Blog

Posted in Uncategorized

Baked Apple Cider Muffins

Wow these were amazing! I got this recipe from the New York Times Cooking app and had been wanting to make it for a while! I had some leftover apple cider from a trip to the orchard a few weeks ago and decided to give it a try! These were delicious! They are the same as the apple cider donuts traditionally sold by apple orchards but even better! I liked them more because I felt that they didn’t get soggy after a day or two of sitting around and they were a joy to eat! They had the same texture as a donut but without all the fat and grease from being deep-fried! The original recipe is for baked donuts but the only thing that makes them donuts is being baked in a donut pan. Because I am a college student and not a professional baker, I do not have a donut pan. However, I have multiple muffin pans that I put to great use as part of this recipe! It has been tasted and approved by my boyfriend so I feel very good about putting this recipe out for the world to see!

There isn’t a lot of technique involved with the recipe but there are a few tricks to know about the butter and eggs used in this recipe. For butter, most recipes call for softened or room temperature butter. It is ALWAYS better to leave butter out overnight to soften but I have found that the microwave works out just fine in a pinch. I microwave butter for thirty second intervals and keep a close eye on the butter. Once it is easy to leave an indent in the butter, it doesn’t need to be microwaved anymore and has reached the softened or room temperature stage. Another trick with temperature is with eggs. I leave my eggs in the fridge most of the time because I’m never sure when I’ll use them next. This recipe calls specifically for room temperature eggs as do many recipes with an end product that is moist but strong. An easy trick for getting eggs closer to room temperature is to boil some water. Let it cool and then pour it over the eggs. The temperature of the water will gently heat the eggs without cooking them completely. This is an easy trick that can help you stick to your recipe and get great end results. I used both of these tricks while making these muffins because they were a spur of the moment decision! I hope that you are able to be equally spontaneous in your creation of baked goods and I wish you luck with these! Happy baking!

Baked Apple Cider Muffins

For the Muffins

  • 225 grams (1 3/4 cup) All Purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 140 grams (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 165 grams (3/4 cup) light brown sugar
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 120milliliters (1/2 cup) apple cider

For the Topping

  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • To coat: 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a muffin sheet and a half. This recipe made me about 15 muffins so be prepared to move to the second pan.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking powder.
  3. In a separate and larger bowl, cream together the butter and two sugars. Beat until light and fluffy
  4. Once fluffy, beat in the eggs one at a time, ensuring they are fully mixed in. Then add the vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
  5. In two additions, add the flour mixture, stirring in between additions. Gently pour in apple cider and stir until the batter becomes smooth and consistent.
  6. Divide the batter evenly amongst the prepared cups and bake 23-27 minutes. Time will vary based on the heat and strength of your oven. Check for done-ness by inserting a toothpick into the center of a muffin and if it comes out clean, then it’s done!
  7. While muffins are baking, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon and melt the butter. Keep the cinnamon-sugar and butter separate.
  8. Once the muffins are done, let sit in the pan for five minutes. Once cool enough to touch, dip in butter then roll in cinnamon sugar. If you’re an enthusiast with the sugar, you may need to make more. If so, use the same amounts as before and store whatever you don’t use as long as it hasn’t touched butter.
  9. Enjoy your muffins right away or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container and enjoy!
Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

So in the past few days, I finished this book and it was really a delightful escape to the Paris of many years past. A Moveable Feast was published posthumously and is a chronicle of Hemingway’s time in Paris after the First World War with his wife Hadley and the people they encountered during their adventures. The last section is devoted to F. Scott Fitzgerald and their friendship. Despite the title, there is not much feasting going on but the book contains beautiful and melancholic descriptions of Paris. I choose this book because it came highly recommended from several expatriate sites when I was looking for books about France. As it was written about life in the twenties, I’m not sure how relevant it will be for my journey to France but I really did enjoy the book. This is yet another one of my secondhand reads which I love but please, please, please go buy something full price from your local bookstore! I love saving money on books but if you can spend it, your local bookstore could really use the support with the lack of walk-in traffic these days. I know that my favorite southern California bookstore was really struggling and they ended up asking people for business which really helped! But don’t let your local bookstore get to that point please! Bookstores are a super important part of the community so please support them! Now back to Hemingway!

