I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Maple Spice Crinkles

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Maple Madness

Maple is one of those ingredients that always makes me look.  If I come a recipe in a magazine or cookbook for maple anything, I just have to read it, then usually cut it out or mark it with a post-it. Of course, sometimes I end up disappointed that these recipes only call for “maple flavoring,” which appeals to me not at all.  It seems like cheating or faking. Then, not every maple recipe I have made has lived up to my expectations, even made with real maple syrup. I like a real hit of maple, not just a subtle, general sweetness. But I have never given up and some of my forays into maple cookery have had superb results.

Like most people of my generation who did not live in maple country, my early exposure to maple syrup involved pancakes and waffles and came in the form of Aunt Jemima or Log Cabin, really just “maple flavored” syrup.  But both my parents went to college in New England, my dad in New Hampshire, so we occasionally got the good stuff “imported” in from their old stomping grounds.  I remember the little tin log cabin shaped containers; I think they came from LL Bean.  And my mother has a real fondness for maple sugar candy, so as kids we used to get it in Christmas stockings – super sugary, maple-y pieces molded into the shape of Santa Claus, or sometimes at Thanksgiving in the shape of pilgrims. I have a cousin who lives in Massachusetts now, and spends a lot of time in Vermont.  She has supplied me with some great maple syrup (hint, hint) and I hope in return I have given her some recipes to use her own supply.

So now I have really discovered maple syrup.  I absolutely disdain any form of “maple flavored” syrup and use only the good stuff. (Okay, there is lurking in my pantry some sort of low-cal, sugar free maple something intended to make me eat a diet breakfast. To no avail I might add.).  And I have been turned on to Grade B for baking, which really gives a maple punch to all your recipes.  I find it at natural foods markets, and it’s a little expensive, but well worth it.  And I am sure it can be found online as well, and I do recommend you search some out. These cookies have a nice warmth from the spice and a good hit of maple flavor.  I’d say they are perfect for curling up with a good book and a warm mug of apple cider on chilly day.

Maple Spice Crinkles

This dough needs to chill for a few hours before being shaped and baked to ensure the nice round shape and crackled finish.

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1/3 cup Grade B maple syrup

1 large egg

Granulated sugar for coating

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.  Set aside.

Cream the butter and dark brown sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until light in color and fluffy.  Add the oil until blended, then add the egg and maple syrup, beating until well incorporated.  Slowly mix in the flour mixture on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until completely incorporated.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 hours.

When the dough is well chilled, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease two cookie sheets or line with a silicone mat.

Place some granulated sugar in a shallow bowl or small plate. Scoop out balls of dough measuring about ½ Tablespoon and roll into balls.  Roll the balls in the sugar to coat completely and place on the cookie sheets, about 1 ½ inches apart.  Bake the cookies until the tops are crackled and the centers just begin to look dry.  Remove from the oven and cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 2 ½ dozen cookies

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