Every year for the past three years we have a get together with our neighbors down the road, Trish and Jay. Each family bakes some cookies and we have a mid-winter gathering of sugary gluttony. Trish dubbed this soirée “geek fest” because we drag out the latest e-toys. This year Trish invited our new neighbors Lisa and John.
Cookies are a favorite of mine. I love baking them, but mostly I love eating them. As I was wondering what to make this year I picked up a copy of Fine Cooking magazine’s “Cookies” and started browsing through. Almost immediately after turning a page I knew what I was making. Glazed Maple-Pecan Cookies, which I adapted to Glazed Maple Walnut Cookies.
Our neighbor, Dick, who lives up the street a bit has a sugar bush that pumps out hundreds if not thousands of gallons of sap every year, which he boils down to syrup. Now maybe I’m prejudiced but Dick’s maple syrup is out of this world….and limited in supply. So when Dick offered us a small jug three years ago we took him up on it and enjoyed it rather quickly. French toast, pancakes, and drizzled over home-made yogurt.
When we ran out this year I asked Dick if he had any left and to our delight he did. One half-gallon, of which we are now the proud owners. It’s doubtful if it will last long, especially after finding this recipe. It’s an easy recipe and it’s made extra special by the use of Dick’s syrup.
The recipe below is slightly modified from the original Glazed Maple-Pecan Cookie recipe found at Fine Cooking. Lacking any maple flavoring except for syrup I wondered what a suitable substitute would be. I settled on Boyajian’s pure orange oil to add a whisper of orange.
Orange oil is a trick I learned at the Culinary Institute of America when working with chocolate truffles. Just a bit adds a complex, almost indistinguishable flavor profile. For this recipe I used only one-half teaspoon of Boyajian’s. It’s a really nice compliment to the maple syrup. The only other change I made was substituting toasted walnuts for the toasted pecans. I mean, walnuts and maple are part of the grand scheme of nature.
I’m also bringing the ground cherry pie from a previous post. Check it out here.
What maple syrup memory do you have that brings back springtime?
- For the dough:
- - 11-1/4 ounces (2-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
- - ½ teaspoon table salt
- - ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- - ¾ cup granulated sugar
- - ¼ cup very firmly packed, very fresh dark brown sugar
- - ½ teaspoon orange oil (Boyajian's)
- - 6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, slightly softened
- - 1 large egg, at room temperature
- - ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- - 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- - 8 ounces (2 cups) toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
- - For the glaze:
- - ¾ cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
- - ¼ cup pure maple syrup, warmed
- - Hot water as needed for thinning
- Mix the dough: Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. In a food processor, pulse the granulated and brown sugars to blend and then add the maple flavoring. Pulse five or six times and then process for 15 seconds. Scrape the bowl to be sure all of the flavoring has been incorporated. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-low speed until very smooth, about 2 min. Add the sugar mixture in three additions. Mix until lightened in color, about another 3 min. Add the egg and then the maple syrup and vanilla, mixing just until blended. Scrape the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Mix in the dry ingredients in three additions, and then add the pecans and mix just until blended.
- Shape the dough: Have ready three 15-inch sheets of plastic wrap. Portion the dough into three equal pieces and roll each piece back and forth until it forms a log about 10 inches long. (You needn’t flour the rolling surface.) Position each log on a sheet of plastic wrap, centering it at the edge closest to you. Roll tightly, twisting the ends firmly to seal. With your hands on either end, push the log firmly toward the center to compact the dough. The finished log should measure about 9 inches long and about 1-1/2 inches thick. Refrigerate the logs until firm enough to slice, 2 to 3 hours, or freeze for up to three months.
- Bake the cookies:
- Tip: Meanwhile, make the glaze: Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Working with one log at a time, use a tomato knife or other small serrated knife to cut the dough into ¼-inch rounds using a gentle sawing motion. Set the rounds 1 inch apart on the prepared pans and bake until the cookies are lightly browned, about 18 minutes, rotating the pans as needed for even browning.
- Whisk the confecctioners’ sugar and maple syrup until smooth and pourable. Remove the sheets from the oven and let rest on the baking sheets for 2 min. While the cookies are still hot, use a pastry brush to brush a thin layer of the glaze on top of each cookie. (If the glaze becomes too thick as it stands, thin it with a few drops of hot water.) Transfer the cookies to a rack; the glaze will become firm within minutes. Store the cookies, layered between sheets of waxed paper, in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze for up to three months.