There is this thing we do in the NL, where talk about “koek en zopie” a lot when temperatures drop below zero. It probably doesn’t look like it, but is pronounced close to “cook and so pee”. Which pronunciation, although you lose all meaning, accurately conveys the slight yuck-factor the words have for me. Saying them sends a shiver down my spine, and not a good kind.
Still, the koek en zopie rhetoric fascinates me. Few people seem to know exactly what it means. (Well, “koek” is easy enough; it means cookie or cake. But “zopie”? My hunch stops at something warm and liquid with a high alcohol content.) We associate it with warming our hands around a mug of hot chocolate, but then we buy split pea soup at a koek en zopie stall without batting an eyelash. Best of all, you can happily spend an hour discussing what koek en zopie is, get no nearer to the answer and come away with a legitimate craving for thick, sweet, hot drinks topped with great dollops of whipped cream.
There is a strong bond between koek en zopie and ice skating outside (as opposed to on an indoor rink), but we hardly get to do that anymore. Since I refuse to get out onto something as slippery as ice (ICE, people) with just thin metal blades strapped to my feet, the lack of cold over the past winters doesn’t concern me. What does concern me, however, is that we might not keep the koek en zopie talk going for much longer. Even though that would relieve me of a shivery spine, it would also make me sad. So, for the internets and for generations to come, I will start my own koek en zopie tradition. Over the coming months, when I bake a cookie, I will dream up a hot drink to go with it. And when I come across a great hot drink, I will come up with a cookie to accompany it. And then I will write about the combo, and call it “Koek en Zopie”. Voila, koek en zopie for the cyber-age.
First up: Jess Thomson’s Cinnamon-Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I brought these into the office this Friday (sans coconut; I am not a fan) and they inspired quite a few comments. Of the “are you vegetarian?” type, because apparently that is what millet makes people think. But more, far more, of the “oh my, these are great” type. And they are.
These are wintery cookies, with a chewy bite, crunch from the millet, a cinnamon scent and big chunks of chocolate. They have enough character to stand up to an assertive drink, so for my first koek en zopie pairing, I would like to suggest you eat them with a small cup of strong coffee, scented with a few freshly ground cardamom seeds and a pinch of ground ginger. Spicy koek en zopie to warm you through and through.