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I unwittingly discovered the perfect use for Dorie’s cafe volcano cookies this past weekend.  Road food.  As trail mix is to hikers, these cookies are to long-distance drivers.  Each cookie is basically a handful of nuts held together by sugar and espresso powder.  Since my long drives are usually fueled by coffee and Snickers bars, this snack fit the bill.

How did I discover these make perfect road food?  My husband and I planned a weekend trip to visit his family in Florida this past weekend.  His sister had a baby in October and we hadn’t met her yet.  So we packed up the kids and the dog, and headed south on I-95 for the 650-mile trek.  To keep everyone happy, I packed a little container of these cafe volcano cookies.

On the morning of our drive, my 2-year-old son woke up later than usual, which was odd.  As we picked up our coffee and bagels at a local bakery, he sneezed a bit more than usual.  Four hours into the drive, his eyes were watery and his nose was running.  Yup, another cold.  The CDC should really put a monitor on this boy, because I’m certain that all viruses in the Southeast run through his little body at some point in their life cycle.  We called my husband’s family in Florida to break the news and, with enormous regret, they told us to turn around.  The newborn baby has had a number of serious health issues since her birth and she can’t be around anyone who’s ill.

So we turned the car around just north of the Georgia border and I was thankful for two things.  First, they seem to have torn down at least 90 percent of those ridiculous South of the Border sign that littered I-95 all these years.  And second, I had a good stash of these little nuggets of almonds, sugar, and espresso on our epic drive to nowhere.  Every now and then, particularly while passing by the same cotton field or run-down motel we’d seen earlier that day, I’d pop another cookie and be good for at least 100 miles more.

When my husband and I got home, we put the kids to bed, and I asked: “What just happened?”  The whole thing was absurd, surreal.  My husband said, “I had a nice day with you today.”  I stared at him for a full  minute without speaking, and then thought about how we’d spent this Beckett play of a day.  The four of us, plus the dog, were all crowded together in the car, noshing on bagels and cream cheese, listening to great music on the iPod, flipping through Richard Scarry books.  Occasionally, we’d stop to walk the dog or let the kids stretch their legs.  And, of course, we had the cookies for sustenance.  Light, crispy, nutty, crunchy.  Against all reason, my husband was right.  That surreal day in the car turned out to be rather sweet.

Thanks to MacDuff of the Lonely Sidecar for selecting these cafe volcano cookies.  You can find the recipe on his site or on page 153 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.

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