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 Pastry, Recipes

Bacon, Chive, and Cheddar Scones

I made this recipe over the summer, somewhat successfully but I actually lacked the proper amount of chives that the recipe called for. Last week, I got a massive bunch of chives within my CSA box and immediately thought of this recipe to put them to use. A quick side note on CSA boxes! Over the summer, I worked in food systems and nutrition research and found out that CSA boxes were not only a great way to help a local farm but they also help you to reduce the carbon footprint of your food because it is sourced locally and it has helped me a ton in my journey to become a better cook. CSA stands for community supported agriculture and it’s much more common that I had previously thought. The pandemic has actually increased interest in this and many farms are unable to keep up with the demand!!!

It was hard to find an open slot when I came back to school in the fall but I’ve been getting a weekly “Ugly” share from Moon Valley Farm which delivers to various locations in Baltimore. My share or box usually contains various vegetables with the occasionally bunch of fruit and it has encouraged me to really broaden my culinary horizons. One of the veggies that has come pretty consistently in my boxes the past few weeks is okra, which I had never ever cooked or eaten. Now, I’m enjoying an okra and tomato stew for lunch that I never could have made a few months ago! I really enjoy my CSA box but I also have the time to dissect and cook through my whole box. It can be really tough at first but I have learned a lot and love getting my box every week. I encourage everyone to look into purchasing locally sourced agriculture in any form, not just from a CSA. It both reduces your carbon footprint and encourages you to eat seasonally! Although, I am still tempted by the sales of pineapple and lemons from far-away countries so even my food purchasing process has quite a bit of leeway!

Back to the baking aspect of this blog! This recipe is based off a recipe that came in my King Arthur Scone pan that was a Christmas gift from my lovely parents. I did make a few changes to the recipe to fit it to what I had in the fridge and to lighten up the recipe a little. American scones are a pretty heavy affair, full of butter and cream. Because I had some frozen low fat buttermilk, I defrosted that and used it in the recipe and it worked out really well! I often have to buy dairy for recipes but I don’t really drink it or use it in other recipes so I’ve taken to freezing it in specific quantities and defrosting it as needed. Fresh dairy is always preferable but if I’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that you must be flexible! On a college budget, I’m always looking for ways to stretch my grocery budget and my freezer has been the greatest thing ever for helping me do that. I also substituted the regular bacon for turkey bacon. It’s not as greasy and I think it adds plenty of flavor without some of the fat. I’ll put the original recipe guidance down below in parentheses next to my additions. I really recommend not doing the recipe if you don’t have enough chives or green onions. The two are interchangeable and you could probably even use half of each if you don’t have enough of them individually. They really add just a subtle onion flavor that complements the overall scone. These come together super quickly and are a delicious breakfast treat! They can also be frozen and baked at will, just freeze the dough before you get to the step where you brush them with buttermilk/cream. Let me know if you try the recipe in the comments below and happy baking!

Bacon, Chive, and Cheddar Scone Recipe

  • 241 grams (2 cups) All Purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 14 grams (1 tablespoon) baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (offsets bitterness of baking powder, please use)
  • 57 grams (4 tablespoons) cold, unsalted butter
  • 113 grams (1 cup) coarsely grated or diced cheddar cheese
  • 14 grams (1/3 cup) chopped fresh chives
  • 227 grams (1/2 pound) turkey bacon, cooked, cooled, and crumbled (original recipe calls for regular bacon)
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk (original recipe calls for heavy cream)
  1. Preheat oven to 425F with a rack in the middle or upper third of the oven. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the flour, slat, baking powder, and sugar. Work the butter into the flour mixture until the mix is unevenly crumbly with the butter in pea sized pieces.
  3. Mix in cheese, chives, and bacon until evenly distributed.
  4. Add 3/4 cup of buttermilk or cream, stirring to combine. Try to squeeze the dough together and if it won’t stay cohesive, add a little more buttermilk or cream.
  5. Transfer dough to lined cookie sheet and pat into a 7 inch disk about 3/4 inch thick. Use a knife or bench scraper to cut the disk into 8 wedges. Separate these wedges a little and brush them lightly with buttermilk or cream.
  6. Bake scones in the middle or upper third of oven for 22-24 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and cool them in the pan they were baked.
Posted in Cookies, Recipes

