Oh, my goodness. I’m seated at my desk astonished that it has been four months since I’ve practiced my writing exercises, over three months since I’ve posted on this blog, and well over a month since I’ve attempted writing anything at all. How has this lag happened? If only I could blame it on a busy life and blossoming relationship, but those are pathetic excuses. If I have time to watch Netflix, I have time to write. And, full disclosure, I have plenty of time for Netflix. So, what’s the impediment? Writing for me, alas, is a lot like my efforts at a consistent gym schedule. It’s good for me; it’s something I need to do, I’m frequently satisfied with the long-term results, but I’m not wholly convinced I actually enjoy the process. “Write” is on my daily to-do list, yet the climb from contemplation to commencement is a monumental crag to ascend, necessitating further tenacity when the words on the page fail to satisfy me. After a hiatus, after putting my pen down for far too long, the first few visits to my writer’s retreat are a trudge…a snail’s pace on a treadmill while staring at a blank wall. I want these efforts to be fruitful, expecting to see the contours of my writer’s muscles reflected on the page immediately, yet I often gaze upon flabby dreck even following an entire afternoon’s hard labor. It takes consistent, focused determination to settle myself and put words on the page without expectation of an inspired outcome. It takes a few sessions before I’m once again caught in a rhythm of writing and re-writing, before it becomes part of my day and begins to feel natural, as if I was meant to do this. If I practice, I will, eventually, produce results. I will write and write and, in due course, dare to label myself “writer” once more, until, a distraction throws me off yet again – a vacation, a need to work late, a new interest – and then, before I realize what has happened, it’s four months later, the season has changed, and my writer’s muscles have atrophied again. After yet another hiatus, I will sit astounded in front of the recriminating blank page, admonishing myself for veering so widely from my decided path yet again.
One of my many barriers to writing consistently is the obvious fact that my writing is at its best when I am indignant over some personal affront. When I am passionately righteous in my position, the words flow from my fingers to the page as if the tap of a deep, dark, underground well has been cranked wide open. Yet, I cannot live in a world of perpetual righteous indignation for the sake of writing. The tap runs dry, the wound scars over, the damage, if not repaired, is razed for rebuilding. My obsession over others’ wrongs slowly fades away into “who cares?” and with this diminishing ire, my muse also dissipates. It’s difficult to write when my life is on track. Of course, I can always tap into that faintly festering swamp of ancient hurts and childhood traumas, but it’s not pleasant spending one’s down time perpetually slogging through the mire.
Writing, for me, never comes easy. Never. Even when the words flow, there is rewriting to be done and, even when the writing is good and I complete a piece, splaying myself on the page, I hobble from this desk, sore and a bit delirious with stiff joints and cloudy brain, not prepared to reemerge into the world outside my writer’s retreat. The process is never straightforward for me, and yet it beckons. So, after four months away, I am hunched over my laptop again, rusty in my attempt to make these words sing, tinkering with each sentence in hopes you can relate to what I’m trying to say. I’ve renewed my membership, returning to my writer’s gym, gently, tentatively stretching these muscles once again.
When choosing desserts, mint chip is a flavor both Mr. M and I agree on, so when I decided to whip up a quick dessert a few weeks ago, I recalled my mom’s iconic recipe for “Frozen Chocolate Frangos.” These “special occasion” velvety chocolate and mint semi-frozen treats were so decadently rich, wee little Julie couldn’t finish one by herself. I dug out my mom’s old recipe and zhuzhed it up just a bit for an adult palate. These semifreddos are the result. NOTE: Semifreddos are made with uncooked eggs. If this is a concern for you, substitute pasteurized eggs.
For those who love the combination of refreshing mint and smooth chocolate, these rich, not-too-sweet semi-frozen treats will delight your taste buds. Named after Frango mints, these melt-in-your-mouth treats are a perfect after-dinner dessert.
- Crust and Topping
- 14 Chocolate wafter cookies (or Oreo cookies)
- ⅓ cup toasted walnuts
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted Filling
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
- 1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
- Pinch salt
- 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1 cup whipping cream, Slightly sweetened and whipped
- Mint sprigs for garnish (optional)
- In a food processor, blitz cookies and toasted walnuts until finely ground. Add melted butter and blitz until crumbs begin to stick together. Reserve 2 Tablespoons of crumbs. Evenly distribute remaining crumbs between 8 lined muffin tins and lightly press into bottom of each liner. I use the bottom of a ¼ cup to help pack the crumbs into the liners.
- Using an electric mixer, beat together butter, sifted confectioner’s sugar, and salt until smooth and fluffy. Add melted chocolate and beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and peppermint extract. Beat for 5-7 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed, until filling is very light and fluffy.
- Pipe filling into each muffin tin until full. Sprinkle reserved crumbs over top and freeze until firm, about one hour.
- To serve, remove frangos from freezer and let set at room temperature for 10 minutes. Pipe with whipped cream and garnish with mint sprigs if using.