Do I have any cookie monsters out there? How ’bout lovers of shortbread cookies? Shortbread is such a simple, classic cookie! Buttery, flaky, and with this version – maple-y! The easiness of these 4-ingredient Maple Shortbread Cookies make them even better, in my book. Most of the time in the recipes I bring you, you have the option of changing out the maple sugar for maple syrup or even regular granulated cane sugar, but these cookies, really need the maple sugar in them for the taste and texture to be just right. Also, I used cookie cutters this time (to celebrate the Valentines Day holiday), but they’re ready to serve in a flash if you just cut them into squares or rectangles. I hope you’ll give these maple shortbread cookies a try and see what you think; they could just turn out to be your new favorite cookie…. Hey, it could happen…. Happy Valentines Day, everyone!
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup maple sugar (NOT maple syrup)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 325°F
Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces.
Combine butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed for a minute or two until it softens slightly. Add the flour and the salt and mix until the ingredients come together and forms an irregular ball.
Place the dough on a piece of waxed paper, press it into a rectangle shape; then place another piece of waxed paper on top of the dough. Refrigerate until lightly chilled, about 30-40 minutes.
When the dough is cool remove it from the refrigerator and roll it to about 1/4″ thickness with a rolling pin. To avoid making a mess on your counter, just leave the dough between the two pieces of parchment paper when you roll it flat.
Cut out cookies with a cookie cutter or slice the dough into rectangles or squares with a sharp knife.
Place the cookies on a cookie sheet pan and bake until they are set, and barely browned, 25-30 minutes. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack.
So, I have something a little different for you with this post; I’ve been busy gathering an amazing collection of maple syrup-sweetened treats that I thought you all might want to check out and try some time. Of course, if you’ve been following Dreaming Dessert for a while, you’ll have noticed that I use maple sugar or maple syrup almost exclusively to sweetened the desserts and treats I bring to you. In my wanderings on the net and Pinterest, I discovered such a selection of incredible maple sweetened treats that I had a heck of a time choosing from all of the awesome-looking options; the photography is so amazing, I want to eat them off the screen!
In keeping with the healthful dessert eating trend I began at the first of the year, (I’m not sure that once really creates a “trend”, but bear with me…), I thought you all might want to try these Maple Baked Pears with Toasted Pecans. They’re soooo easy! There’s all of five ingredients in this baked-until-tender, maple syrup-sweetened, toasty pecan, pear dessert. They’re perfect for a weeknight dessert craving without carrying all of that guilt baggage into the next day. Top these pears with a dollop of vanilla yogurt, lightly-sweetened whipped cream or creme fraiche, (yeah, it’s a bit of a splurge…) and you have a perfect dinner party dessert. I’ve reduced the amount of maple syrup and vanilla from the original recipe, which you can find over at the delightful blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction.
4 Anjou pears
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped, lightly toasted*
Preheat oven to 375°F
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil.
Cut pears in half, then trim a small, thin slice off the other side so the pears won’t tip over when placed on the baking sheet. Use a melon baller or teaspoon to scoop out the seeds.
Place pears, facing up, on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Mix the maple syrup and vanilla extract together in a small bowl. Drizzle all but 2 tablespoons over the pears, reserving remaining syrup for after the pears are baked.
Bake pears for 30 minutes or until soft (test with a fork). Remove from the oven and immediately drizzle with the remaining maple-vanilla syrup mixture. Sprinkle with toasted pecans and serve warm.
NOTE: *To toast pecans: Spread 1/2 cup pecans on an ungreased, rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a 350°F oven for 4-5 minutes (The nuts will have just started to brown. Watch carefully to insure that the nuts don’t burn.)
If you have any leftovers, they’ll keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
After the rich, sometimes decadent, possibly indulgent (I seem to use that word a lot here…), desserts and sweet treats of the holidays, I thought maybe something fruitful and more healthful-leaning might be in order. Enter Blackberry Almond Tart! Now, this purple jewel of a tart isn’t entirely without sin – all of those blackberries sit inside a nut shortbread crust. In the crust’s defense, however, the butter was reduced by half, without losing any tenderness or flavor. Honest. Fresh blackberries are available in the stores at this time of the year, but I mostly used frozen berries to keep costs down; if you don’t mind the expense, fresh is always best. The next time you’re looking for an easy fruit tart, I hope you’ll try this Blackberry Almond Tart.
