that these feelings help to ground us and remind us of who we are and where we have been. Perhaps it is this bittersweet nostalgia that helps us feel so strongly connected to both neighbors and strangers alike during the holidays. The extra effort we take to shovel a neighbor’s sidewalk or the act of volunteering our time at a local soup kitchen.
We all seem to be a touch more giving during this special time. And maybe it’s because we’re all feeling this mishmash of gratitude and sorrow. I find it to be a feeling that I try my best to cultivate as soon as December arrives. My husband and I decorate the tree, hang the stockings and sit by the fire with a warm mug of cocoa and plate of Christmas cookies. In the years to come, this will be what I’m nostalgic for – all of this: the soft flicker of candlelight and fire, our dog asleep at our feet and the tiny kicks and turns I feel inside my belly as if our little girl is reminding us that she too is here… already a part of our family and our Christmas traditions.
I think these festive peppermint chocolate cookies will surely be a recipe I make year after year for my family. They are healthy, nourishing and infused with that familiar festive peppermint flavour. They are crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside and are naturally sweetened with a touch of maple syrup. These macaroons would be perfect for cookie exchanges, holiday gatherings or alongside a cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter’s night.
Merry Christmas from our (growing) family to yours!
- For the Macaroons:
- 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup cacao powder
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup canned coconut milk
- ½ tsp peppermint extract
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg white
- ⅛ tsp fine grain sea salt
For the Chocolate Dip:
- ½ cup vegan chocolate chips
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- ¼ tsp peppermint extract
- Preheat oven to 325°F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- In a large bowl, combine coconut, cacao powder, syrup, coconut milk and extracts. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the egg white and salt until soft peaks form. Fold into coconut mixture and mix gently until fully combined.
- Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop out balls of dough and pack them together tightly. Place on prepared baking sheet and gently flatten the ball with your palm or the back of a spoon.
- Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the tray half way through.
- Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and let cool for one hour.
- Once cookies have cooled, place chocolate chips in a double boiler or heatproof bowl over simmering water. Stir the chocolate until melted. Remove from heat and mix in the coconut oil and peppermint extract.
- Dip the bottom half of each cookie in the chocolate and place back on the baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden.
- Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. They may also be frozen for up to 3 months – they even taste delicious eaten cold straight from the freezer!