Before I get to these lovelies, (which I’m sure you’re dying to try) I have been reminiscing of high school gym class. Worst yet, first day of gym class as a freshman. Oh, and it’s co-ed. For me, nothing could have been worse. I wasn’t uncoordinated or even the last to be picked for teams in gym, so it wasn’t about that portion. It was about the vulnerability. That ever-present reality of who you were standing there in rows, waiting for warm up in that all too often awkward gym uniform, while sizing up who could be below you. It wasn’t like your academic classes, where you could hide your test scores or become the shadow on the wall (at least you were in your full clothing to say the least).
But gym class. For the dreadfully modest, awkward body shapes, and lack of strengthened muscles–it was like watching the “all humiliation channel.” And for a person who has never been the “jock,” I think that’s what working out/exercising can be like at times. So when I was considering joining Jogo Crossfit, it was as if all these fears of 9th grade gym class flooded my system. Was I going to be able to keep up? How out of shape am I? What if I can’t do the exercises required? What if people are sizing me up? Oi Vye! The night before my first class I got those butterflies in my stomach (along with the multiple questions).
Yet, what I found was something so different. When we were set up doing running warm ups, I was without a partner, which meant I would run by myself. I was fine with this, but so surprised by one of my fellow Jogo teammates, that he came back to run every single warm up with me. He did double time. Everyone was encouraging me saying, “Good job!” But not in that, “we’re saying this because we have to” way, but in the, “I’ve been there, we’ve all been there..and you’re honestly doing a good job,” way. I never thought you could be hospitable in a gym setting, but I feel like I found it here. It’s community being embraced. It’s working as hard as you can without sizing someone up and encouraging others toward the goal. It’s vulnerability and allowing others to see my weaknesses, while embracing where I’m at without comparison.
It’s hard, really hard, but good. In fact, I think it was due to me getting some hardcore exercise that gave me energy to make these here cookies. I’ve had them on the dock in my memory bank for a while and I think I hit a home run with them. They make use of the ever abundant summer zucchini (so why just use it for zucchini bread?). The honey-anise cream cheese brings it together with great harmony. I love the soft taste of zucchini with the licorice-fennel taste of the anise and crunch of the walnuts. And if you just exercised a bit, then these whole wheat & unrefined sugar treats won’t make you feel like it was done in vain. So what are you waiting for?
Zucchini Walnut Anise Sandwich Cookies (printable recipe)
These cookies have an every so subtle hint of anise, which pairs lovely with the summer zucchini & honeyed cream cheese. And by using whole wheat flour you feel a bit healthier eating more than one cookie. Use a box grater for the zucchini and be sure to squeeze out the water, as zucchini is full of it.
Zucchini Walnut Anise Cookies:
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup Sucanat sugar
1/4 cup rapadura sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp anise extract flavoring
1 1/4 cup grated zucchini, squeeze out the additional water
2/3 cup toasted & chopped walnuts
Honey-Anise Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounce cream cheese
1/4 cup honey, mild flavor
2 tsp anise extract
Directions: Pre-heat oven to 350. Combine all the dry ingredients into a small bowl. Beat the butter for 30 seconds on medium speed in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Add in both sugars & beat on medium speed for another 30 seconds. Scrape the sides down. With the mixer on low-speed, add the egg & anise extract. Mix until combined. While the mixer is still on low-speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until completely combined. Squeeze out the water in the zucchini before you add it to the dough. Add the zucchini and mix until it is evenly distributed. Then, add the walnuts and briefly mix just until they are combined.
On parchment lined sheets, drop one tablespoon of dough at a time, 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Put on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to foil or parchment sheet.
Make frosting: Put cream cheese in bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 30 seconds on medium speed. Add honey & anise flavoring, beat for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Putting together: Put about 2 Tb of frosting on one upside down cookie and take another cookie (without frosting) and sandwich together. Makes about 15-20 cookie sandwiches.