“Done is better than perfect.”
I can’t tell you how many times I repeat this to myself on a daily basis, as a sort of mantra to soothe and convince the perfectionist inside me to just follow through. To just put it out there.
I almost pushed “publish” on this blog post yesterday afternoon, but something was holding me back. Two things, in fact. First, the photos weren’t what I wanted them to be: they were on the boring side without a lot of colour, and not really inspiring. Second, the recipe itself just wasn’t there. I was trying to make a vegan yogurt coating with coconut butter and although it was tasty, the texture was all wrong: chunky and gritty. Was it good enough? Probably. Would anyone have noticed what I saw as shortcomings? Probably not. But could I deal with it? Apparently, no.
As I was putting the finishing touches on the post, it hit me like a bolt of lightening: I needed to use cashew butter to achieve the silky consistency I was after. Noooo! It was the solution I had been calling in, but to arrive at the witching hour just seemed cruel. How could I start all over at this point? Was I crazy to even try, considering I didn’t know for sure that it would work out? With only minutes to make a decision, I hopped on my bike and cycled to the health food store. Again. Cursing myself, my brain, my ridiculous inability to know when to let go, and my insistence that what I put out in the world is my absolute best, really started to annoy me.
I bought all the ingredients for the third time, raced home, and got to work. The cookies were the best they’d ever been. Perfect, in fact. But was it worth it?
For anyone out there nodding their heads in recognition that they too, have these borderline masochistic tendencies to achieve an arbitrary portrait of perfection, may I ask what it is that drives us to create and then hold it all back if it’s not exactly what we imagined in our heads? Because nothing is perfect! When do we draw the line and just push “publish”? Is done really better than perfect? Because done for me it seems like settling for mediocrity a lot of the time. Even if it’s just a friggin’ cookie.
I’m not looking for answers here, just venting I suppose. But if you want to share your similar struggles, feel free in the comments. It’s not often I open up or vent in this space, so maybe we can all throw a perfectionist party, and make sure to have these very perfect cookies on the table.
Speaking of! Florentines are traditionally almond-centric biscuits, sometimes with the addition of dried fruit like cherries and orange zest, with a rich chocolate coating on the bottom. Because I really love dessert for breakfast, I was motivated to make a morning-appropriate version that wouldn’t make me feel like a glutton. I chose to add some buckwheat to the mix since I love to start my day with whole grains, and swapped out the chocolate for a vanilla-cashew butter coating that I basically want to pour over my entire life. Like I mentioned, my original thought was to go with something yogurt-like, but once I made this saucy concoction, there was no need to pretend it was something else. Pure, divine, silky-smooth pleasure glaze! Ahem.
I love these cookies because they are so simple to make with just a few ingredients, and incredibly fast. On my third testing, they were done – mixed, baked and glazed – in 20 minutes. If you’re in a rush to get your treat fix, leave the cashew coating out of the equation, and you’ll still have a gorgeously tasty and satisfying little snack.
As far as additions and flavours go, these wicked little morsels are kind of a blank slate. I made a couple batches with orange zest and one without. Personally, I really loved the citrusy warmth that the orange lends, and its nod to morning fodder, but you can also omit it for a more neutral taste. Instead, spice them up with cinnamon, cardamom, lemon zest, rose, lavender, coconut etc. I think adding cacao nibs would also be really delicious, as would dried blueberries, dried figs, or apricots. Whatever you choose to do, get ready to be very excited to get up in the morning. Couple these cookies with a turmeric latte, a piece of fruit and you’ll be good to go. Until 4 o’clock when you want another one.
½ cup / 90g raw buckwheat groats
½ cup / 70g slivered almonds (or sunflower seeds)
1/3 cup / 45g almond meal
2 ½ Tbsp. coconut oil
2 ½ Tbsp. pure maple syrup
a couple pinches sea salt
zest of 1 organic orange, optional
Vanilla Cashew Coating:
1/3 cup / 85ml cashew butter
¼ cup / 60ml coconut oil
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
seeds from 1 vanilla bean
pinch sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with baking paper.
2. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast buckwheat until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer buckwheat to a mixing bowl to cool. In the same skillet toast the slivered almonds until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer them to the bowl of buckwheat to cool, add the almond meal and stir to combine.
3. In the same skillet (no need to wash) over low heat, melt the coconut oil and add the orange zest, if using. Turn off the heat and whisk in the maple syrup and salt. Pour the liquid over the buckwheat and almond mixture and fold to combine. Do not wash the skillet.
4. Using a tablespoon measure, scoop out the florentine cookie mixture and set each one on the lined baking sheet with plenty of space in between (I baked these in 2 batches of six). Using the back of the spoon, flatten the cookies out a little. Place in the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes until the edges are golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and repeat with remaining mixture.
5. While the florentines are baking, make the cashew coating. Melt the coconut oil in the same skillet over low heat, then add the cashew butter and stir well to combine. Once melted, add the vanilla bean and maple syrup. Stir well and turn off the heat.
6. Once the florentines have cooled, make sure that the cashew coating is still liquid. Spoon a couple teaspoons on the bottom of each cookie and spread it as evenly as possible. Place on a lined baking sheet, coating side up in the fridge or freezer to set. Once firm, repeat with remaining coating, except this time place the coating side down on the lined baking sheet. Place in the fridge or freezer to set, then enjoy! Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer in a tightly sealed container for up to two weeks.
Once I started editing the new photos for this post, I realized that the last batch of Florentines weren’t as golden, or as flat as the previous batches. I decided to let that one go. And I’m very proud of that.
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Hey Copenhagen! Just a reminder about my first two cookbook events in CPH this Spring. The first will be an intimate talk and demonstration at SLOW Copenhagen, and the second will be a magical, celebratory dinner in collaboration with the local, organic grocer and kitchen, Kost. Click on the images for more info and tickets! Can’t wait to see you there.