Almond Flour Shortbread Cookies

So these cookies owe their inspiration to my lovely friend, Hannah. We were video chatting the other day and she talked about all the lovely things that she’s been making with her gluten free sourdough starter! It put me in the mood to make something but I had less than an hour before my next class so it had to be something quick. Hannah suggested banana bread, a quarantine classic, but I’m embarrassingly behind on my grocery shopping and didn’t have much around. I didn’t set out to make a gluten-free recipe but it was the easiest and quickest with the ingredients I had available. The recipe has five ingredients, most of which you’ll probably have in your pantry. I always have almond flour around because I make macarons frequently but it’s not a hard ingredient to find in most grocery stores.

Now for the tips and tricks with this recipe! This made about 17 bite size cookies and I had to hold myself back from eating most of them! The cookies aren’t very big and the batch size is small so feel free to scale up the recipe to fit your needs. However, I wouldn’t adjust the size of the cookies. Even with using melted butter, these cookies are VERY short/crumbly. This is due to the use of almond flour and makes a very easy crumbly cookie. If they were made any larger, they would probably collapse under their own weight when picked up. The cross-hatching is also super easy to do with a fork, no special equipment required! This recipe is from the King Arthur Flour website and on it, they have several variations for the flavor of the cookie including chocolate/pistachio and maple/pecan. I would start with the basic recipe and expand on that! Even if you wanted to try all the different flavor variations, it wouldn’t take more than an afternoon. So get busy and get baking!

Almond Flour Cookie Recipe

  • 96 grams (1 cup) almond flour
  • 43 grams (3 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature or softened
  • 21 grams (3 tablespoons) powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl until a cohesive dough forms.
  3. Scoop out 1 inch balls of dough using a teaspoon cookie scoop and arrange on the sheet. Leave out an inch and a half of room between dough balls.
  4. Use a fork to flatten each cookie, making a cross hatch design on top.
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes or until they turn light brown on top (My oven took about 12 minutes)
  6. Remove and let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer them to a rack to completely cool before eating.
Posted in Quick Breads, Recipes

Buttermilk Granola Muffins

I made these lovely muffins a few weeks ago during a particularly fruitful burst of baking. I always have leftover buttermilk from soda bread or other recipes that just sits in my fridge for weeks. With this recipe, I was finally able to use the leftover buttermilk but never fear, this recipe can be totally vegan if you choose or if you just lack buttermilk. The buttermilk in the recipe can be substituted for any type of fruit juice but I would suggest one that corresponds to the granola that you choose to use for this recipe. This recipe was an win for me because I’ve struggled with muffins in recent years. I can make them just fine from a mix but I haven’t found a good “from scratch” muffin recipe in a while. I’m so glad that I came across this recipe, it produced a ton of muffins which I’ve been enjoying for breakfast.

One note for the recipe concerning the type of granola used. Being a student on a budget, I could have made my own granola (time consuming but perhaps cheaper) or buy the cheapest option from the local grocery store. I choose the store route and have some regrets about the granola that I got which which was basically honey and vanilla flavored oats….So, I would recommend choosing your granola a little more carefully than I did. Go with something with larger clusters or with lots of dried fruit. I wish you luck and happy granola hunting if you decide to make these delectable muffins!

Buttermilk Granola Muffin Recipe

  • 227 grams whole wheat flour (2 cups)
  • 213 grams brown sugar, packed (1 cup)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 99 grams prepared granola (1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 67 grams vegetable oil (1/3 cup)
  • 340 grams low-fat or full-fat buttermilk (1 1/2 cups)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F and grease a muffin tin. If using cups, making sure to grease those as well, the batter will stick.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla extract, vegetable oil, and buttermilk.
  3. Pour liquid ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined
  4. Spoon batter into cups until 2/3 full.
  5. Sprinkle with additional granola and bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Remove muffins from the oven but not the tins. After five minutes or when cool enough to handle, transfer the muffins to a rack to a cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.