2020-12-03

Recipe: Maple Sugar Cookies

Leaves of Acer saccharum, sugar maple, Inwood Hill Park, November 2015

Living in New York City most of my life, I'm not in what one would think of as "maple country". But the northeast is rich with sugarbushes - the forests of maple trees from which sap is harvested and boiled down to make this nectar of the gods. And probably every NYC Greenmarket (farmers' market) has at least one farmer that sells maple syrup and other maple prodcuts, even if it's not their primary business.

The key ingredient to this recipe is DARK maple syrup. If you only have regular/light maple syrup, to keep the mapley flavor, you can use that and add 1/8 teaspoon of real maple flavoring, available from specialty baking suppliers.

The extra spices are optional. I found the ginger and cloves enhance the mapleness of these cookies.

Ingredients

Double, as needed. Do not attempt to halve this recipe; it calls for one egg.

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted (“sweet”) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup DARK maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (I really like vanilla. Original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon)
  • Optional: 1/8 teaspoon real maple flavor, either to make up for lack of dark maple syrup, or to boost the flavor
  • Optional: ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • Optional: 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Optional: ½ teaspoon salt (I nearly always omit this from my baking. These cookies don’t need it.)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (Original recipe called for 2 teaspoons, and the cookies came out more poofey/cakey than sugary. Still experimenting with this.)
  • 4 cups white whole wheat flour, sifted (The flavor of these cookies is too delicate for full whole wheat flour. I think a whole wheat pastry flour would work even better.)
  • Optional: maple sugar or white granulated sugar, for decoration

Preparing the Dough

  1. Cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the maple syrup, vanilla, and your chosen flavorings.
  3. Scrap down the bowl, blend thoroughly, and taste to adjust, as needed.
  4. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
  5. Add the baking soda and mix thoroughly.
  6. Add the flour gradually, blending at slower speed, until all flecks of flour are gone. 

Chill the Dough

The original recipe didn’t call for chilling the dough. You could make a batch right away, but the dough will be soft.

It’s easier to work with if you first chill it, covered tightly to keep out air, for at least two hours.

Baking

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. (This recipe might work better at 375F, to brown the cookies a bit more.)
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Scoop out tablespoon sized balls of dough.
  4. If you want, roll them in the sugar.
  5. Set them far apart on the cookie sheet. They will spread.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes.
  7. Let the cookies cool on the sheet until they are firm enough to remove.
Maple Sugar Cookies, November 2020

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This recipe is adapted from “Maple Cookies” from AllRecipes.

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