I have never read any of Hemingway’s work but I was aware of his very “macho” reputation and propensity for being called Big Papa. Coming into this book with those assumptions, I was absolutely floored by the tenderness and melancholy that I found in this book. Not only was Hemingway emotive in the extreme, he also recognized his own foibles and didn’t shield them from the view of the reader. I really enjoyed just reading the little vignettes about his various experiences in Paris. In other parts of the novel, he was coarse and rude and terrible but overall, he wasn’t what I expected. Perhaps because he was in Paris during a period of relative peace and was yet building up his reputation as an author, he was more free to write about his entire experience and emotions. Hemingway’s last view chapters are dedicated to his relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald and it’s clear that Hemingway cared both a great deal for F. Scott while vehemently hating Zelda Fitzgerald. Overall, I enjoyed the book because it was very refreshing and I felt that I got to experience Paris as Hemingway did. However, as any author, Hemingway takes liberties with the personalities involved, twisting them to suit the story. I would just caution the reader to not judge all the persons presented based on Hemingway’s account of them. I would recommend this book, especially to people who read a little before bed. The chapters are more like self-contained stories and are read quickly. If you’re looking for a little literature at night, this is an excellent place to start!

Posted in Uncategorized

Dia de Los Muertos /Day of the Dead

Good Morning everyone! I wanted to blog about something that is really important to me but something I didn’t realize wasn’t quite understood by everyone. I want to talk about Dia de Los Muertos. Some of this knowledge is personal but fact-checked with the help of the internet to make sure that I’m not leading anyone astray. I’ve celebrated Dia de Los Muertos with my mother for the past few years and it’s really important to us to take the time to remember our ancestors and honor them during this period. Dia de Los Muertos looks different for each family that celebrates and my mom and I celebrate in our own ways.

Coco-Disney Film

So what is the Day of the Dead? At first glance, it seems a little gruesome, like people just run around in skeleton makeup. It’s definitely not that but it’s also not “Mexican Halloween”. Many also now know about Day of the Dead through the Disney movie, Coco. Day of the Dead is a holiday that is celebrated primarily in Mexico but is also celebrated in other places especially where there has been a large Mexican immigrant diaspora. Day of the Dead is a way to celebrate and honor the lives of those who have passed before us and is both solemn and joyous. Dia de Los Muertos typically lasts two days and takes place on the first and second of November. The first day is called Dia de Los Innocentes and is a day for the celebration of children who passed before their time. The second day is for all and can include a grave beautification, creation of an ofrenda with marigolds, food, and photographs, and family celebrations in honor of those who already passed. Dia de Los Muertos also involves specific foods such as pan de muerto which is a large sweet bread flavored with oranges that is meant to resemble bones. Other foods commonly consumed include conchas or pan dulce and any food that was particularly special to any of the dead. So my uncle ron who I honor on my ofrenda loved cookies so I always bake chocolate cookies and put them on the ofrenda.

Pan de Muerto from Google Images

For me, Dia de Los Muertos looks a little different now that I’m in college. I’m several thousand miles from the graves of any of my relatives but that hasn’t really affected my celebrations. Since I’ve been at university, I’ve put up papel picador which is brightly colored and stenciled flags that I love to look at. I also create an ofrenda with paper marigolds and lots of sweets. On Dia de Los Muertos I try to take extra time in my day to remember and cherish those who have passed away. I also like to make extra time for my existing family and send them a little extra love. The dead that I remember come from those who surrounded me with love as a child or from afar. This year, I remember and honor Ronald, Annabelle, John, Lois, and Lorin.

