“It doesn’t feel like Christmas” I think out loud watching fat globs of rain slide down the window, it’s dark outside, on what feels like the greyest day.
K. slides the window open, sniffs the air and declares “It doesn’t smell like Christmas either!”
And what does Christmas smell like? I don’t know… Pine and falling snowflakes, the lingering smell of warm cookies, crackling fireplaces and mulling spices…
It’s also the smell of the dry harmattan wind and the countless trips through the Akuapim ranges to my grandmother’s. There’s the smell of jollof over an open fire and my grandmother’s baking… all these things encapsulates the smell of Christmas for me.
A few Christmases ago, when we had a rare and enchanting white Christmas, @adjoa swore she could smell joy in the crisp air. I knew exactly what she meant; it’s that same feeling I get when I bake, it reminds me of my grandmother’s cakes at Christmas time and that makes me happy.
We’re counting down to Christmas, but there’s no urgency here, we have a cute advent calendar and a ‘baking list’; on it, are recipes for cookies, cakes, pies and galettes.
First on our list are these pistachio and fig thumbprint cookies; we’ll probably make a few more batches before the holidays are over. They’re my favourite cookies right now, and everyone loves them – they’re vegan and gluten-free (I use ‘gluten-free oats’).
The oats and pistachios, I grind myself using a food processor, I’ve used raw and roasted pistachios, both work but I prefer raw pistachios, the roasted ones are a but drying. I get the almond meal from the store, but I can easily make that too.
For the holidays I use spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger for the wonderful smells and flavours of the season.
I grab a couple of the cookies, with a steaming cup of hot cocoa, watch the twinkling lights and patiently, very patiently wait for Christmas morning.
Oh, there’ll be more baking in between – delightful scones and shortbread cookies, decadent cakes and luscious sweet pies. I’m creating more cosy holiday smells for my memory bank.
Pistachio and Fig Thumbprint Cookies
- 2 cups oat flour (ground oats)
- 1 cup ground almond
- 1 cup ground pistachios
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (like canola or safflower oil)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup or agave syrup
- Fig jam/preserve or your preferred jam/preserve
- Preheat the oven to 350Â°F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
- In a large bowl, mix the oat flour, ground almond, ground pistachios, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt with a wooden spoon
- Add the vegetable oil and maple syrup and mix until well combined
- Form the dough into rounded tablespoon-sized balls and space them evenly on the baking sheet.
- Use your index finger or the end of a wooden spoon to make an indentation and fill each cookie with a small amount of the fig jam
- Bake until cookies are evenly browned, about 20 minutes