Posted by Grace Massa Langlois on Friday, 27th January 2012

As promised, crispy Italian cookies - Hazelnut Cookies with Chocolate Chunks, the perfect accompaniment to the chocolate dessert (Chocolate Hazelnut Pots de Crème) I shared last week.

A cropped photo of Italian Cookies, hazelnut and chocolate chunk cookies, cooling on a black wire rack.

When I was growing up there were two things my mother could always be certain of.  One, I could always be found trying to sneak a cup of coffee.  Two, there was nothing I enjoyed more than dipping Italian Cookies in that coveted cup of coffee.

Not much has changed since I was a little girl; I’m still sneaking coffee.  I indulge in it a little too much. Especially stovetop perked coffee, the aroma is intoxicating and the taste? – Addicting!  And of course I’m still dipping cookies in that sinfully delicious coffee.

And these crispy Hazelnut Cookies with Chocolate Chunks are perfect for dipping.  Maybe just a little too perfect!  At this rate I may never fit into my swimsuit again.

A photo of chocolate and hazelnut cookies displayed on a red/orange cloth napkin with a jug of milk.

I had a terrible accident years ago that left me with chronic pain.  It’s ironic really that after this accident my weight plummeted to an all-time low, teetering around the 103-pound mark.  My family was up in arms.  At times they were accusing me of not eating.  Other times they blamed the medication.

What they didn’t realize was that neither was to blame.  I was eating more than I ever had.  I just wasn’t able to gain the weight.  My efforts to eat more were futile.  At one point I began overindulging on potato chips, ice cream and sweets.  Unfortunately not only was I not gaining an ounce, all the junk food was making me feel awful!

And I’m embarrassed to admit that when I say I was over indulging on “sweets,” I’m not talking about the delectable homemade variety.  No, I was feasting down on those prepackaged treats and grocery store goodies with a terrible amount of sugar and fat.  It was clearly not one of my better decisions, but I was desperate.  Thankfully, the overindulgence was short lived and I realized the error of my ways.

An image of Italian Chocolate Chip Cookies with Hazelnuts displayed in a row on a white, rectangular shaped ceramic cookie dish.

I had a heart-to-heart talk with my specialist one day.  At the time I didn’t believe a word he was saying. But today I realize how right he was.  He blamed my weight loss on stress.  He told me it was important to acknowledge that I was dealing with depression.  He said to me these words that continue to repeat in my mind, even today.

“Grace your life has been turned upside down.  You’ve had to give up your rewarding career because of this accident.  Your husband passed which is a terrible loss and you’re grieving.  You’re trying to be super mom.  And to top it all off, you’re dealing with the worst case of misplaced guilt.  Something’s got to give”.

I left that appointment thinking the doctor was crazy.  Who did he think he was telling me I was depressed?  But even in that moment I realized that maybe he was at least partly right.  Who wouldn’t be depressed in my situation?

Isn’t it normal to feel a little down when you’ve tragically lost someone you so dearly love?  But another thing my mom might confess to you about me is that I’m also a little stubborn.  Ok.  Maybe a lot stubborn.

A photo of a heap of chocolate chunk hazelnut cookies displayed on a dark wooden board.

I kept telling myself I was dealing with everything just fine.  I would remind myself that I was strong and that I would get through it.  I had to for my children.

I convinced myself there was a “real” medical reason for my not being able to gain weight.  Over the last seven years I returned to the doctor more times than I can count and we had this very conversation over and over again.

That is up until about a year ago.  Finally after all of these years I was finally starting to gain weight.  I immediately attributed it to all the goodies I had been preparing and sharing with you.

And that’s when my doctor hit me with it yet again.  He said, “You still can’t see it or come to terms with it can you, Grace?”

“What do you mean?  See and come to terms with what?!”  That was my thickheaded response.

“Grace you’re finally starting to leave it behind.  You’re starting to come to terms with everything that happened and you’re finally starting to let go of some of the guilt.  Most importantly, you’re starting to forgive.”

A photo of Italian hazelnut cookies displayed on sheets of parchment placed on a dark wooden board and served with a glass of milk resting on a red check cloth napkin.