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup blanched almonds, finely ground
2 tablespoon maple sugar
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut in small cubes
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup maple sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups frozen blackberries, thawed
1 cup fresh blackberries
3 tablespoons slivered almonds, lightly toasted
Preheat oven to 375ºF
Place oven rack in lowest position. Have an 8-inch tart pan with removable bottom or a 8-inch springform pan ready. I used a 14×5-inch rectangular tart pan. You can find them here.
To make crust in food processor: Process 2/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup ground blanched almonds, 2 tablespoons maple sugar and the butter, pulsing until pea-sized crumbs form. With motor running, add lemon juice and almond extract. Process until dough leaves sides of bowl. (If you don’t have a food processor, by hand: Mix 2/3 cup flour, ground blanched almonds and 2 tablespoons maple sugar in a medium-size bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle with lemon juice and almond extract until combined.) Pour dough into the tart or springform pan.
Lightly flour fingers and press dough about 1/4 inch thick over bottom and up the sides of the tart pan about 1/2 inch high in spring-form pan.
Mix remaining 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 cup maple sugar and the cinnamon in a large bowl. Add 4 cups blueberries and stir to mix and coat. Spread evenly in crust.
Place tart on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with foil and bake 40 to 50 minutes until crust is well browned and the filling bubbles.
Remove from oven, place on wire rack. Sprinkle with the 1 cup fresh blackberries and toasted, slivered almonds. Cool completely. Remove pan sides and place tart on serving plate.
If you are a lover of chocolate, then you are, no doubt, familiar with Chocolate Truffles and for some of us chocoholics, there are times when only a truffle will satisfy. There’s a reason why they’re a go-to gift at so many holidays and well…any time, really. There are so many outstanding flavor options to try with a chocolate truffle base, that I had a hard time narrowing it down to just the three flavors featured here. There’s hazelnut, raspberry balsamic (this one’s soo good!), and the ever popular mint. I’m not just saying this – I love them all! As an experiment, I added a sprinkle of matcha powder on top of the mint truffles and a pinch of cinnamon on the raspberry balsamic; both were very complementary to their primary flavors. I should mention that the chocolate mixture ingredients make enough ganache for one flavor of truffle. If you want to make each flavor you’ll need to start the recipe from the beginning each time. If you’re like me and running a wee bit behind at this crazy-busy time of the year, truffles make wonderful last minute holiday gifts… Happiest of holidays, everyone!
*For the ganache:
6 ounces dark chocolate chips (I used Guittard)
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Pinch of sea salt (I used Fleur de Sel)
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon hazelnut, peppermint, and raspberry liqueur (for each flavor of truffle)
In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, melt together the chocolate chips, whipping cream, butter, and salt, stirring constantly until melted. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the honey. Add liqueur and extract in the amounts noted in the ingredient list above for each flavor of truffle.
Pour the ganache into an 8-inch square baking pan and transfer to the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
Remove the ganache from the refrigerator and with a teaspoon, scoop/scrape out balls.
With your hands, roll the chocolate into round shapes and place them on the lined baking sheet.
After you have formed all the ganache into spheres, return them to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Place the cocoa powder and chopped hazelnuts in separate shallow bowls.
For the hazelnut truffles: Simply roll the chocolate round in the chopped nuts until completely covered, then roll between your hands until the shape becomes more uniformly round. Place on a serving plate or seal in a plastic storage container.
For the mint truffles: Roll the chocolate ball in the cocoa powder, covering completely; shake off the excess, then roll between your hands until you have a more uniform ball shape. Place truffle on your serving plate or in a storage container and sprinkle the tops with a pinch of matcha powder.
For the raspberry balsamic truffles: Roll the chocolate round in the cocoa until completely covered; shake off excess cocoa powder, then roll between your hands until the shape becomes more uniformly round. Place on a serving plate or in a storage container and sprinkle tops with a tiny pinch of cinnamon.
Once done, chill the truffles until set, about 30 minutes, before eating.
*NOTE: The truffle ingredients above will only make enough ganache for one (1) flavor of the truffles.
Truffles will keep in the refrigerator for a week.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but in my house, holiday treats begin and end with cookies and candy (usually chocolate…). For some, favorite Christmas cakes or fruit-filled stollens are what make their holidays bright; and of course, that’s awesome, but I look forward to this special time of the year when I can pull out the fun and festive cutters and indulge in traditional, as well as new recipes that I’ve been dying to try. These Salted Chocolate Dipped Pecan Sandies are a wonderful way to get the celebrations off to a sweet start. Plus, these little gems ship really well if you mail holiday treat packages to friends and family. I promise Salted Chocolate Dipped Pecan Sandies will be a welcome addition to any cookie tray!
