Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies with Pecans + Orange

Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies w/ Pecans + Orange {wheat free, dairy free} | Ruby Josephine
Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies w/ Pecans + Orange {wheat free, dairy free} | Ruby Josephine

A funny thing has happened in the past year and a half. Every time I relay to someone that I am flying back to Minneapolis, I say without hesitation “I am going home for the holidays” and yet when I then say how long my trip is, I conclude with “I am flying home at the end of the month.” I suppose learning to call two places home is part of growing into full adulthood, but there is something curious about it when the two places are so vastly different.

Before I delve any further into this idea, I have to admit something. I did not finish NaNoWriMo. I could make all sorts of excuses about how I got busy and was preparing for my quick visit to London before heading to the states, but the truth is I just completely lost steam. I may not have written 50,000 words, but I made it to a whopping 38,000 words filling 114 tiny typed pages which, considering the longest thing I’ve ever written is a 20-page political theory essay in college, is a huge accomplishment. Frankly, I am surprised that I was able to get that much material out there, especially since it was all personal experiences, stories, and anecdotes. I have not reread through the entire monster yet (I’m a little afraid), but I am decently pleased with the opening paragraph:

Living in Tangier has been a quilt of experiences, sewn together to create something of a whole person, just trying to be. The biggest struggle for anyone living in a different culture, context, country, is reconciling a sense of self with being in a place so foreign to one’s base. There is a constant ebb and flow of confidence and self-knowledge. One second we know everything, the next it all flies out the window with the whipping Tangier winds. Sometimes it feels that all of my roots in Minneapolis have been pulled out from under me and replanted rather haphazardly in this big tangle in Moroccan soil. It has become my job to untangle, replant, reground.

It continues on to talk about how exactly I have been trying to deal with this mess of tangled roots and I must say, just writing it all out clarified so much for me. I was recently skimming around Brainpickingsand came across this quote by Alison Bechdel, “it’s by writing… by stepping back a bit from the real thing to look at it, that we are most present.” What a perfect summary of my past month. By writing about my transformation through Morocco (that is really an ongoing process), I began to feel so much more present and settled in my daily life there until I finally reached a point where I was reasonably comfortable with my identity and sense of self.

There’s just one issue. Coming back home to Minneapolis now, I am totally rootless. I have been replanted in Moroccan soil and when I return to my warm and welcoming childhood home, I float kind of awkwardly between comfort and discomfort. It is not a bad feeling exactly, but it is just the sense of being somewhere that used to define you and then suddenly you don’t quite belong. I think Minneapolis is a fabulous city, but I am not in my element here anymore. Maybe that reconciliation comes with time, maybe not at all. If you had asked me three years ago if I would ever call Tangier home with such certainty I probably would not have believed it, so who am I to predict any of life’s amazing curveballs?

I am truly curious, does anyone else experience a similar awkward detachment when they return to their original "home?" We have so many clichés and sayings about what home is- it's where the heart is, there's no place like it, etc.- but how do we define it for ourselves? It seems to me that it is an ever-fluctuating concept.

Given the strangeness of being here, I tend to gravitate away from old high school haunts and towards things that bring peace. My sanctuaries of Minneapolis are daily dance + yoga classes, the beautiful, full house I grew up in, our two sweet furball cats, pulling all of the books I want to read off of our library of shelves and devouring as many as possible, and baking my heart out.

Cats & Cookies | Ruby Josephine
Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies w/ Pecans + Orange {wheat free, dairy free} | Ruby Josephine

As much as I love combing the Tangier Souks for hidden gems, it feels so good to have familiar ingredients at my fingertips. Dark chocolate chips, Trader Joe's pecan pieces, and flours of all varieties, especially now with my Dad being mostly wheat-free. Being in my Minneapolis home for the beginning of the holidays would not be complete without an inaugural cookie baking session. These crisp-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside beauties developed from picking around my parent's pantry and getting inspired by a favorite wintery flavor combination: chocolate + orange. Made with coconut oil, spelt and almond flours, they not only feel a bit healthier than your standard chocolate chip cookie (so it's fine to eat like 5, right?), but also have a lovely depth of flavor. These are definitely headed straight to the annual holiday baking repertoire.

Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies w/ Pecans + Orange {wheat free, dairy free} | Ruby Josephine
Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies w/ Pecans + Orange {wheat free, dairy free}
Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies w/ Pecans + Orange {wheat free, dairy free} | Ruby Josephine

Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies with Pecans + Orange {wheat free, dairy free}

Makes 16-18 cookies, adapted from Kelley's recipe at Chef Savvy

  • 1/2 cup solid coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup superfine almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans

In a large bowl, cream together the coconut oil and brown sugar with a fork (get ready for a good arm workout) or with a handheld mixer until combined and there are no white pieces of coconut oil left. Whisk in the egg, vanilla, and zest. In a medium bowl, mix together the flours, baking soda, and salt, then add the dry ingredients to the wet in two parts. You may want to use your hands on the second batch as it is a pretty thick (but sticky) dough. Once totally combined, fold in the chocolate chips and pecan pieces. Roll the dough into small balls, roughly 1.5"-2" in diameter depending on how large you like your cookies. Place them spaced apart on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and chill in the fridge for about an hour.

Midway through the chilling, preheat your oven to 350ºF (175ºC). After an hour is up, bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes or until the top feels mostly firm, but still a little soft in the center. You do not want them to be totally hard or you will have very crispy cookies- I personally like them best with a little chewiness on the inside. Let them cool for about 5-10 minutes and eat to your heart's content.