A Happy Anniversary and Some Maple Fruit and Nut Crisps
My husband and I hosted a huge Halloween party ten years ago to this very day. And by huge, I mean a big white tent, a pig roast, and a DJ. Our hundred plus guests spared no detail; the costumes were over the top, especially mine–I went as a bride. In fact, I was the bride.
We were given a lot of advice as we planned our wedding, some solicited, some not, some valuable, some comical. But all of our advisers failed to share with us the one nugget that we most needed to hear: Marriage is really f*$%*@# hard. We were six years in when we understood just how hard it was and what the “for worse” part of our vows really meant. It wasn’t “he leaves the seat up” hard. Or “she spends too much time on the road” hard. It was “I’m sorry, it’s over” hard.
The most surprising part of our unraveling was that our love for each other wasn’t enough. It took a village to hold us together and carry the hope that I didn’t have the strength and conviction to carry. But in the end, we were the ones that had ruined it, and we were the ones that slowly pieced it together again. Somehow our marriage survived. It’s different now, like a second act. And it’s a damn good one. We take more care with our marriage and with each other these days. I’ll never be sure why we didn’t do that before.
So here’s the part where I gracefully segue into what these maple crisps have to do with my story. You might expect that we served them at the wedding. Or that I made them for our anniversary dinner. They’re neither. I had no urgent need to even be in the kitchen today; Greg is taking me to dinner tonight to celebrate our hard-earned double digit milestone. Today is simply a reminder that the little stuff matters–a lot. Tomorrow I’ll sneak a few of these into Greg’s lunch along with a note thanking him for a wonderful night, because I’m certain it will be.
It’s hard to choose the perfect partner for these subtly sweet crisps. They’re downright addictive on their own. Everything about them says Fall to me–the tart cranberries and sweet pears, the earthy walnuts, and the way they snap when you bite into one, like dried twigs underfoot. If forced to marry them off, I’d go with a creamy blue like St. Agur. A very ripe Camembert would be lovely too. We could keep dreaming up pairings together, but I don’t want to keep my date waiting.
Maple Fruit and Nut Crisps
Use your favorite fruit and nut combination in these crisps. I love pistachios with dates. Or substitute figs for the pears and cranberries and add a couple teaspoons of fennel seeds. Cranberries and hazelnuts. Rosemary, almonds, lemon zest, and golden raisins. Endless possibilities!
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup green pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons millet (optional)
2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried pears, roughly chopped
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Lightly grease four mini loaf pans with olive oil or butter. (My pans are each 5-3/4 by 3-1/4 by 2-1/4. If your pans are bigger or smaller, simply adjust the baking time accordingly.)
- Toast the nuts and seeds until fragrant, about 8 minutes. Separately toast the millet for 5 minutes, until very lightly browned.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, combine the milk, yogurt, and syrup. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stir until blended. Add the nuts, seeds, millet, and dried fruit.
- Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans. Bake until golden brown and firm, 25-30 minutes. Remove the loaves from the pans and cool on a wire rack.
- The cooler the loaf, the easier it is to slice. You can finish the crisps a few hours after they cool, the next day, or wrap them tightly and pop them in the freezer. They’re actually easier to slice when frozen. When you’re ready to bake the crisps, set the oven temperature to 300°F. Slice the loaves as thin as you can and place them on an ungreased baking sheet. (I like to bake one and freeze the remaining loaves until the craving strikes again.)
- Bake for 15 minutes. Flip the slices over and return them to the over for 10 minutes. Scatter them on a wire rack to cool.
Makes 6-7 dozen crisps.