1 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips (I used Guittard)
1 teaspoon vegetable shortening
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling (I used Fleur de Sel)
Preheat oven to 325º F
For cookie dough:
Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until smooth.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Carefully pour the dough onto a 2 1/2 foot long piece of plastic wrap, forming the dough into a rough 6-7” roll shape with your hands. Wrap the plastic around the dough, sealing it and roll it back and forth until it’s shaped into a smooth, round roll.
Chill dough for an hour.
Using a sharp knife, slice dough into approximate ½” slices.
Place slices on parchment-lined baking sheets about an inch or so apart.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from baking sheets to cooling racks. Let cool completely.
For chocolate dip:
Heat chocolate and shortening in the microwave at 50% power, stirring after every 30 seconds; it usually takes about a minute and a half. If you have a few unmelted chips, just stir until they’re melted by the hotter chocolate.
Dip the cooled cookies into the melted chocolate until one half of the cookie is covered with chocolate. Return to cooling rack for 10-15 minutes. When the chocolate is still soft and barely warm, sprinkle on a pinch of sea salt.
Place in the fridge to harden the chocolate. Store in an airtight container.
Thanksgiving is nearly upon us! How did that even happen?! Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like once we get past September, the year picks up some serious momentum! If you’ve been feeling a sense of urgency about what to prepare for the dessert end of things on the Turkey Day table, I think I have a solution for you with this Pumpkin Creme Brulee. Like all creme brulees, this one is creamy-smooth with that to-die-for crackly sugar topping that creme brulee fans love, but it’s the maple pumpkin deliciousness that brings this one to a new level of yum! What’s so great about this dessert is that it really is pretty simple to prepare and you can make it ahead of time so it’s one less thing to deal with and take up precious oven time on the big day. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
8 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 vanilla bean, split
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup maple sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin puree
Preheat oven to 325ºF
In a large bowl, mix egg yolks with a hand mixer until frothy.
Heat about 6 cups of water to boiling. (This will be poured into the pan that will hold the creme-filled ramekins).
Add cream to a medium pan and scrape vanilla bean seeds into the cream. Stir in maple syrup and 1/4 c. maple sugar, and turn on heat to med-high. Stir constantly, bring cream to a simmer. Remove from heat.
Very slowly whisk some (a few tablespoons at a time) of the hot cream into the egg (until the mixture is lukewarm), then whisk in the remainder of the cream.
Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the 2 tablespoons maple sugar) and whisk until combined. Place ramekins into a large pan (a 13 x 19 cake pan should be fine) and pour mixture into your ramekins. Carefully fill the pan half full with hot water. This will maintain a good moisture level inside the oven while the custard is baking.
Bake until the custards set, 55-60 min. Test the custards for doneness by shaking them lightly; if they don’t jiggle in the middle, they’re done. Place them in the fridge for a couple of hours to chill.
To brûler your custards, sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon maple sugar on the tops of each chilled custard and using a cooking torch, carefully and slowly heat the sugar until it hardens. You can also put them under a broiler but watch them very carefully so they don’t burn, turning often.
Pop them back into the fridge to chill for an hour or so longer.
NOTE: The maple sugar that you sprinkle on top of the custards will burn more easily than regular granulated sugar, so if you’d rather not take the extra time it requires to more slowly brulee the maple sugar, then go ahead and use superfine white sugar in the same quantity.
Cuteness aside, these Mini Pumpkin Cakes with Maple Cream Cheese Filling are the bomb! The maple cream cheese filling is the perfect complement to these pumpkin cakes. I was having a hard time not eating it straight out of the bowl by the spoonful! Pumpkin desserts are a given at this time of the year and I tend to go to my old standbys, pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread, but felt it was time to change it up a bit and boy! am I glad I did! You won’t be sorry if you give these Mini Pumpkin Cakes with Maple Cream Cheese Filling a try for your holiday gatherings – I promise they’ll be a big hit!
1 cup maple sugar
2/3 cup pure pumpkin puree
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 ounces cream cheese softened
4 tablespoons butter softened
2/3 cup powdered maple sugar
1/2 tablespoon milk
3/4 cup powdered maple sugar
2 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon maple extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
For the cake:
Spray 15x10x1-inch jelly-roll pan with Baker’s Joy or similar and line with parchment paper, then spray paper and set aside.
In a large bowl beat eggs and maple sugar with a mixer on medium high speed for 3 minutes. Add pumpkin and mix until blended.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture on low speed just until combined.