I’ve been wrestling with what my doctor said to me that day.  It’s just like me to think I have everything figured out.  That certainly was the case for me here.  I knew it had to be all the goodies I’ve been preparing for my newfound passion, this blog.

I do my best to use fresh ingredients and create recipes from scratch using the least amount of prepackaged ingredients.  And although I make quite a few treats I enjoy in moderation, I do make a few (or several) return trips when I make treats like these Hazelnut Cookies.

A photo of hazelnut cookies with chocolate chunks arranged in a row on a rectangular-shaped cedar board.

My doctor was absolutely and completely correct that day and all the other days.  I simply wasn’t ready to see it.

Writing this blog has helped me pick myself up and move forward.  It’s given me the opportunity to engage socially, something that’s been difficult since Moe’s passing.  The day he died didn’t just impact me or the kids and our families.  It also affected our friends.

A photo of Italian cookies on a white cookie dish.

One by one I felt them slipping away, I know it wasn’t because they wanted it that way, but they didn’t know how to deal with everything.  They couldn’t find the words or the actions to make it all better.  At a time when we needed them most, they were not there.

A photo of Italian Cookies on a small dish served with a cup of espresso.

At first I was so hurt.  Why weren’t they here to support us?  Why weren’t they here to listen and be our friend?  Why couldn’t they help us get through this mess?  Where were their shoulders to cry on?

This type of tragedy affects everyone – children, spouse, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and families. That’s true.  But co-workers, the mailman, the newspaper delivery boy and the young girl at the corner café that greets you with your morning coffee also feel it.

The question - why - haunts everyone.  And the dreaded “guilt” isn’t only reserved for the ones that were closest.

A cropped photo of Italian style Chocolate Chip Cookies with Hazelnuts on a white cookie dish displayed on a green cloth napkin.

I’ve come a long way in these last two years and I owe a great deal of it to you.  You took the time to stop in for a visit.  You wrote comments.  You shared a little bit of yourself.  I thank you so much for that.  And most of all, I thank you for allowing me to share with you stories of my life and my family.  Through all of this, you’ve helped me to grow in so many ways.  I wake up with a purpose and I find myself smiling again. You may be seeing me post something simple like these Italian Cookies, but in reality it’s so much more than that.

E. E. Cummings once said, “The eyes of my eyes are opened.”

That’s how I feel sharing stories, recipes, and good food with you.  It’s awakening the inner me.

A photo of Italian Hazelnut Cookies cooling on a black wire rack.

So please enjoy these Hazelnut Cookies with me.  And you might even try them dunked in a freshly brewed cup of coffee.  Know that I’m doing the same and thinking of how grateful I am for you!

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Posted in Baking & Pastry, Baking Mise en Place, Basics, Biscotti, Cookies, Pastry Doughs & Batter, Recipes, Ricette di Base

Comments (29)

29 Responses to “Hazelnut Cookies with Chocolate Chunks {Biscotti alle Nocciole e Cioccolato}”

  1. Kathryn Says:

    Another beautiful post Grace, you write so honestly and openly.

  2. Lauren at Keep It Sweet Says:

    Grace- you are an amazing inspiration! I only hope that things continue to look better and more bright in your future.

  3. Karen Says:

    I am grateful for you and your wonderful blog! When I go into reader and see that you have a new entry, I’m excited to see what wonderful treat you have made. Also, IMHO, you have the most beautiful photos out there in blogland.
    Your story is inspiring and I will definitely try to be a better friend to those who have lost someone close or is ill.

  4. Jeanette Says:

    Grace – such a beautiful and heartfelt post. You have been through so much and you are a strong woman. I am so glad to see that you are gradually going through the healing process. Thank you for sharing your story and your delightful cookies.

  5. Jennifer Essary Says:

    Beautiful photos and a recipe I cannot wait to try with a cup of coffee or tea. Bookmarked and sharing with friends.

  6. Erica Says:

    What an honest and touching post. I’m so happy you’ve begun the process of healing. Keep doing what you love and I’m sure it will continue to get better every day :)

  7. Grace Says:

    Thanks Erica, it’s been a long time coming but it feels so good to keep the bad memories and the past and remember all the good ones.

  8. Grace Says:

    Thank you Jennifer, have a wonderful weekend!

