Tag Archive | maple

Shortbread!

I have a terrible memory. Tonight I found a box of dark brown sugar I brought home two weeks ago.  Somehow it made it in from the car in a bag of used books I bought at the library.  Sure could have used that last week!

But sometimes having a bad memory pays off, like tonight.  In addition to finding the lost box of brown sugar in a bag of books in my bedroom, I also found a tin of Maple Shortbread cookies I baked on Friday.

Fresh out of the oven they were tasty, a bit heavy on the butter. At the time I was not sure if this was the maple cookie I was ready to commit to.  I packaged the best looking ones in the boxes of goodies to out on Sunday, holding back a few that were over baked.  I figured I would probably throw them away, but instead stashed them in a tin and forgot them.

Five days later they were like a whole new cookie.  They were crisp, not crumbly and the maple flavor had mellowed nicely and overtaken the butter as primary flavor.  Even almost burnt they were delish!  Mr. Sugar Mamma and my girl Tea have declared the Maple Shortbread to be their new favorite cookie.

So round up those now empty Christmas cookie tins that you never know what to do with, fill them with Maple Shortbread cookies and forget about them for a couple of days.  Warning: unless you have a horrible memory, this might be hard to do.  Totally ignore that fresh baked cookie smell as they come out of the oven.  It will be totally worth it to allow these cookies to sit un-eaten for a few days. Trust me!  Sugar Mamma Rating: Solid:  Make them now, impress the ones you love (in a few days).

Maple shortbread ready for the oven

Maple Shortbread Cookies

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/2 cup pure maple sugar (I was not able to find in the grocery store so bought online)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup rice flour or corn starch (substitute all purpose flour if you do not have on hand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment

Add sugars, flours and salt to the bowl of your food processor.  Pulse once to mix ingredients.  Add pieces of butter and pulse until all butter is cut into dry ingredients.  Add vanilla and pulse a few seconds to incorporate.  Dough will be dry and sandy.

Transfer to another bowl or the counter and use your hands to work the dough into a ball. It should come together easily.

You can chill the dough for an hour before rolling, but I had no problem rolling it right from the mixer.

Sprinkle dough and counter lightly with flour and roll to ¼ inch thick.

Cut with cookie cutter

Place cookies on sheet and sprinkle with a little maple sugar

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until just lightly brown.  Watch carefully so that any smaller/thinner cookies don’t burn.  Underdone is better than over done.

Let sit on the baking sheet a few minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container, and avoid any temptation to eat them before they have sat for at least one day.  Really. Worth. The. Wait.

Note: The original King Arthur recipe involves creaming the sugar and butter first. My experience with this method results in puffy cookies, which I don’t really like in a shortbread.  I will probably try out the original recipe at some point in the future, just to test if there is a difference.

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Maple Apple Bread Pudding with Cranberries and Pecans

Last time she came to visit, my mom brought me some caramel apple bread pudding from the extremely popular Gayles Bakery in Capitola.  I’ve been thinking of doing a hand-held bread pudding, and Gayles bakes theirs individually in large muffin tins and serves them in a paper wrapper.  Now I am not a big bread pudding fan.  The cold custard-ey texture and bland flavor is usually a turn off.  I’ve had chocolate bread pudding that I loved because it tasted like a brownie.  But why not just have a brownie?  Anyway, the bread pudding from Gayles was cold and custard-ey, but I found that instead of it being a turn off, I could not stop eating.  I think I finally got that “comfort” element that so many people find appealing about bread pudding.

To the internets! Thinly sliced granny smith apples caramelized on the stove top in butter and brown sugar sounded like a good place to start.  Because brown sugar and melted butter look exactly like maple syrup, I had to add some of my favorite ingredient to the skillet.   Then the maple syrup reminded me of my favorite apple crumble with maple and cranberry.  So in goes cranberry, and some pecans too, cause bread pudding needs some crunch and pecans love to swim in sweet, sweet maple.

cooking down the apples in butter, brown sugar and maple syrup

The only bread I had was a Rustic Tartine loaf I’d baked (lots of chewy crust and an almost sour flavor, made with a starter and a small percentage of whole wheat flour).  Rock-n-roll.  I loved the extra flavor this bread added, as well as the texture.  I was not happy however, with the way it turned out baked in individual sizes.  Too much of the bread was above the top of the muffin cup, leaving a segregated layer of super custardy mush, topped with crispy bread.  Mixing and letting the bread soak up the custard first ended up without a custard-ey consistency at all.

This weekend I was having company and wanted to bake up the best, most flavorful bread pudding I could. I started with my usual apple maple mix & sourdough bread cubes, and tried out a new custard which was almost like egg nogg – sweet, creamy with vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and brandy.   Baked in a regular dish & served with some vanilla ice cream she was delish!  The only thing I might try next, is to layer it: bread layer, apple layer, another bread, then top with custard. Try it out  if you are in the mood for bread pudding.  Make sure to share with friends, it makes a lot! I don’t want to be blamed for the way you will feel after devouring half a pan of this stuff.

a water bath keeps the custard smooth and creamy