Posts Tagged ‘bake’

A little taste of Canada

August 30, 2013

I recently traveled to Canada and deliberately left space in my bag to bring home some maple syrup. Liquid gold, as it’s known up North. People don’t play around with this stuff.

Searching for a delightful treat to bake one weekend, I happened across a simple cookie recipe that calls for some maple syrup in the batter. Perfect! What better way to highlight the precious syrup than a plain butter cookie made with maple syrup. I am happy to report that everyone who tasted it thought it was incredible. It comforts me to know that it’s not always the sweets dripping with frosting or the complicated recipes that require just the right timing and temperature that are the most pleasing.

Maple Cookies

maple flavored fish shaped cookies

Maple Leaves

from from The Cookie Jar

  • 1 c butter
  • ⅕ c shortening
  • 2 c sugar
  • ½ c maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 6 c flour
  • ½ t salt
  1. Cream the butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the syrup, eggs, vanilla and beat until smooth.
  3. Add the salt to the flour and mix.
  4. Stir the flour into the liquid ingredients until a soft dough forms.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to ¼" thickness.
  6. Cut cookies and place on a greased baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 350F for 7-9 minutes until the bottoms are just browning.

Notes and Variations

There aren’t many variations to make to this recipe, just a few notes. First of all, the dough was incredibly crumbly once I combined all the ingredients. My solution to this was to knead it by hand a bit. The dough resembled a gingerbread consistency with a ton of flour and the shortening which I think helped it maintain its shape and not just melt when handled which butter-based doughs tend to do.

Maple Cookie Dough

the crumbly dough of the maple cookies. don’t worry! it got better with hand kneading.

My cookies were mostly fish shaped, which is just a personal preference. For the record, I was thinking of maple smoked salmon when I used the fish cookie cutter so it wasn’t totally random! The original recipe calls for leaf shapes and recommends using a few drops of food coloring in water to brush the cookies after baking them so they become the color of Autumn leaves. I just wanted a tasty cookie and couldn’t be bothered. Let me tell you, once that maple flavor hits the tongue, people don’t remember what the shape of the cookie was, let alone the tinted color! But I bet they’d be beautiful. Please show me if you try it!

Finally, the original recipe called for 1 teaspoon of maple flavoring in addition to the maple syrup. I was appalled. First of all, I traveled all the way to Canada to get this maple syrup, I’m not going to use a "flavoring" to enhance it! Secondly, how can maple flavoring be better than just using the real thing?! Third, where am I supposed to find maple flavoring? (Probably a baking store. But that’s a pain.) Fortunately, I had a solution: I also bought some maple butter in Canada so I spread a thin layer of this on some of the cookies. Problem solved! If I were really bothered by the lack of color in my maple fish cookies, I could have tinted the maple butter. But I was primarily concerned with the taste, so I just ate them!

Tis Not the Season

July 31, 2013

Pumpkin season is Fall and, although it finally cooled off and is fast approaching, we’re far from seeing bulbous orange vegetables at the markets. Yet I had an insatiable craving for pumpkin bread recently, right in the middle of a heat wave. Perhaps I yearned for the carefree Summer days of childhood and settled for a favorite childhood recipe instead. Whatever Freudian reason for my craving, I was wonderfully prepared with a spare can of pumpkin sitting in the kitchen, waiting for such a day.

Pumpkin Bread

My best rendition of a childhood favorite.

Pumpkin Bread

from childhood friends via a 1998 email

  • ½ c sugar
  • ½ c vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c pumpkin (puréed)
  • 1⅓ c flour
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ½ t baking powder
  • ½ t nutmeg
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • ¼ c raisins
  • 2 T marmalade
  • ⅔ c water
  1. Beat sugar and oil together until light and creamy.
  2. Beat in eggs until well blended.
  3. Stir in pumpkin and mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.
  5. Add raisins to the flour mixture.
  6. Mix flour and raisins into liquid ingredients until combined.
  7. Grease and flour the loaf pan.
  8. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

Equipment

  • loaf pan 4"x9" (approximate)

Notes and Variations

I had a thought while mixing the ingredients: can I add marmalade? The inspiration came from my mother’s pumpkin pie recipe in which she uses marmalade and grand marnier (I’ll share the goodness soon!). Once again, it must have been some childhood influence that has forever married pumpkin with orange marmalade in my mind. The good news: it worked! The consistency of the bread was not altered at all and the taste was, as always, great.

Vicarious Vacation

July 13, 2013

My parents recently took a vacation to New Orleans. Although I was unable to join them, I helped plan the trip, gave them suggestions on where to stay and what to see, and (lucky me!) got a treat when they returned: pralines! So tasty but not really something I’ll make because of how fatty they are.

Since I was involved in planning the trip but not actually there in the bayou with them, I took my own vacation through food. I made jambalaya and pecan cookies (instead of pralines) during their time in New Orleans, all while listening to some old time jazz and zydeco. I think this is my new cheap alternative to a trip: cook the cuisine!

Maple-Nut Wreaths

the assembly of the maple-nut wreaths

Maple-Nut Wreaths

from The Cookie Jar

  • 1 c butter
  • ½ c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2½ c flour
  • 2 c pecans
  • ½ c maple syrup
  1. Chop pecans (easier in a food processor) until very fine.
  2. Toast the pecans for a minute or so to get the most flavor out of them.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla to the butter/sugar and mix until well blended.
  5. Add the flour and stir to combine.
  6. Mix ¼c of this mixture in a separate bowl with the pecans and maple syrup. (This is the filling.)
  7. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Use a pastry tube, cookie press, or your hands to form the dough into 4" strips, about ½" thick.
  9. Curl each strip into a circle by joining the ends.
  10. Place a teaspoon of the maple-nut filling in the center of each dough circle.
  11. Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes until the bottom of the cookies starts to brown.

Notes and Variations

Despite the number of steps, this is really a simple recipe. The base is a shortbread cookie formed into a ring and the filling is mostly nuts and syrup mixed together. The recipe in The Cookie Jar calls for a cookie press. I had to look it up. It seems superfluous to me. Why not just use a pastry tube with a star shaped tip to get ridges in the "wreaths"? I actually rolled them out by hand which was tricky in my 80F kitchen. To keep the dough from just melting I stored it in the fridge and took out small batches at a time.

In the end, I didn’t have ridged lines in my cookie wreaths, they were a bit thicker than they should be, and I could have cooked them longer than 15 minutes, but they certainly tasted good! Also, I had a bunch of extra filling – a problem which probably would have been solved had the dough wreaths been thinner and not rolled by hand. Luckily, the problem was easily solved by my "assistant" who grabbed a spoon and made the extra filling disappear!