Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Walnuts for Día de los Muertos in Albania

We’ve been baking up a veritable storm of cookies over the last few weeks, and it all started with these amazing Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Walnuts that we made to celebrate Día de los Muertos here in Albania this fall!

Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Walnuts
Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Walnuts–in honor of my father

When our family lived in Mexico last year, we really immersed ourselves fully in the language, the culture, and of course the food! Unfortunately, we left our tiny little town on the beach just two weeks before the days-long partying that is Día de los Muertos. Fortunately, it was for a brief return to the U.S., where Our Little Sous met his grandparents in person for the very first time! Little did we realize that that would be the only time he would have to laugh and joke with his maternal grandfather.

For those of you Fun Food Fans who may be unfamiliar with the Day of the Dead festivities, you’ll likely recognize some of the attire and traditional look of this holiday. After getting all painted up for two successive days and walking the streets here in Tirana, Albania, I know that many of my friends and neighbors here are now more aware of the beauty and honor imbued in these incredible cultural celebrations.

Mexican Catrina in Albania
Head Chef Karen Ricks in Catrina face paint, Día de los Muertos, Albania

Besides just getting all painted up and decked out in fancy clothes, families will take the time to decorate alters to their ancestors, replete with flowers, favorite foods, photographs, and more. Then there are parades and marching bands making their way down the streets, fabulous family dinners, picnics in graveyards, prayers, candlelight vigils in the evenings, and a general sense of revelry. There is a real reverence for life and a true respect for death.

A rich and creamy Linguini with Clams and Shrimp, one of my dad’s favorites!To honor my father, we opted to make a feast out of some of his favorite dishes. It was an even more joyous celebration of food, family, and fond flavors, as the evening included a few things we haven’t had much of recently, including seafood and walnuts (not in the same dish).

Linguini with Clams and Shrimp

I wrote about my dad’s love of this particular seafood pasta dish earlier this year. It was a refreshing change of pace to incorporate seafood into our diet again, as we’d been busy exploring a lot of the different grilled meats and fresh produce that is so very popular in Albanian cuisine for a few months. The surprising pop of brininess against the creamy backdrop of the sauce in this dish makes this a sort of comfort food that will always have a special place in our hearts!

And then, of course, we were on to the cookie baking!!! Our Little Sous opted to jump *behind* the camera on this particular prep day. Take a look at what he captured:

We’ve been having so much fun mixing and scooping, baking and sharing these moist and marvelous treats, we decided to prepare a number of different varieties! We mixed up the types of chocolate and nuts. We added cocoa powder to some batches for *extra* chocolate-y flavor, and we left it out in others. We even added a plethora of different extracts and changed up the fats in the cookie batches to amp up the flavor!

Double Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Double Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Almond Mascarpone Cream

We’re going to be baking loads more cookies, as well as breads and pies, too, as we head into the end-of-year holidays over the next couple months. If you’d like to learn some of the secrets to making our favorite pastries and sweet treats this holiday season, now’s the time to sign up for our PLAY with Your Dough Masterclass! (Registration for this Masterclass is now closed. Please leave us your name and e-mail address on our Contact Page so you can be notified of the next session AND other upcoming courses!)

This special live virtual cooking event will help you practice baking up stress-free fun for the whole family! Learn how to make delicious bread, cookies, and pie *with* your children, and have fun learning together while you do! Sign up now, before all 12 spots fill up. I look forward to seeing you on the inside!!!

More Chocolate Chunk Cookies, please!
More Chocolate Chunk Cookies, please!