Bake Your Stress Away: Coping with Difficult Times
By Bonnie Fishman
STRESSED OUT, “To experience a lot of mental, emotional, or physical strain or tension,” according to Wikipedia. DESSERTS spelled backwards is STRESSED. That’s no accident. Stress eating–we all go for comfort food, often sweet things. Maybe that’s why I wrapped myself in a dessert world when I opened Bonnie’s Patisserie in Southfield Mich. in 1980. Surrounded by the aromas, sights, and tastes of homemade cinnamon rolls, muffins, cookies, brownies, coffee cakes, and the like, I was a kid in a candy store (a.k.a. bakery) every morning for 30 years. You have NO IDEA what a high that was entering my shop when the bakers were taking delicacies out of the oven. That smell smacked me in the face. I was home, wrapped in a security blanket, being coddled like a small child. These were the aromas of my childhood, Mom baking almost every day. It was really no accident that I recreated that sensory space to bask in. I ate a sweet every morning with my coffee. (Who are we trying to kid? I ate them all day!). These comforting tastes and smells eased me through a stressful day of being a businesswoman.
Another ironic play on words is STRESS FRACTURE. Stress fractures are tiny cracks in a bone. They are caused by repetitive force. Actually, I see a real twist here, pardon the pun. When one’s life is fractured, it causes stress. Many people’s worries during this continued period of Covid-19–not feeling safe about career stability, schooling children, economic woes, safety of loved ones–have put a collective pressure on us all. I and my family are going through a particularly stressful time right now, so how do we get through it? For starters, supporting each other and processing the days’ and weeks’ events together. But when I am really, really over the edge, I don’t eat. Anything this side of that, it’s carbohydrates all the way: crusty bread with sweet butter, sesame bagels with cream cheese and apricot jam, my home-baked blueberry muffins (with extra berries!) right out of the oven. So I bake my stress away. I used to do it in college in the evenings after studying and before exams. Now I do it to help sort out my thoughts, give myself purpose, and well, enjoy the fruits of my labor.
The recipe I’m posting today is just the right ticket for stress eating. These Cappuccino Biscotti have it all. They go great with coffee and their snappy texture and flavor are the epitome of your many emotions: the warm cinnamon and cayenne spices wraps you in loving arms, the biting candied ginger lets you know you’re alive, the chocolate chunks hit the sweet spot, and the protein-filled nuts give you the support you need. Make these. Savor them. Give them away. Keep them in a jar. When the mood strikes, reach for my version of a great stress reliever. Then call your therapist.
As with most biscotti, there are many varieties and flavors. This recipe is a starting point for your creative mind. Take your pick: very crispy or ones with a little “give, depending how long you keep them in the oven. Feel free to substitute any of the items with something more to your liking. You prefer walnuts to almonds? Go for it. You want white chocolate instead of dark? I won’t argue with you. Golden raisins instead of cherries? Hmmm, maybe you’re on your own with that one.
Come and decompress with us-tell us here at The Insider what you put in your own biscotti.
Yield: 4 dozen
1 Tbs. instant espresso powder
1 Tbs. hot water
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 lg. eggs
1 egg white
2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. + 2 Tbs. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. toasted chopped almonds or hazelnuts
3/4 c. chocolate chunks or chips
3/4 c. chopped crystalized ginger
3/4 c. dried cherries
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spray with pan release. Reserve.
Dissolve the espresso powder in the hot water in a small bowl. Add the vanilla. When the water has cooled to room temperature, whisk in the eggs and the egg white. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Pour in the wet ingredients. Using a wooden spoon, stir together. Add the nuts. Continue working the dough until it comes together, using your hands if necessary (spray your hands with pan release first). Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Roll each piece into a log and press onto the cookie sheet. The logs should be about 3” wide x 14” long x 1/2” high.
Bake for 18 minutes. Cool slightly. Cut into 1/2” slices. Bake again until desired “crunch”, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.
Bonnie Fishman attended the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London. Later, she owned and operated Bonnie’s Patisserie in Southfield, Mich. and Bonnie’s Kitchen and Catering in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. She has taught cooking for over 35 years and created hundreds of recipes. She is now living in Northern California.