With the exception of a brief stint in 8th grade where we read Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, I had never been part of a book club before. I do and have always loved to read and write, in fact, I believe I attempted to pen my first novel on our family computer at the age of about 7, but anyways I digress. Reading for me has always been a fairly solitary activity, a second world that I could escape to at a moment’s notice, immersing myself in the lives and minds of extraordinary characters.
So when I signed myself up to participate in a book club with some friends and a couple of then-strangers, I was more than just a little intimidated. My apprehension was also due in large part to the novel we had tasked ourselves with reading, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. Often referred to as “encyclopaedic” due to its length (1,079 pages and 388 endnotes) Infinite Jest is lauded as one of the best pieces of contemporary American literature in the past decade and is its author’s definitive Magnum Opus.
As luck would have it, the book club meetings weren’t nearly as terrifying as I’d once thought. Everyone was incredibly encouraging and insightful, and listening to their varying perspectives and opinions added an entire new level to my own personal reading of the book. Despite my literary insecurity, I found myself feeling comfortable to make my own observations and participate in the discussions more freely as time went on.
At the end of one of our early sessions at a cafe whose pastry options were sparse, I made a joke about bringing some vegan muffins to our next meet-up, which was surprisingly met with a resounding “yes please”. Rather than a boring old muffin however, I decided to challenge myself and create not one, but two snacks inspired by the book.
The first of which was these lightened-up lemon cookies, affectionately named Infinite Zest cookies.
- FOR THE COOKIES
- ½ cup organic coconut oil, melted
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- 3 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
- 2 tbsp grated lemon zest (3 medium sized lemons)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cups organic unbleached flour (use a GF baking blend if gluten-free)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- FOR THE GLAZE
- ½ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
- ¼ cup agave syrup
- 1-2 tsp stevia to taste
- 1-2 tsp cornstarch
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F and line a baking sheet
- In a large bowl, beat together the coconut oil, coconut sugar until well incorporated. Add in the almond milk, lemon zest and vanilla and beat for another minute or so.
- Add in half the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Mix well and add in remaining flour until a soft dough forms.
- Scoop the dough onto the baking sheet in rounded spoonfuls and flatten with your hand or a fork before baking for 10-12 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown. You may think they're undercooked because of how white they look, but look out for the bottoms. If you let the top brown, the bottoms will likely be too far gone.
- Prepare the healthy glaze by blitzing ingredients togehter in high-speed blender.
- Let cool completely before drizzling with glaze and additional zest
In full disclosure, I feel the need to tell you that the cookies are pictured with a traditional icing sugar glaze. The cashew based version is superior, in my mind but is slightly more liquid and may not harden in the same way. That said I actually prefer the cookies sans glaze – they are the tart yet sweet, soft and incredibly fragrant. The ideal accompaniment to a cup of tea and a good book, if you ask me.
As for the book, I’ll be honest and admit that I have yet to complete it. With only a couple hundred-or-so pages to go, I have neared the end but every time I go to pick it up I find myself unable to engage. Its an extraordinary book, incredibly multifaceted, and DFW’s writing style is a joy; peppered with dark humour while frighteningly honest at the same time. Infinite Jest is unlike anything I have ever read before and, in my opinion, requires complete concentration and focus to master. Rather than force it and sour my relationship with the book (pardon the citrus pun), I’ve decided to move on to other books in the interim and come back to it when the time is right.
Until next time dear readers!