Welcome Fall! How many of us have been waiting for this season to arrive since at least August? I know I’m not the only one to have a special fondness for this beautiful season of crimson and gold colors. Some of my baker friends have been ready to embrace the change of season and have been looking forward to pumpkin patches, picking apples, baking with spices, wearing chunky cable-knit sweaters, having cozy soups simmering on the stove for dinner, or reading by the fire. I think this season is the epitome of “cozy.” Some of my favorite ways to embrace the season are walking around the lake to see the leaves change color, taking day trips or weekend trips in Minnesota to see the fall foliage, lighting fall-scented candles in the evening after dusk, choosing a few good reads to cozy up by the fire, drinking apple cider, and going to the orchard.
For the recipe of this week, I wanted to summon the magic of autumn flavors in the form of a cookie, and I thought nothing could be better than the shape of a maple tree leaf. I probably like maple trees better than the average person because in the Southern Hemisphere, where I grew up, when trees change their leaves, they go straight from green to brown. I had never seen foliage like the ones you see in the northern region of the US and Canada until I moved to Minnesota: sugar maples (my favorite) turning their canopies a bright, sunny yellow and turning the light into golden hour all day long; fire maple trees turning a brilliant red; bur oaks changing into a sharp orange; sawtooth oaks turning amber; gingkoes assuming a luminous shade of yellow; and river birch with its golden bark and the leaves turn goldenrod. For sure it’s an incredible display, one that never fails to capture even the most distracted passerby, so inspired by this I bring you maple cookie sandwiches! The concept is simple: two shortbread cookies in the shape of maple leaves sandwich together a layer of luscious maple cream frosting. It’s a surprisingly simple recipe with the only unusual ingredient being homemade maple butter, which of course, you can always purchase if you want to skip that step. The crisp, buttery shortbread texture goes so well with the creamy frosting infused with the deep flavor of maple, which is synonymous with autumn, the most magical season of the year!
If you end up making your own maple butter, for which I include a simple instruction below, you will have a little bit left over that won’t be used up by the recipe. It works well to spread it on scones or toast or pancakes. The maple butter is made by boiling the syrup until it reaches 234 F, then adding the butter and salt, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes on high speed so that the butter cools down and changes color. It’s a great addition to your fall pantry or fridge, because you do have to store it in the fridge, and it lasts as long as regular butter. It’s so simple and so good and incredibly delicious and a wonderful way to capture the scent of autumn in a jar! Oh, one quick note: maple butter is not the same as maple cream. Maple cream is prepared using mostly maple syrup and a touch of heavy cream—there is no butter in it. I hope you will make these cookies to welcome the autumnal season.
Maple Cookie Sandwiches
Cook Time: 12-14 minutes
Cooling time: 35 minutes total
Servings: about 36 sandwich cookies
For the Cookies:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp maple extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
For the Filling:
- 2/3 cups maple butter (recipe below)
- 5/8 cups powdered sugar
- 2/3 cups unsalted butter, softened
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, powdered sugar, salt, and maple extract for about 5 minutes or until fluffy and lightened in color.
- Incorporate the flour, just until combined.
- Shape into a dough and divide it in half, shaping it into two large, flat discs.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Remove the first disc from the fridge, roll out on a floured surface or on top of a parchment paper, to 1/8 inch thickness. Using a maple leaf shaped cookie cutter or cookie stamp, cut out your cookies.
- Cover the top with parchment and place back in the refrigerator while removing the second half of the dough and repeating the above steps. Chill for another 15 minutes.
- After chilling, place the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. If you used a cookie stamp, you will already have a trace of the veins in the leaves, but if you used a cookie cutter, then use a knife to create the texture and veins of the leaves.
- Bake at 325°F for 12-14 minutes, until done and lightly brown at the edges. The cookies brown on the bottom more than they do at the top, so watch for the color on the edges as your guide to how crispy or golden you like them.
- Once baked, let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. While they cool, move onto make the maple frosting.
- In a bowl, beat the maple butter, powdered sugar, and unsalted butter until they come together and they have a firm and spreadable consistency.
- If you are making your own maple butter, cut 1 cup unsalted butter into chunks and place in the freezer. While the butter freezes, pour 1 ½ cups maple syrup into a stainless steel saucepan and boil the syrup over medium heat without stirring until a candy thermometer reaches 234°F. This should take about 9 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the frozen butter and ¼ tsp kosher salt, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the butter melts completely. When there are no solid residues of butter, pour the syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed for 6-10 minutes, until the butter has fully cooled, lightens in color, and achieves a creamy consistency. Measure the amount of maple butter needed for the frosting and store the remainder in a jar in the refrigerator.
- To assemble, generously spread the maple frosting filling on half of the cookies, and then place the remaining cookies on top, and that’s it!
© 2021 Carol’s Baking Adventures