Papel Picado

So what does Dia de Los Muertos look during the age of Covid? Well, quite a bit different. Many people are unable to access the grave sites of their loved ones in Mexico. Obviously, the parties and parades that have marked the days in past years have been forbidden for the good of public health. Even sculptures put out in Mexico City have been removed due to fears of crowding. The Mexican community is unable to celebrate one of the most important holidays and has also been hit extraordinarily hard by Covid-19. Many of the front line workers from hospitals to slaughterhouses to our fields to your grocery store are Latino and have been disproportionately affected by Covid. The year that the Mexican community needs Dia de Los Muertos the most, it is deprived of the collective mourning and community provided by this holiday. I’m lucky that I am able to spend Dia de Los Muertos with one of my loved ones but many aren’t as lucky. If you don’t celebrate Dia de Los Muertos, on November second, please take the time to recognize and thank the front-line workers. I’ll be keeping my ancestors in my prayers and I hope that you are also able to take the time to reflect on the dead who have impacted your life.

Posted in Recipes

Chocolate Cake

So I have to admit that the cover photo for today’s blog post was graciously taken by the recipients of this cake. Two of my friends recently celebrated their marriage and being a big baker, I asked if I could bake them a yummy if slightly messy cake. I had originally planned to do a butter cake with ganache frosting, a classic bumblebee cake. Looking around my pantry, I noticed I had a boxed mix of devil’s food cake that I had been dying to use and this seemed like a a perfect opportunity! Using a boxed cake mix meant that I was able to take my time with the other parts of the cake that added a lovely touch and taste. I should have taken a little extra time with the royal icing lettering but hindsight is 20/20! The royal icing was a little on the runnier side and smooshed together a little but I see that as protecting the privacy of the intended recipients!

This cake has everything! Two layers of delicious cake with a simple syrup for additional moisture with a ganache frosting and royal icing lettering! This cake was actually a two-day process which sounds daunting but I actually think it makes the whole thing much less stressful. Taking the time to properly chill the cake and the frosting allows for the icing process to be much more stress-free! I really enjoyed icing the cake, something I’m not sure that I’ve ever said before. I used to HATE icing cakes; it was always way more trouble than it was worth. I would get crumbs everywhere and could never get a smooth coating of frosting! Let me tell you that has all changed! Equipped with the right tools and knowledge, I’ve become much more at ease in the icing department. The decorations still need a little bit of work but we can’t all be perfect! To properly ice a cake, you really should use a rotating cake stand. I used to hear this all the time and thought it was a bunch of hooey but it really has some merit. It makes it so much easier to get the sides of the cake without taking off too much frosting. Using offset spatulas also helps a LOT. The funky shape to these spatulas helps to evenly distribute the frosting in an intuitive way. One word of wisdom is that the offset spatula should never actually touch the cake. The spatula is used to move around the frosting which ends up covering the cake for you.

This ganache recipe is also one that I have used for a few years but have never taken the time to use all the different bowls and pans that it calls for. Even though it makes way more dishes (which my father never appreciates), this recipe is an easy way to get lovely tempered chocolate frosting for a whole cake. The key to this ganache is the right combination of hot and cold. It’s not as finicky most tempered chocolate recipes but it does need to be warm while being made. The cacao percentage of the chocolate is also very important. The original recipe calls for 62% cacao but I’ve never been able to find that and I use 66% cacao. This is a pretty dark chocolate but doesn’t need much sugar to sweeten it. This recipe won’t really work with a smaller percentage of cacao because the ganache will be too sweet and a little oily. It’s worth the extra couple bucks to get a higher cacao percentage for this recipe. I made this ganache on the morning of the assembly of the cake and put it in the fridge to chill before applying to the cake. One super easy way to soften the ganache if it has chilled is to put in a tablespoon or two of hot water and mix it into the ganache. It helps to soften it without exposing it to the harsh temperature induced by the microwave. Not that I don’t love a good microwave but it doesn’t quite do it for this recipe. I hope that you try this recipe and let me know about your successes or failures in the comments below! Happy baking!

Thanks E for the photos!

Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • For the Cake
  • 1 box mix of chocolate cake or your favorite chocolate cake recipe
  • For the Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • For the Ganache
  • 10 ounces of 66% Cacao chocolate
  • 75 grams (2/3 cup) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 170 grams (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) heavy cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 42 grams (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • For the Royal Icing
  • 113 grams (1 cup) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon egg white
  1. Make the cake the day before assembly. Cut the pieces and wrap in cling wrap. Let chill in the fridge overnight.
  2. To make the ganache, combine chocolate and powdered sugar in a heatproof bowl.
  3. Put a medium pan of water on to simmer. This will act as part of a bain marie to melt the chocolate so make sure the heatproof bowl fits neatly into the top of the pot before you start the boil
  4. In a small saucepan on medium heat, warm the heavy cream to a simmer. Once simmering, pour over the chocolate mixture and stir until the sugar is melted.
  5. Nest the chocolate bowl over the pan of simmering water. Heat the bowl and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
  6. In a small heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Add about a half cup of the chocolate mixture to the eggs and whisk vigorously with a fork to temper. Once shiny, pour back into the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.
  7. Add butter to chocolate and stir until smooth. Pour hot ganache through a sieve into a heatproof container and chill for at least 1 hour.
  8. While the ganache is chilling, make the simple syrup. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat until sugar has dissolved into the water. Remove to a heatproof container and let cool. (This simple syrup works for cocktails as well so try to make some if you have leftovers)
  9. Once the simple syrup and ganache have cooled, remove the cake from the fridge.
  10. Unwrap and gently brush a conservative amount of syrup over each half of the cake. Make sure the cake is moistened but not soaked by the syrup.
  11. Take the half of the cake that was the top and place on the cake stand. Take a generous dollop of ganache and spread it over this half.
  12. Once thoroughly frosted, put the bottom half on top, with the side that was in the bottom of the pan on top. This ensures a flat cake.
  13. Add dollops of ganache around the side of the cake. Using offset spatula, spread a thin layer of ganache over the sides.
  14. Once a thin layer is created, chill the cake for at least an hour. While it is chilling, make the royal icing.
  15. For the royal icing, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. If too thick, add a teaspoon of water until desired consistency. If too runny, add additional powdered sugar until it stiffens.
  16. Once the cake has chilled, remove from the fridge. Place a generous dollop of frosting on top and cover. Once the top is covered, add ganache to the sides to fully coat the cake.
  17. To smooth the sides, hold the offset spatula tight to the side of the cake and spin the rotating stand while holding the spatula steady. Push the excess frosting from the sides to the top of the cake. Once there, smooth off into the top layer with the spatula.
  18. Chill cake for at least 30 minutes before adding words or serve immediately. It will stay well wrapped in the fridge for five days.
  19. If adding words, put the royal icing into an icing bag with a small writing tip and write out desired message. Make sure the icing isn’t too runny or your cake may look like mine!
  20. Enjoy your cake!
Posted in Cookies, Recipes

Gluten-Free Maple Pecan Shortbread

Oh my gosh is it shortbread??? Again?? When does the obsession with shortbread end you may ask??? My answer at the moment is never!!! As a kid, I really hated the short texture in cookies where they just crumbled apart in my hands. I always preferred my cookies soft and honestly, I still like my chocolate chip cookies a little under baked so that they stay soft for days! However, I think shortbread reminds me so much of the Great British Baking Show and I refuse to watch the newest season without my mother present, so I’m compensating by making as much shortbread as humanly possible. Shortbread is also a celebration of simplicity with a huge flavor packed inside each cookie! I never appreciated nuance in my cookie but I’m really starting to, especially with the quantity of cookies that I’ve been making lately!

I actually made this recipe about a week before I choose to post about it because I wanted some time to experiment with the recipe a little bit. This recipe is originally from King Arthur Flour where it was credited to Alyssa Rimmer of Simply Quinoa! So you can thank Ms. Rimmer for the original recipe and myself for a few modifications. When I made it the first time, it was really heavy on the cinnamon and pecan but lighter on the maple. I had chosen these cookies for their maple flavoring and was disappointed when they didn’t deliver as much punch as hoped for in the maple department. As much as I complained about it not going as perfectly as I wanted, my boyfriend still taste-tested as many as he could get his hands on! So obviously, there are fans of the original recipe but I’ll be putting my variations next to the recipe below. I replaced the confectioners sugar with maple sugar and doubled the amount of salt. I thought it was missing salt from the original recipe but a doubled amount may be too salty for some. These are also a super quick cookie to throw together, so the opportunities to modify the recipe just a tad to your taste are only limited by your quantities of the ingredients! Let me know what you think of recipe or any of the modifications in the comments below! Happy baking!

