I must admit, I was wrong, utterly, terribly wrong. I formed my notion, convinced myself and determined that Midwestern United States was a dull , boring and a sleepy sort of place with nothing much to do. So pronounced was my resolve, that I sank into profound depression with the thought of relocating to the region from a locale where life was like a garden party all year round. I was almost certain that I would lead a life of a country girl tending to my garden and my only source of entertainment would be the weekly farmer’s market. After all, my idea of the Midwest was corn fields, wheat fields and miles of prairie land as far as the eyes could see. Yes, there was Chicago but then we were not to live there and Waukesha somewhere in the Southern corner of Wisconsin did not sound very inviting. To add to my misery, I was leave all my lovely friends behind. When I put forth my plight to P, his reply was “cheer up old gal, it won’t be so bad, trust me .” I am ashamed to admit now that I did not trust him one bit. How wrong I was.
The day we landed in Milwaukee, it was snowing , cold damp and very late in the night. All of this did nothing to lift my spirits. P asked me “where is your sense of adventure?” to which my reply was, “hang with your sense of adventure, you have just brought me to possibly, to the most terrible place on earth.” Well we drove to the hotel, tired and very cold, the only thing that seemed inviting was a large bed and a warm room. The next two days or so weren’t so different. I continued to be irritable and kept scowling and P after the initial attempts to cheer me up kept mostly out of my way. A week on we started looking for apartments and the search brought us to Waukesha. The first look of the place did not seem uninviting but I did not want to be overtly optimistic. Then once when we were in the apartment complex , the sight of the Fox river was pleasing. The apartment per say, was bright and airy with a large patio overlooking a courtyard which at that point of time was largely covered with snow. Though the lady at the leasing office did her best to convince me that in summer and spring this courtyard is in full bloom.
We moved into the apartment in course of the next few days and though the immediate surrounding were attractive, I was still not convinced for the most part that I will like this place in time. But with the silver white winters melting into spring, this place transformed itself completely. I could not believe that this was the same area which was covered with snow just a month before. It was almost as if the caterpillar had transformed it self into a beautiful butterfly. I had never experienced spring in this fashion before. There were fountains popping, flowers blooming and bright blue sky. One day whilst I was making my way to the library, I saw a cherry blossom tree in full bloom and I think it was then that I fell in love with Waukesha . With the advent of summer. things only began to look up. We took a few holidays around the region. We visited Michigan, Minnesota and South Dakota ( more of those in future posts) . The lush green fields, the dotted farms and those very prairies that I had complained earlier on, only seemed to sooth the eyes. The landscape differed with every state from corn fields, to lake side drive to stricking geological deposits containing one of the worlds richest fossil beds and the isolated yet, majestic Black Hills that were the feast for the eyes.
I am almost ashamed to think of my earlier prejudices of the Midwest. If spring and summer were so enjoyable, I can hardly wait for Autumn to set in. Some say that is the gateway to the winters and that can be hard. But I would rather not complain for as the old saying goes, if winter is here, spring cannot be far away. The most beautiful thing of this region is that, people are warm and friendly. They take you in so easily as if you have always been one of them. Speaking of people, I have made some wonderful friends here and to thank them for all the love and kindness they have shown to me, I decided to bake some cookies. Well, they were more like thins. The flavour of this biscuit is rich dark with a hint of bitterness that comes from cocoa and then as you bit into it the sweetness of orange peel feels like a warm embrace. Almost like the midwest region it self.
I found this recipe from he wonderful food blog Crepes of Wrath and instantly fell in love with it. Though I did make some changes, in the sense, I did not decorate the cookies and my thickness of the biscuits were different, because I wanted them to be light, more on the fashion of thins.The basic recipe is same though.
So here it is
Dark Chocolate Orange Cookies from Crepe of Wrath
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1⅔ cups granulated sugar
- zest of 2 oranges
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
- 2 eggs, room temperature
Method: (the method is also from Crepe of Wrath )
- Combine your flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
- Add the granulated sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer, then add in the orange zest. Using your hands, rub the zest and sugar together until the sugar is a pale orange. Add in the butter and beat until light and fluffy, then add in the eggs, one at at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add in the flour mixture and mix until just moistened. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- When the dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly flour your work surface, your hands, and your rolling pin, then turn the dough out onto it and roll out to about ⅛-inch thick.( since I was baking them as thins, I rolled the dough to 1/12- Inch thick.) Cut into desired shapes and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.( I cut them into round with crinkled edges)
- The original recipe calls it to bake for 9-11 minutes, until set.Since I was baking them as thins, I let it bake for about 8-9 mins. Again this will largely depend on the type of oven one uses and the amount of heat it dispenses.
- Continue rolling out the dough and baking until you have no more dough.
- You can make the dough ahead and freeze it for a day. Just make sure it is rested on the kitchen counter for about 10-15 mins before rolling out.
- In case you choose to decorate the cookies you can use the royal icing recipe of the cookies in Crepe of Wrath.