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Real Food for Real People: Cookies That Bring Joy

Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th century Abbess, was blessed with an astonishing array of talents.  She was, among other things, a mystic, naturalist, visionary, and composer.  She believed "foods of joy" revitalized us and helped preserve good health in every sphere - physical, spiritual, and psychological.  

In the cookbook, From Saint Hildegard's Kitchen, chef Jany Fournier-Rosset has brought 175 of her recipes into the modern era.  I have a deep love for Saint Hildegard and when I got this book a few years ago the first thing I had to make was from the "Saint Hildegard's Own Special Recipes" section - "Cookies that Bring Joy."  They're similar to a spice cookie, not too sweet, the perfect companion with afternoon tea.

Plus, it is pretty darned cool to be baking cookies that were baked in the 12th century!

Cookies that Bring Joy
12T + 1t  butter
3/4c brown sugar
1/3c honey
4 egg yolks
2 1/2c spelt flour*
1t salt
2 rounded T of "Spices that Bring Joy" mixture (see note below)

Melt the butter under low heat, add the sugar, honey, and egg yolks, beating lightly.
Add the flour and salt, combine gently.
Refrigerate this cookie dough after mixing, for at least 1 hour.
Remove from refrigerator, roll out onto a floured surface, cut with a cookie cutter.
Bake on a baking sheet at 400ºF for 10-15 minutes until just golden, watching closely.

Note: "Spices that Bring Joy" mixture: 1T nutmeg, 1Tcinnamon, 1t cloves

*I did not have any spelt flour, so I substituted with whole wheat flour and still found the cookies brought me joy.

From St Hildegard's writings: " Make small cookies and eat these often.  They will reduce the bad humors, enrich the blood, and fortify the nerves.  Children may eat up to three cookies a day, adults may eat five.  They may remove hate from the heart, assure good intelligence, and give one a joyful spirit."