Gluten-Free Maple Pecan Shortbread Recipe

  • 96 grams (1 cup) almond flour
  • 43 grams (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 21 grams (3 tablespoons) confectioners or powdered sugar (For extra maple, use maple sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (I used 1/4 teaspoon and was happier with that in the extra maple cookies)
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract (use regular if that’s what you have and it’s not super important if it’s gluten-free)
  • 35 grams (1/3 cup) chopped pecans
  1. Mix everything but the pecans in a bowl and mix until the dough comes together. Add the pecans and stir to combine.
  2. Using plastic wrap shape dough into a log. Wrap and roll on a counter to round it. Chill for at least 1 hour or until firm.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Remove the dough form plastic wrap and slice into 1/4″ rounds and place on the sheet.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool on the pan for ten minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

WOW!!! What a ride this one took me on! I devoured this book in a few days after finishing from Dawn to Decadence. I was desperate for a good read to take my mind on an adventure and boy did I find that here! Also, I must add a disclaimer that I loved reading this book but I also really enjoy the genre of true-crime in books, podcasts, or even television shows. If you don’t love crime or are not a huge fan of thrillers, this book will not be for you. It’s definitely got a deeper exploration into the suburban mentality that some may enjoy but it is very heavy on the crime drama and the suspense!

The book follows the perspective of the husband who has been married to his “lovely” wife Mildred for fifteen years. The pair have to hustle everyday for a place in their suburban paradise of Hidden Oaks in Florida and to raise their two children. However, their relationship takes an interesting turn when they decide to begin murdering together! Normal spousal fun right? Things take a turn for the worse when the pair resurrect a serial killer to cover their crimes and their deadly romance takes a turn for the worse.

As mentioned, I really enjoyed this one. It kept me on the edge of my seat but I was a little disappointed in the end. I felt that Millicent wasn’t as fleshed out as a character as she could have been but if she had been, the final twist wouldn’t have caught me like it did. I would recommend this but probably not to younger readers! It’s one to take on a nice long road trip or just to bring with you to the beach! Happy reading and let me know what you think if you happen to pick up a copy!

Posted in Quick Breads, Recipes

Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chip Muffins

Fall is here!!! It has been for several weeks but this past week, the fall baking cravings hit me hard! These muffins are amazing! I made them a few times last year but never with the greatest results. I have a tough time with muffins; they can seem so simple to make but are very easy to under or over mix or bake if you’re making them from scratch. These muffins have been described like mini pumpkin pies and they have been universally loved by my taste-testers! The original recipe calls for walnuts and raisins to be added but I don’t love either of those two in muffins so I made a few changes. Also, with this recipe, I was finally able to use the Halloween themed muffin liners that my boyfriend got me and they make me absurdly happy.

The original recipe is from The Village Baker’s Wife, a cookbook by Gayle Ortiz that came out in the seventies! My neighbor was the first to introduce me to it and it’s been my favorite cookbook to bake out of for all-American favorites. The recipes are near fool proof and are versatile for scaling up and scaling down. The book says that this recipe makes about 18 muffins and it really makes me wonder about the size of the bakery’s muffin tins! This recipe easily makes 30 muffins made in the standard 3 by 4 tins that most people have at home. Being slightly limited by my college dorm, I made a mini loaf with the extra batter because I only have two muffin tins. The muffins don’t take long to bake, 15-20 minutes and are worth waiting for them to cool completely before eating! Like with cookies, the chips become molten in the baking process and will burn your mouth if not cooled! The recipe also doesn’t use a full 15 oz can of pumpkin. It uses most of it but there’s just a little bit left over at the end. I wouldn’t put that extra bit in the recipe because it’ll make it a little too wet and it won’t bake properly. It’s too little to make anything substantial but let me know if you come up with a good use for it because I love not wasting food! Enjoy baking and I hope you’re having a lovely fall!

Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chip Muffin Recipe

  • 3 large eggs
  • 446 grams (2 1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 170 grams (6 oz or 3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled (should still be a liquid)
  • 380 grams (1 2/3 cup) pumpkin puree, canned is fine
  • 400 grams (3 1/3 cup) All Purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 400F and line two or three standard muffin tins.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, butter, and pumpkin.
  3. In a smaller bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, spices, nuts, and chocolate chips.
  4. Gently add the dry ingredients to the wet (flour mix to egg mix). Mix until there are just a few dry spots. Those spots will be absorbed in baking and by leaving a few, it prevents over mixing.
  5. Scoop batter into lined muffin cups with an ice cream scoop.
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes. The muffins are done when a knife inserted in their center comes out clean or when the tops spring back to the touch.
  7. Cool in the tins until cool enough to handle. Cool on a wire rack and eat!
Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun

All I can say is OMG I FINALLY FINISHED!!! This book is a WHOPPER of a read and it was recommended to me by a very dear family friend. This family friend has recommended many books to me over the years and it was a treat when he was able to drop this book off for me during the early months of our societal quarantine. I started this book in April which both seems like yesterday and like a lifetime ago! This book is around 800 pages, give or take a hundred additional pages for the references and notes. I’ve been reading this in the background as I couldn’t tackle it all by itself without a serious headache. I feel very accomplished that I was able to finish it but I don’t know if I volunteer for the task again anytime soon.

This tome by Barzun is truly a masterpiece of Western cultural life. I am glad that I read this book; just by reading a few pages a day I’ve learned so much more about the history of culture in the West. While I’ve always treated culture as an interesting footnote in my historical studies, Barzun shows how culture plays such a meaningful role in shaping history and the course of the world. My biggest issue with the book was that Barzun did such an excellent job of describing the first 450 years covered in his book and did such a poor job describing the most recent years that his book purported to cover. I felt that the last fifty years have been done a great injustice by Barzun. Perhaps he was writing from a spot that made him too near to something to write objectively. Barzun’s description of the last fifty years before the close of the work, 1995, was a confused diatribe against modernity. Barzun did a wonderful job of shedding light on the cultural pathways of the west before World War 1 but after his writing is disorganized and extremely critical. Perhaps in the last fifty years, our society has descended into such a state of decadence that it will collapse but I felt that Barzun didn’t do the recent past justice. I enjoyed the experience of reading Barzun’s work but would not recommend this to be consumed by the average reader.

Posted in Cookies, Recipes

Maple Shortbread Cookies

I am so excited to finally have maple shortbread cookies that have worked! For several weeks, I’ve been baking and baking trying to find a good maple shortbread recipe. I’ve never been the biggest fan of shortbread but I’ve recently become absolutely obsessed with the crumbly crunch of these cookies. They remind me a lot of the Great British Baking Show because they seem so quintessentially British. For several weeks, I’ve been trying recipes with various levels of success. I’ve added maple syrup to several recipes to try and emulate that maple flavor without much success. Using maple syrup as a sweetener in a recipe is a lot like using molasses in the way that it adds the moisture and causes the cookies to spread. Maple syrup isn’t a good sweetener for shortbread because it adds a moistness to the cookie that is great for a cake but not so great for a cookie that you want to be very short or crisp. Below is a photo from one of my early experiments. The cookies were delicious but they definitely were not shortbread. They were a joy to eat but not quite what I was aiming for so I decided to try again with a recipe from King Arthur’s Flour.

When I was researching maple shortbread recipes, I came across quite a few that used maple sugar, something that I had never heard off. I looked it up online and even on Amazon, a one pound bag of the stuff sells for around $8!!!! That’s more than I pay for a five pound bag of flour!!! I kept digging and found out exactly what maple sugar is which is the crystallized sugar granules from maple syrup! Being an adventurous baker, I set out to make my own maple sugar from syrup and it turned out really well! You definitely need a candy thermometer to check temperatures but equipped properly, you can have a good quantity of maple sugar in minutes. The process is dangerously simple; you heat the maple syrup in a pot until it reaches about 50-60 degrees above its boiling point. From there, you beat it (by hand or with a stand mixer which is easier) until it crystallizes. Because I have a bit more experience and I can be a little reckless, I decided to do this and came up with about a fourth a cup of maple sugar! I would NOT recommend an amateur baker doing this but it can be done in a pinch if needed. Buying it is definitely easier and safer! If you feel that you have enough experience, look up instructions online and enjoy! I thought it was very fun!

This recipe is adapted from one from King Arthur Flour that actually makes maple shortbread sandwich cookies. My goal was to try and get the maple shortbread nailed before I started doing more complex stuff so my recipe only includes the shortbread dough. I used two different techniques for rolling out the dough. One was a traditional roll and cut out with cookie cutter while the other was using a cookie stamp. My mother gave me a beautiful pinecone cookie stamp for Christmas this past year and I’ve been dying to use it. This recipe gave me a great opportunity to try it and I think it came out very well for a first attempt! Either method you choose to use, I would roll to dough out to about 1/4 of an inch thick. I think it makes for a more satisfying cookie and it holds the shape much better. I hope you enjoy baking these as much as I did!

Maple Shortbread Cookie Recipe

  • 113 grams (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 25 grams (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
  • 39 grams (1/4 cup) maple sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or maple flavor)
  • 131 grams (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) All Purpose flour
  1. Beat together the butter, salt, sugars, and vanilla extract/maple flavor.
  2. Add flour and mix until the dough comes together.
  3. Wrap in cling wrap and chill for thirty minutes if using a cookie cutter. Chill for 2 hours if using a cookie stamp.
  4. Preheat oven to 300F and line a cookie sheet
  5. Cookie Cutters: If using, roll dough out to 1/4″ thick and flour the cutter. Cut out cookies and place on lined sheet.
  6. Cookie Stamps: If using, remove tablespoon scoops from the chilled dough and roll into a ball. Lightly flour both the dough ball and the cookie stamp. Place the dough ball on flour and press down with the cookie stamp. Gently peel the cookie out of the stamp and place on lined sheet.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes depending on thickness of the cookie or until the cookies just begin to brown.
  8. Remove from oven and cool on the cookie sheet.
  9. Once cooled, eat and enjoy!

A comment made by my boyfriend is that the texture is similar to pie crust. If I end up using it as piecrust, I’ll let you know how it goes! The recipe can also be easily doubled for more cookies. They store well in an air tighter container for several days and the dough/cookie can be frozen.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Brief Interlude

It was a nice day, probably one of the last for quite some time, and I was working on my laptop. I looked up and saw a group of four, maybe five, boys across the quad from where I was sitting. The first thought that came to my mind was fury. None of them were wearing masks nor did they appear to be taking the ordinary covid-19 precautions that seem to have become second-nature to me. It was disconcerting to watch them play, just play, on the quad during this time. I almost went over to them and said something but I didn’t. I don’t know what held me back, but I do know that something did. I didn’t chastise them or remind them of the precautions they should be taking because they made me take a moment to reflect. We’re seven months into a pandemic, the president and assorted others have gotten the virus, two hundred thousand plus people have died of covid and these guys are just playing spike ball on a quad.

Their actions made me reflect on all the joys of college that I may never see again. The joy of simply belonging to a group and feeling free to just hang. Today, life is so much more complicated. I rarely see anyone outside of a few friends and my boyfriend which is still many more than most are able to see, but less than I saw as a college student pre-covid. As I now go about my day, I must gear up and gear down whenever entering or exiting my apartment. Fear is a constant companion when I venture out of my home, but I continue to do so because I must. I cannot stay inside all day every day for the rest of my life but I can try to be as careful as humanly possible. But the sight of these boys made me just paused that fear and that worry for some strange reason.

Those boys, while not safe in the slightest, felt like a time capsule into another world, one far removed from the life that we all now live. But looking at them, I could envision a future where covid does not haunt our every move. Where we are able to play and be free amongst each other as we used to be. We will go back to some of the drudgery and work that we once loathed but we will also be able to reclaim that sense of careless joy that coronavirus has stolen away from our lives. One day, when this is in the rearview mirror, we may or may not treasure moments like these. I may think about this moment in ten years as one of reckless behavior, young men totally disregarding the rules of safe social behavior in the pursuit of momentary pleasure. Or I may just be able to treasure this moment as a testament to the joy that went unnoticed in so many of my days pre-covid.