The day my son figured it all out

Since my son was born with food allergies (or I guess he technically could have just developed them very early; he began to have severe eczema at four months old, reacting to proteins from the food I ate), and therefore had a restricted diet from the first time he ate solid food, he’s never really known what he’s missing. So his older sister has always been able to eat ice cream or cake or a sucker right in front of him, and as long as I gave him a banana or applesauce, he was happy. For his second birthday, I made him soy-banana “ice cream,” and he took one bite, and rejected it. I think he was thrown off by the coldness, and figured he’d just as soon eat a real banana. I’ve always considered his naivete an advantage, and often wondered how long my luck would last.

Last week, it pretty much ran dry. I picked him up from Mother’s Morning Out, and his teacher handed me a gift bag, from one of the other boys in his class. Townes was trying to rip the bag open, eager to get at his gift. We walked to a chair, and I untied the bag and started pulling out the contents. One after another, I pulled out and handed to my little guy pieces of candy, and with each one I had to say, “Sorry, buddy. You can’t eat this one.” So then we had a small pile of treats, gifts from his friend at school, that he couldn’t eat. And he started to cry — big, honestly sad tears.

Don’t get me wrong — this is not a complaint about the sweet mom who decided to give a small gift to the other children in his class. I never expect others to cater to Townes’s allergies, especially since they are so weird. I’ve yet to meet another child who is allergic to milk and corn (plus various and sundry list of other things, like peanuts and cherries). The milk is a bit easier to deal with, since it is easily replaceable in recipes, and is always labeled on food packages. The corn, well, it’s in everything (just as Michael Pollan), and — to my utter frustration — does not have to be labeled. So everything from maltodextrin to citric acid can be translated C-O-R-N. And while I am thankful that there are now many resources available to help a weary mother feed an allergic child, it doesn’t make it any easier to see your child realize, fully and finally, that he’s missing out.

So, I did what any mom would do: I held his tear-streaked face in my hands, looked him square in the eyes, and said, “Baby, I’m gonna make you some COOKIES!!!”

Which I’ve never really done before. After the soy-banana ice cream debacle, there didn’t seem to be any reason to find dessert recipes that fit his needs. Until late this summer, we also mistakenly thought he was allergic to egg, which made those efforts even more cumbersome. But yesterday I sat down and went to I don’t normally peruse that site in search of food ideas, but they have a great search feature that allows you to list ingredients that you do and don’t want included. So I plugged in the appropriate food friends and foes, and searched for cookies. And landed fairly quickly on a recipe that actually looked quite normal. Meaning, I and the rest of my family would probably enjoy them, too.

They are called Chocolate Crinkles. When I read the recipe, they immediately reminded me of a cookie they sell at a local bakery. The bakery calls them Double Chocolate Cookies, and look identical to the ones I made, with the addition of chocolate chips (hence the name). The ones at the bakery were always my first choice in their cookie selection — and while I don’t really think mine match up, they are still good cookies. Cakey, soft, rich chocolate. The powdered sugar adds some initial sweetness, but I think it’s there more for the powdery texture and color contrast. I wonder what would make mine as good as the bakery’s; maybe just the addition of chocolate chips, or perhaps it’s a different recipe altogether (perhaps they use cocoa powder rather than unsweetened chocolate?). I might not ever know — the place has new ownership, and now they stubbornly won’t discuss their recipes (I’m not a fan of recipe stingies).

But these cookies are a start. If they look good to you, you can find the recipe here. Note that the recipe doesn’t call for the chocolate to be melted and slightly cooled — but that’s what it should have said. If you’re feeling adventurous, add chocolate chips and let me know how it goes. Although I’ll probably be trying that myself, since these will become a staple in my newly-initiated “Little Man Treats” repertoire.

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