Every year, the older I get, the more I appreciate Advent. Every year I love the grief and the hope more, the reminders of joy, the candles, the sometimes somber hymns. I loved Advent as a little girl because I loved sitting with my family and lighting the Advent candles, every week another one until we get to Christmas. But as an adult Advent feels like a gift unto itself, something that teaches me something new every year, a continual unwrapping of meaning and symbolism. And to be honest, it is not just a gift; it is something I desperately need.
The third week (this week) is always the hard one for me. The rest are easy: hope (yes, always) peace (yes, we could use a lot of that) and love (love love love). But joy is the hard one, because looking around it is so easy to question what there is to be joyful about. I, like so many other people, am so worried about the world right now. There is so much to grieve about and so much to be worried about.
And now is where I take the time to tell you how much I have appreciated the words of Sarah Bessey recently. I’ve been reading through her Advent posts this year, and the joy one made something click for me. And then her post entitled The Resistance has stuck with me for months (and there is a lot of overlap with the joy post). Go read it, but the gist of it is this: by being joyful in things, in normal every day life things, we are not necessarily burying our heads in the sand but resisting darkness.
Joy. Joy. Joy. So much to be joyful for in these days. Love. Goodness. How many people care about love and goodness. Christmas traditions and Christmas carols. Hot chocolate. Candles. Books. Laughter. Music. Cookies.
These are a childhood favorite for so many of us, but the thing that makes these stand out from the recipe I had as a child is that I replaced some of the flour with cocoa powder. It amps up the chocolate flavor and makes them so much better.
- 4 (1 oz.) unsweetened chocolate baking squares
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- In a small microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate in microwave until melted, about 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.
- In a large bowl, combine the chocolate, sugar, and vegetable oil. Beat with electric mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add the eggs and vanilla, mixing well.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt and whisk together. Slowly add the dry ingredients to chocolate mixture, beating on low speed just until combined. Use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl and make sure everything is combined.
- 5. Cover dough and chill for 2 hours, until it is firm enough to be rolled into balls.
- 6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet (or line with parchment paper).
- 7. Place powdered sugar in a bowl or shallow dish. Roll the chilled dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Then roll the balls in powdered sugar, shaking off the excess. Place them 2 inches apart on baking sheet.
- 8. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, let them cook on the pans for a minute or two, and then transfer them to wire racks to finish cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature.