Almond Wedding Cookies

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Finally, the cat’s out of the bag and we can all talk about the fact that Bailey and Matt got MARRIED! It was hard to keep it a secret, but the reactions of the surprised guests made it all worth it. Also, prepare yourself for a deluge of photos in this one.

I flew home Thursday night, gritting my teeth through another flight. Dad picked me up and drove me home, where Cristy, Mom, and Emma were waiting with dinner and ice cream—talk about a good reception. The next day Bailey, Emma, Mom, Cathy and I went to get our nails done. I lectured everyone on the importance of choosing a color that did not give the “dead-feet” look (very important for us pale-footed folk) and we all settled in to be pampered for one of the only relaxing moments of the weekend.

After our nails were done we went home to shovel food into our mouths, then got to work on food-prep for that evening, when Matt’s family and Auntie Wendy’s family would be coming over for dinner. All thoughts of actually getting homework done were quickly thrown out the window, and I soon found myself making cookies for dessert.

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Bailey walked into my parent’s house with a stunning ring on her finger and an uncontrollable grin on her face to match the one on Matt’s. We spent the rest of the evening poring over the ring, eating tacos, and excitedly going over the wedding plans. Cristy and I drove to pick Jonji up at 11pm and went to bed right when we got home.

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The next day dawned sunny and warm, and everyone had an assigned task. My all-important job was making chocolate chip cookies for the party, as per Matt’s request. Once again homework time was minimal, and I was over at Bailey and Matt’s around 2pm. As people started arriving, we mingled and nervously awaited the signal. Finally, I was called into the house around 4:30. We attempted to chivvy people out of the guest room so that we could change, without arousing too much suspicion. Eventually the house was cleared, and I got into my bridesmaids dress while Bailey put on her wedding dress. Last minute adjustments to hair and jewelry were made, and a lot of shouting and laughing commenced as we frantically tried to figure out if everything was going to plan. Finally, we were told to get ready to walk.

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Photos: Naveen Hattis

We had a few moments in the new kitchen, just my dad, Emma, Bailey, and I, all feeling butterflies in our stomachs as we heard the crowd grow quieter. The James Taylor song began to play, and then Bailey couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t keep my own tears back as I looked back at her in a white dress, her eyes streaming with happy tears, holding onto Dad’s arm. Bailey, the one who threw stuffed animals back and forth with me across our beds for hours one Christmas Eve, the girl who has shamelessly belted out Aretha Franklin every holiday season for the last several years, and the little blonde girl who I can still see catching fuzzy moths on purple flowers when we were four and five, was getting married. I felt for a few heartbeats that I was floating in our memories, the ones that we so closely shared for so many years. Being only 17 months apart, sometimes we felt like twins, inseparable for so long.

A few seconds later I was told to walk outside, leaving her to start a new phase in her life, one in which I wasn’t the principal participant.

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Photo: Naveen Hattis

Feeling like a little girl, I threw rose petals down the aisle as gracefully as I could manage, and saw comprehension dawning on everyone’s faces. There were more cheers along that aisle than any other wedding I’ve been to, as Emma followed along behind me, with Bailey, Dad, and Pippin taking up the rear. As Dad delivered Bailey to Matt at the archway, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the yard.

Processed with Snapseed.

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Photos: Tyson Oldroyd and Naveen Hattis

Tyler officiated, and he brought a wonderful level of comedy to the event. He ended the whole thing by pronouncing them (as I had helped him to remember) “bonded for life!” That’s a Harry Potter wedding reference, in case you didn’t know. Cheers rose as Matt and Bailey kissed and raised their arms in celebration, and the whole party broke out into excited chatter and a few more tears.

Processed with Snapseed.

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img_9570Photos: Tyson Oldroyd and Naveen Hattis

The rest of the party passed by in a blur. Everyone wanted to relive the exciting moment of the surprise, and celebrate the important event. The line for the taco truck remained constant until they ran out of food, and the cupcakes and cookies disappeared within five minutes of their release. Night crept over the house and the fairy lights came on, the music was turned up, and the dancing began.

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Processed with Snapseed.
Processed with Snapseed.

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Photos: Tyson Oldroyd and Naveen Hattis

The next day Jonji and I flew home. As we took off, I wished more than ever that we could live closer to home. It’s strange to think that we’re old enough to make our own families (and I mean by marrying someone, for now). I will always think of Bailey as the loud, brave girl who confronted other children catching frogs in order to receive a piece of gum. It comforts me to know that she’s with a guy who will let her play Christmas music on scary nighttime car rides to make her feel safer—I know I would struggle to put up with it. It also helps that Matt looks so much like Samwise Gamgee, which has always been a bonus for me. And Bailey makes a pretty darn-good Rosie Cotton.

In the spirit of the wedding, I’m posting a recipe for my take on the Mexican wedding cookie. My version has almonds rather than walnuts, and I like to poke a well in the middle for jam. I did not make these for the wedding, but I’m sure they would have been a hit. I’m just not one to deny Samwise chocolate chip cookies on his special day.

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Almond Wedding Cookies
makes 18 cookies

3/4 cup almonds
3 tbsp white rice flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp oat flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/6 cup sugar (eyeball it if you have to)

30 g cold cream cheese, cut into chunks
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened and cut into chunks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Add the almonds, rice and oat flours, salt, baking soda, and sugar to a food processor and pulse until the almonds are coarsely chopped. Add the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and pulse just until the dough comes together.

Use a tablespoon to make small balls of dough, and place them on a parchment-covered or greased baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes, until slightly golden on the bottom.

If adding jam, immediately press the centers of the cookies halfway down with a wooden spoon once you remove them from the oven. Let cool completely, then spoon jam into each well.

Use a sieve to dust powdered sugar over the tops. Enjoy!

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