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Give This: My Family and Other Animals + White Chocolate Strawberry Cookie Mix in a Jar

Give This: My Family and Other Animals + White Chocolate Strawberry Cookie Mix in a Jar

This is our first post of December and, as such, I am happy to declare that 'tis in fact the season. Around this time of year, it's hard not to get caught up in the holiday spirit (even if, like me, carols aren't really your thing). Being Muslim, my family doesn't usually celebrate a holiday this time of year, but I still love giving gifts to friends and coworkers. The problem is, it's hard to come up with personal and heartfelt gifts year after year. That's why this year I'm doing something different. In keeping with the theme of this blog and two of the things I love most in this world, the other bloggers and I will be sharing book and food gift pairings this month. Mine is My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell and white chocolate strawberry cookie mix — in a jar!

The story of how I came to read My Family and Other Animals is a pretty cute one. Last year, I was regularly reviewing South Asian books and, while I enjoyed them immensely, needed a break from the Subcontinent. Desiring to know a different part of the world, I sent a missive out to the great unknown abyss known as Twitter, requesting a good Greek title. Quickly, a person I'd never met and have never heard from since recommended this book. I bought it online on a whim and raced through it over the course of only a couple days.

As books go, this may be the funniest I've ever read. The title alone is a prime example of the wry wit that characterizes Durrell's voice. The story is told from his perspective as an English child living in Greece with his mother and siblings. That it's autobiographical makes this story all the funnier. Durrell grew up to be a naturalist and zookeepers – no surprise considering the major role flora and fauna play in this, one of his earliest books. My favorite story of them all is that of the family's pet tortoise, Achilles', whose love for strawberries is his...well, you know. Unfortunate and hilarious, the tortoise would respond to the call, "Achilles, strawberries!" Now that's an animal after my own heart.

To complete this gift, give your friends a way to make cookies Achilles would die for: "Shellberry" Cookies. I adapted these white chocolate strawberry cookies from this Cranberry Hootycakes recipe, and decided they needed a nickname of their own. I turned to friends across the Web and the nickname I liked best was also one of the simplest. Shellberry Cookies seemed appropriate since the cookies come to resemble tortoise shells as they bake. They crumble in your mouth and go great with a hot drink. Plus, the red strawberry specks give them a great festive feel. Bake them yourself or layer the mix in a jar to give to your favorite animal-lover.

White Chocolate Strawberry Cookie Mix
Cookies in a jar and mix

WHITE CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY "SHELLBERRY" COOKIES

Ingredients

  • 5/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup instant oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup instant oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened strawberries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup

Directions

Using scissors, cut dried strawberries into raisin-sized pieces.

For gifting, layer dry ingredients into a one-quart jar in the order listed.

For baking, preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a cookie sheet.

Beat together softened butter, egg, and maple syrup until creamy.

Add dry ingredients and mix by hand (literally get your hands in there; a spatula won't do the job) until completely combined and resembling dough.

Mold into 1-1/2 inch balls and place on baking sheet.

Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until edges brown and cookies begin to resemble tortoise shells (flat on the bottom, rounded and lumpy on top).

Cool on racks before serving. Enjoy with tea or coffee.


Grab some jars here and get to the gift-making!

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