Pour cake batter into prepared jelly roll pan, smoothing with a spatula until it’s level.
Bake for 11-14 minutes. Test for doneness with a cake tester or toothpick. Cake is done when the toothpick comes out without crumbs on it.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Invert the cake onto a cooling rack. Carefully peel away the parchment paper. Cool completely.
Using a small 2-inch diameter cookie cutter (I used a pumpkin shape, but use whatever you like), cut out as many shapes as you can. Place half of the mini cakes on a serving plate.
For the filling:
Beat cream cheese, powdered maple sugar and softened butter on low speed until smooth.
Add milk and beat on high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Spread 1-2 tablespoons cream cheese mixture over each mini cake on your serving plate, then top with remaining cakes.
For the icing:
In a small bowl whisk powdered sugar, milk, and extract together until smooth. *Pipe icing on the top of the cakes.
Refrigerate for an hour before serving.
Notes: *If you prefer, you can sprinkle the tops of the cakes with powdered sugar instead.
As always you can substitute granulated and confectioners sugar for the maple sugars in this recipe, but if you substitute confectioners sugar in the filling, mix in an additional teaspoon of maple extract.
It’s apple season! Right now my house smells like an apple orchard tinged with cinnamon and it just makes me happy! A friend gave me a huge amount of apples from the crazy productive apple tree in her backyard and I’ve been busy making apple sauce, apple pie filling, and these oh-so-wonderful Apple Dumplings with Maple Cinnamon Sauce. Which aroma do you prefer wafting through your home? Freshly baked bread or apple cinnamon anything? It’s a toss up for me, but at the moment…apple cinnamon is winning the contest. You won’t be even a little bit sorry if you try these Apple Dumplings with Maple Cinnamon Sauce. Happy Fall everyone!
1 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold shortening (place in freezer for an hour or so)
2/3 cup cold butter, divided
1/2 cup milk
6 small MacIntosh or Jonathon Apples, peeled and cored
Maple sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 375⁰F
For the sauce:
Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil for a couple of minutes so it thickens slightly.
For the dough:
Measure the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Cut the shortening and ⅓ cup butter (save remaining butter for the center of the apples) into the flour mixture with a pastry blender (stop blending when the shortening and butter are approximately pea-sized). Add milk and stir until the dough just forms a ball. Place in the refrigerator.
Peel and core the apples.
Divide the dough into six equal portions and roll them out, one at a time, on a lightly floured surface.
Place an apple on a dough round, fill the center with butter, sprinkle approximately 1 tablespoon maple sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon over the top.
Mold the dough around the apple, sealing it well so the filling doesn’t come out when baking. Continue with the rest of the apples.
Place the apples in a 13×9 inch baking pan, spacing them about an inch apart. Pour the sauce over the dumplings, then sprinkle with maple sugar. Bake for 35 minutes. Spoon the sauce in the bottom of the pan over the apple dumplings when they are removed from the oven.
NOTE: If you don’t have maple syrup and maple sugar or would prefer to use granulated sugar, you can use equal amounts in this recipe.
Berries, any kind of berries, are gobbled at my house, so you can imagine the enthusiasm with which a juicy cobbler filled with berries is received. This mixed berry cobbler has a lemon-y scone topping that pairs perfectly with the sweet-tart berry combination. Cobblers are wonderful because they’re so easy, especially when compared to a pie. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about a good pie, but sometimes you just want a fruit pie with less fuss and the cobbler is the perfect solution. I hope you’ll try this mixed berry cobbler; with or without a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, it’s divine.
For the berry mixture:
6 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) strawberries, blackberries and blueberries
⅓ cup maple sugar
2 tablespoons flour
For the scones:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup maple sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 425⁰F
For the berry filling:
In a large bowl, add the berries.
Combine sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl and add to berries; gently stir to coat the berries.
Pour the berry mixture into a 8×8 baking dish or 6-8 individual ramekins. Set aside.
For the scone topping:
Combine dry ingredients (through salt) in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until blended. Add in cubes of butter and pulse until butter looks like small pebbles in the flour mixture, about 30 seconds.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk sour cream, lemon rind, egg, and lemon juice together until thoroughly combined. Pour this mixture in a steady stream into the flour-butter mix in the processor; stop when the dough begins to come away from the sides of the processor.
Crumble dough over the berry mixture. Try to cover as much of the berries as you can.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until berries are bubbling and topping is golden brown. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
NOTE: You can substitute granulated sugar for the maple sugar if you prefer.