Christmas Cookie no 5: Maple Roll-out Cookies
I don't really want to think about Christmas cookies anymore. Its after Christmas, and I've had my share. As long as its still the "holiday season" I think I have a right to post one more cookie recipe. This recipe was introduced to me by my cousin and superb baker Mary-Tyler a few Christmases ago. It's everything and more a roll-out cookie can be sweet and easy to make. The maple flavor has an addicting edge that makes for a sinfully desirable cookie that makes for a memorable Christmas cookie.
The original recipe from Emeril (hey I think this is the only Emeril recipe I've ever made) suggests you ice the cookies. The icing is good, but it makes them harder to pack and send. I sprinkle maple sugar on top, which I will show you how to make. The key ingredient in this recipe is maple extract. Its super powered delicious stuff, and you can't really make these cookies without it. I had trouble finding it at a brick and mortar store (not at Dean and Delucas, Sur la Table, or Whole Foods) but the King Arthur Flour catalog has it. Make sure to order other stuff if you get it from there or your shipping charges will be out of control.
Maple Roll-Out Cookies
2 stick butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tblsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp maple extract
1/4 cup maple syrup (all natural, that other stuff is just flavored sugar)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
4 cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 cup sugar
10 drops maple extract
Mix butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer on high until light colored and fluffy, about 7 minutes. Scrap the bowl and add eggs and molasses. Mix on high another 2 minutes. Add vanilla, maple extract, baking powder, and salt. Mix on medium for another minute. Scrape the bowl. Add half the flour and mix until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and add remaining flour. Mix by hand until just combined. Do not over mix the cookie dough, or any other cookie dough, ever. Just lay off the very second the flour is mostly absorbed into the dough. Tough cookies suck, and I'm sick of eating them and being nice about it. Divide the dough into fourths on a counter top and shape into disks. Chill the dough for 2 hours or place in a ziplock bag and freeze for up to a month.
When its time to roll and decorate preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle a very clean work surface with flour. Place one disk of dough over flour, and sprinkle more flour on top. Wipe a little flour on your rolling pin to prevent sticking. Roll dough out to a little less than 1/4 inch thick. I like my cookies thick, but you can go thinner if you prefer.
The dough is easy to work with, not too sticky, and doesn't crack or break that easily after baked. Go ahead and use your eleborate and crazy shaped cookie cutters. Like Mary-Tyler, my cousin, I like to use maple leaf cookie cutters to hint at the flavor. You can ball up the scraps and roll and cut more cookies 2 more times before the dough will noticibly start to get drier from all the extra flour. Any cookies you make after will be okay, just not as great. Place the cut cookies on a cookie sheet at least 1/2 inch apart.
Mix 1/2 cup sugar and drops of maple extract in a small bowl. Mix with a whisk until evenly blended. I used a coffee grinder to hurry up this step. Sprinkle maple sugar over the tops of the cookie for an extra sugar jolt.
Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes until browned on the bottom. I actually pick up a cookie off the sheet in the oven to check for browning. I have callused hands, so maybe use a spatuala because this could get a little dangerous.
Remove cookies from oven. Let cool for 2-5 minutes on cookie sheet before moving to racks to cool. Allow sheets to cool before using them to bake more cookies.