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then we can dance

Almond Cookies with Coconut + Cacao Nibs // Delightful CrumbIn her fantastic book Bird by Bird (which I firmly believe every writer or aspiring writer or potential writer, and maybe also everyone else, should read) Anne Lamott says,

The great writers keep writing about the cold dark place within, the water under a frozen lake or the secluded, camouflaged hole. The light they shine on this hole, this pit, helps us cut away or step around the brush and brambles; then we can dance around the rim of the abyss, holler into it, measure it, throw rocks in it, and still not fall in. It can no longer swallow us up. And we can get on with things.

I’ll wait a moment so those beautiful words can sink in.

cacao nibs dough

I think this is brilliant. I share this philosophy, though I know perhaps not every writer does. I know writers more compelled to tell happy stories, lighthearted ones and the type that will be easy on the ears, but I want to talk about the hard things I’ve experienced and the dumb things I’ve done and the small stumbling blocks I encounter every day. I do this because I want you to know you’re not alone.

And the happy side effect — thanks to the Internet — is that I find I’m not alone either (for proof of this, see the comment section of my last post; apparently many of you have set things on fire, too, and I’m extremely comforted).

Almond Cookies with Coconut + Cacao Nibs // Delightful Crumb Almond Cookies with Coconut + Cacao Nibs // Delightful Crumb

One of my jobs at present is at my neighborhood coffee shop. I do a lot of people watching while I’m at it, and my neighbors are lovely people to watch. But at times, they break my heart: the folks who are trying so very hard to find their way; those whose cheerful interactions are a thin cover for loneliness; the people who look weary not just due to lack of morning caffeine but of the world. And the thing is, I’m confused, too; life is a crazy thing, and I don’t know quite where mine is going. And I get lonely. Sure, having Ben as my partner helps immensely, but I still get that feeling in the pit of my stomach that suggests I’m alone in my struggles and thoughts. I’m tired, too, even when I get enough sleep.

I want to tell these people, to reach across the counter as I pass them cups of coffee and whisper, You are okay, you are not alone, you’ll find your way, you’re already on it. But it’s a bit much to offer this kind of unsolicited advice to a stranger or neighbor or even a budding friend, so I smile, I listen when they talk and we play good music in the cafe and make excellent coffee and build a community, little by little by little.

And I write. Maybe those people will never read this, but maybe they will. Or maybe the words are for you. Or maybe it just matters that I put this out there just so that it is there.

So that “we can dance… And we can get on with things.”

Alongside the reminder that we’re in this thing together, I offer a small treat to cheer you when you’re lonely or tired or blue. Sometimes all it takes is a little, tiny cookie. And this is an excellent one.

Almond Cookies with Coconut + Cacao Nibs // Delightful Crumb

Almond Cookies with Coconut + Cacao Nibs

Adapted from Sara and Hugh Forte‘s The Sprouted Kitchen

These cookies are gluten free, dairy free and delicious to boot! Note that there is a short resting time in the refrigerator before baking, so plan accordingly. Sara explains that keeping them small and baking them without parchment paper or a silicone mat helps them stay together. It also means that you can have a tiny morsel of goodness whenever you need it. Or many morsels, if that’s what you need.

1 1/4 cups almond meal

1/4 cup cacao nibs

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon finely ground espresso

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed

1 egg

3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the almond meal, cacao nibs, coconut, cinnamon, espresso, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In another bowl, beat the egg well, until it is a uniform color and doubled in volume. Whisk in the coconut oil and vanilla extract.

Add the wet mixture to the dry; mix until just combined. Place the bowl in the fridge and chill for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

With your hands, roll the chilled dough into balls just under a tablespoon in size and place on a baking sheet with 1 1/2-inch space between, giving them a gentle press on the tops to flatten them slightly. Bake until the edges just begin to brown, 7 – 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.

Yield: about 20 cookies

9 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. I’m so flattered to be involved in such a lovely post. I always love reading your words – like your open up a piece of your heart. I know exactly what you mean about seeing peoples’ hurt…I always want to say “so how are you really doing?” to strangers. Not sure how well that’d go over. In any case, thanks for posting this recipe, it is one of my favorites, understated as it is. and for your words, always.

  2. You are incredible, my dear friend.

  3. Love this post today! Inspires me to read Bird by Bird again.

  4. I also love these cookies AND this book. Great, inspiring post!

  5. I am catching up on blogs today, so this comment may seem late. I love all of your posts (in word + the tasty things you offer us), but this one is very special. I only started blogging because I was in that weird in-between, not knowing what to do especially with life in general (I still don’t know!!). Sometimes I talk about silly things, sometimes it’s heavier, but finding community in whatever I decide to share has been so freeing. Shed the light where we will and we move on together.

    Bird by Bird is next on my list. Thanks for this, lovely lady.

  6. I just recently made a cookie very similar to this; in fact, when I saw the photos I thought ‘Hey! I know those!’ but the recipe I followed was slightly different, even though they look exactly the same.

    I work in a grocery store helping people understand food better and showing off food items for people to try. I see a lot of hurt, a lot of pain and being in this position, the ‘bartender’ of a grocery store, so to speak, they open themselves up and share bits of their lives with me. Sometimes I see things that break my heart. Other days, I hear a scrap of conversation. Life is hard. So hard. We can all be quieter with others, more receptive to their footsteps, even when they differ from ours. And we can all share tiny cookies, like orbs of hope. Now I have to try this recipe.

  7. That passage. Seriously. So much comfort to my soul. Catching up on things here and just want to tell you that I cherish your voice and presence on this here big internet. Love from Denver.