A Chocolate and Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake with Crispy Cocoa Cookies and Dark Chocolate Malted Fudge

My oldest turn ten years old this week.  Recalling very clearly those earlier years of being a new mom, I often wondered why the days seemed to crawl along so slowly.  Quite the opposite now, I find myself grasping to hold on to each moment, wanting him to grow up and at the same time not wanting him to grow up.  I’m sure those of you with kids can relate.  He gave me very specific instructions for his birthday cake this year.  An ice cream cake with chocolate and mint chocolate chip ice creams, crushed cookies and fudge sandwiched in the middle, no whipped cream.  Of all the birthday cakes I’ve made, this one was by far the easiest.  And yet, he declared it my best cake ever, reminding me that more time invested does not always mean better.

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Gingered Pear Crisp

Along with learning to say no to more, I’m also learning to allow myself to say yes to more of the little things that spark joy (as Marie Kondo would say) and bring meaning to my days.  Quiet moments in the kitchen always bring joy.  As I made this pear crisp other other day, I worked slowly enough to enjoy everything about it- slicing into those perfectly ripe pears, using my hands to work the crumble, smelling the kitchen as it baked, and then watching my children delight in eating it.  As I tried to snap a few shots before serving it, my daughter grabbed her camera as well and starting taking photos right alongside next to me.  The two of us working together to capture the beauty of a simple fruit crisp– joy.

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Chocolate Almond Spelt Cookies

For as busy and stressful as December can be, I still love it for its reminders of hope and joy, and also for its richness in celebrating traditions.  Ryan’s family makes the same lebkuchen, fudge, and bourbon balls year after year, and they always bring back sweet memories of loved ones and happy times together.  As a child, I always looked forward to the scent of homemade gingerbread houses in the oven.  My mom would stay up all night baking gingerbread walls and roofs for me and my cousins, and in the morning everything was magically ready for assembly, with heaping bowls of candy and icing for us to decorate to our heart’s delight.  As our own family has begun forming our own traditions, there are a few recipes I hope will make yearly appearances- our biscotti tree, these classic gingerbread boys and girls, and Christmas morning stollen.  I always make sure to leave at least some room to add something new each year as well.  I’ve had my eye on Dorie Greenspan’s world peace cookies for a while now, and decided that this year seemed especially appropriate for making cookies so fondly named “world peace”.

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