Although Wharton is better known for novels like The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence, her short ghost stories are equally brilliant. These aren't modern-day slash em' up scary tales, just intelligent vignettes of imperfect people during their most frightening moments. Her inspiration for these tales came from an overwhelming childhood fear....When Edith was nine years old, she became ill with typhoid fever. During her long process of recovery, books became her favorite bedside companions. A playmate loaned her an eerie book about robbers and ghosts. Edith was so upset by the book that she slept with the lights on for the next eight years. In fact, until she was twenty seven years old, she was unable to sleep in a room that contained even a reference to ghosts, even burning books from her own library. Finally, with her childhood fears conquered, she tackled the writing of spooky stories herself, made all the better by her intimate understanding of irrational fear.
My favorite of her ghost stories is All Hollow's Eve. A lonely widow inherits a stately mansion and two terse servants. During her first weekend, she sprains her ankle on a patch of ice and is confined to her bed. She wakes in the middle of the night in pain and rings for her maid. When no one comes, she realizes that the electricity in the house is dead. She limps down to the servant's quarters, but the rooms are empty. A voice, calm and low, is heard from somewhere in the pitch-black house. Should she go and see who it is? Would you????
I won't spoil the tale, but I hope you'll find out for yourself.... In the meantime, here's a cookie, doing double duty as your Bookie treat and as my assignment for Tuesdays with Dorie. It's a crunchy pumpkin biscotti, dipped in frighteningly delicious dark chocolate. Some things, like cookies and ghost stories, are much better in the dark....
Money Saving Tips: Since these cookies use only a small amount of pumpkin puree, you can freeze the extra in zip top baggies for extra use. I used chocolate chips for dipping to save even more.
Dark Chocolate Dipped Pumpkin Biscotti
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan
Estimated Cost: $2.50 for 20
Notes: Pumpkin seeds would be perfect for sprinkling on top of the chocolate. I used what I had-chopped salted peanuts.
1 cup all purpose flour (I used half whole wheat), plus more
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
generous pinch of salt
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon each ginger and cinnamon
3 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted, for dipping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet. In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda, powder, salt, cornmeal, ginger and cinnamon. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in pumpkin puree and egg. Gently mix in flour mixture until just combined; dough will be sticky. Using a generous amount of flour on hands, shape dough into a log, about 1 and 1/2 inches wide and 15 inches long. Bake log for 15 minutes. Cool biscotti for 20 minutes. Gently slice biscotti into 3/4 inch thick slices with a serrated knife. Place on cookie sheet, laying down. Bake for another 15 minutes or until firm. When biscotti are cool, dip in melted chocolate. Sprinkle chocolate with nuts, if desired. Coming Tomorrow:
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