Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tasting Fall

I can't help it.  When the weather finally starts to turn and there's a chill in the air, I immediately think of  New England.  In my mind they are almost synonymous, so that when I think of fall, I picture the warm  coppers and fiery oranges of the foliage in Connecticut. I can practically smell the leaves burning in Massachusetts yards.  I can taste the crisp apples from Lyman Orchards*, the tart freshness of cranberries from the Cape Cod bogs.  But if there's one flavor that New England has exclusive rights to, it might be maple walnut.  No where else in the country does the maple have so much depth and richness.  It's not the cloying bland impostor known as "pancake syrup", it's not a faint background sugary-ness.  And the walnuts are never sad little bland bits of crunch.  They are substantial with an earthy smoothness behind the chew.  Now usually the combination is the star in cool, velvety ice cream, but these cookies will deliver all of the deliciousness in a form compatible with brisk evenings and warm cups of tea.

*More on Lyman Orchards in upcoming posts!

adapted from Cooking Light
Makes between 2-3 dozen small cookies

NB: If you're interested in baking with maple syrup you might want to invest in some Grade B syrup which is darker in color and deeper in flavor.  It will stand up better in recipes than it's lighter pancake loving Grade A counterpart.


1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/8 t ground nutmeg
3/4 C packed brown sugar
1/4 C softened butter
3 T maple syrup (if you use Grade B, you might get away with 2 T)
1 large egg

1 C powdered sugar
3 T maple syrup
1 T milk
2 T butter, softened

1/2 C chopped walnuts, toasted (toast by popping them on a sheet pan in a toaster oven or oven set to 350 for about 5 minute)

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  In a stand mixer, combine the butter and brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the maple syrup and the egg and mix until combined.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt and (which you can skip if you use salted butter), nutmeg. Stir well to combine thoroughly.  Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and set the mixer on low until it comes together.

Use a spoon to help form small balls.  I found that these are rather puffy if left in ball shape which makes them harder to glaze and top with walnuts.  I sort of gently pressed down the tops once I placed them on the baking sheet to encourage a flatter shape.  Arrange balls on the baking sheet, leaving space between (as I mentioned, mine didn't spread a ton, but you know, better safe than sorry).  Bake at 350 until lightly browned.  I started checking mine around 10 minutes.  It averaged 10-12 minutes although the original recipe said 14, so know your oven.  I was able to transfer them to a cooling rack pretty quickly.

Mix together the frosting by combining the maple syrup, milk and butter and then adding the powdered sugar.  You can whisk or stir until smooth.  Mine was a bit liquidy which resulted in the sort of rustic poured look you see above.  The magazine had sort of perfectly round frosting spread on each cookie.  That was not happening in my world.  One you've frosted, press the walnuts on top quickly so they stick.

Enjoy autumn!

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