  9. Grace Says:

    Jeanette I’ve been so fortunate to meet genuine, caring people like you through my journey. I thank my lucky stars every day that I sat down on the chair next to you on the bus.

  10. Grace Says:

    Thank you so much Karen!

  11. Susan LaRosa Says:

    Beautiful post. Beautiful story. And beautiful photographs. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Jill Mant~a SaucyCook Says:

    Can I just say Wow? Grace, this is the first time visiting your blog; I assure you it will not be my last. I am a relatively new food blogger and you have given me a new idol and a mentor to look up to. When I first saw your cookies I wondered how it was that you managed to get the scent of the cookies baking and the coffee percolating through the screen. Then when I read your post and saw how fearless you were in revealing the pain of your past, both physical and emotional and how you walked through it and moved passed it, I became a life long fan. You inspire me.

  13. marla Says:

    Wish we had a batch of these for the weekend ~ love those hazelnuts!

  14. nayalie Says:

    I had a taste of these cookies yesterday. So Yummy! I enjoyed every last crumb. I think I ate about 7, I couldn’t resist. A perfect little cookie for when you are sipping some coffee or tea. I would like to order a batch please! :). Great job Grace!

  15. Kiri W. Says:

    I adore hazelnut, and what”s better than chocolate chunk cookies? :)

  16. Liz Says:

    What a touching, revealing post, Grace. I had no idea of your history…I am so sorry for your losses. But I’m also glad that blogging has been a respite for you…you definitely do it well~

  17. Grace Says:

    Thank you Liz, I’ve talked to only a few about it because I think I just wasn’t ready to deal with 100%, do you know what I mean? I was a little torn about sharing but I think it’s important to share the bad with the good because no ones life is perfect and I almost felt in a weird sort of way that I was being deceitful and who knows maybe if I open up and share my experience it will help someone in the same work through their pain.

  18. Grace Says:

    You are so sweet, thank you Jill. Good luck on your new journey and if you need any help please get in touch.

  19. Lora @cakeduchess Says:

    I love these biscotti, Grace and your writing is lovely. You’re a special lady with a huge heart. What a blessing to know you. xo

  20. Betty Goodfellow Says:

    It’s amazing how a connection to friends can help us overcome life’s most difficult events. Your journey has been a struggle, but you’ve kept moving forward. Your honesty is an inspiration to the rest of us.

  21. Sandra Says:

    Thank you for sharing so much of yo.

  22. lyly Says:

    Grace, your cookies are delicious. I love your writing. Have a great weekend

  23. Laura Says:

    I just found you off of Tastespotting and usually when I do that, I don’t comment. But I just wanted to tell you that this is such a beautiful post. Of course the cookies look delicious, but your writing is really lovely (and I don’t even know the full back story). I’ll be sure to come back! Wishing you well.

  24. Grace Says:

    Welcome Laura and thank you for the kind words.

  25. Pot de Crème-Pots de Crème-Crème Chocolat-French Dessert-Pot de Cream | La Mia Vita Dolce Says:

    [...] my sweet treats.  I served my Chocolate Hazelnut Pots de Crème with sweetened whipped cream and Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies (I’ll share the recipe in my next post).  I think I’m safe or rather my treasures are [...]

  26. Recipes: Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies : Perlkönig Says:

    [...] Original recipe: http://gracessweetlife.com/2012/01/hazelnut-cookies-with-chocolate-chunks-biscotti-alle-nocciole-e-cioccolato/ [...]

  27. Rosie Says:

    these look fabulous. Pinning to make soon!

  28. louise Says:

    Grace, I feel as if we wore the same shoes. I also suffered losses (my 20 year old sister passed followed by my dad the following year). Then I had back surgery due to a fall and lost my VP Operations job and had a 2 year old to raise. Your not alone. What wonderful children you have. I love reading your blog and find comfort in your words. When I bake one of your recipes and am asked for the recipe, I tell them, a friend of mine has made La Mia Vita Amaro to La Mia Vita Dolce……you have touched my life and am quite sure the life of many…!

  29. Grace Says:

    Thank you so much Louise. You’re right we really have traveled the same road! I wish we could chat over coffee and enjoy a sweet or two. Thank you for making me feel so good inside! All the best to you and your family, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

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