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.
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.
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.