Keli’s Candlemas Cookies by Jennifer David Hesse

A vegan treat made with fresh oranges and poppy seeds

Candlemas, celebrated on February 2, is an old holiday with both Pagan and Christian roots. For Wiccans like Keli (heroine of the Wiccan Wheel Mysteries), it’s a cross-quarter seasonal celebration, halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Although it might still be cold in some parts of the world, there are signs that spring is on its way. Days gradually become longer and warmer. The sun is coming back. This is cause for celebration!

These cookies are perfect for Candlemas, because seeds symbolize growth and oranges are the sunshine fruit. They also work well as Yuletide treats. (Oh, and since Keli is vegan, they are egg and dairy free!)

Yield: Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies


* Use all organic ingredients if possible, especially the orange

1/2 cup Earth Balance (or other vegan buttery spread)
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon orange zest (grated from approx. one orange)
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 – 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, as needed



Preheat oven to 350°F

Soften the Earth Balance buttery spread

Mix together the Earth Balance and sugar

Add the orange zest and vanilla; mix well

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt

Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, a little at a time; stir until well combined

Fold in the poppy seeds

The mixture will be slightly crumbly. Add one or two tablespoons of fresh squeezed o.j. for additional moisture as needed

Roll into small balls, flatten slightly, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just turning golden around the edges

Cool on the cookie sheet for a minute or two, then transfer to a plate

Eat immediately or store in an airtight container



A new year has barely begun and Edindale, Illinois, family law attorney Keli Milanni already has her hands full at work. But her private practice—as a Wiccan—may cause her worlds to collide…

The Wiccan holiday of Candlemas is right around the corner, but when vandals target New Age gift shop Moonstone Treasures, the mood is far from festive. Frightening threats and accusations of witchcraft aimed at the owner have some Wiccan patrons calling it a hate crime. And when things escalate to murder, the community turns to Keli…

As a friend and customer, Keli wants to help. But there’s one problem: she’s fiercely private about her religion. How can she stop the harassment, not to mention catch a killer, while keeping her faith hidden from her colleagues, clients, and her promising—and long awaited—new boyfriend? At a time meant to banish darkness, will Keli have to choose between risking the spotlight and keeping her beliefs locked in the proverbial broom closet? Or will she call on her deepest convictions to conjure the perfect path?…