Showing posts with label maple sugar cookies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label maple sugar cookies. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What Do Maple Syrup Grades Mean? Cleo Coyle Gives You a Clue and a Recipe!


This past weekend Vermont had its annual Maple Festival, a celebration that's been held for nearly five decades to mark the end of the state's sugaring season. The season, which generally runs from early March through late April, is the time when "sugar makers" collect sap from their maple trees and boil it down into sweet sticky syrup, not to mention maple sugar, maple candy, and maple cream (okay, so I mentioned them). 

Click here for a list of Vermont maple syrup producers, many of whom have online shops. 

Cleo Coyle, maple maniac,
is author of The
Coffeehouse Mysteries
All this maple syrup talk has put me in the mood to get busy eating it. Lately, I've been splashing it into oatmeal, stirring it into yogurt, and baking up maple sugar cookies, too (recipe below), which leads me to a note on ingredients. 


Maple vs. "Pancake" Syrup


As most of you know, pure maple syrup has one ingredient: maple syrup. That stuff they label "pancake syrup" is actually corn syrup flavored with maple extract.
 
I once tried baking with "pancake syrup"--I mean, hey, it is less expensive than pure maple syrup, and I thought, oh, what the heck. My "pancake syrup" muffins turned out dry and mealy. I threw them away. Pure maple syrup costs more, but you get a superior taste and texture from the real thing, even better nutrition.

Maple Syrup is Healthier
than Corn Syrup or Honey

That's right, maple syrup has less calories than honey or corn syrup, and far more value in nutrition. According to the FDA: 1/4 cup of maple syrup (216 calories) will give you 95% of the Recommended Daily Value of Manganese; 37% of Riboflavin, 6% Zinc, 7% Magnesium, 5% Calcium, and 5% Potassium.  

In comparison, 1/4 of corn syrup (220 calories) carries almost no nutrition; and while honey (261 calories) and brown sugar (216 calories) bring more to the table than white sugar or corn syrup, in terms of nutrition, they don't come close to the benefits of maple syrup. 
Understanding Maple Syrup's 
Labels and Grading...

You may have noticed maple syrups include grades on their labels, but maple Grades A and B are not about quality, they're about color, density, and taste

I'll put it another way: some people prefer dark beer, others light. One isn't better than the other, just different. The same will likely be true for your own taste in maple syrup. One isn't "better" than the other, they're simply different. The descriptions below should help give you a clue, which ones are for you...


Photograph courtesy Wikicommons 

All US states must use the USDA color standards to grade (or classify) their maple syrups, but (here's the tricky party) each state is allowed to use its own words to describe these colors. 

Because Canada supplies 80% of the world's maple syrup, I'm going to decode their wording along with the USDA's. 

After Canada, the state of Vermont is the leading maple syrup producer, so I'll also include their wording. First up...

Grade A - Light Amber -
Description: This is the first syrup of the season that is harvested. It is clear and light in color with a very mild maple flavor. Good on ice cream and other foods that allow a subtle maple flavor to come through
Vermont calls this grade "Fancy" and Canada calls it "Extra Light."

Grade A - Medium Amber
Description: This is the grade you'll most often find on store shelves. It has characteristic maple flavor and is a little darker in color than "light" or "fancy" and has a slightly heavier maple taste. It's good for pancakes, waffles, and is generally popular for the table. 
Vermont calls this grade "Medium Amber" ~ Canada calls it "No. 1 Light Grade A."

Grade A - Dark Amber (my favorite)
Description: This grade is produced toward the end of the maple syrup season as the weather begins to warm up. It's a darker shade than "Medium Amber" and imparts a stronger maple flavor. I find this to be a satisfying syrup for table use--pancakes, waffles, and also very good on yogurt and oatmeal. I like it's versatility because it's robust enough for baking, too. For those of you who'd like a more hearty and classic maple flavor, this is it. 
Vermont calls this grade "Dark Amber" ~ Canada calls it "No. 1 Medium Grade A").

Grade B -
Description: This syrup is much darker than the others and is made at the end of the sugaring season. It imparts the strongest flavor of maple--maybe too strong for some with notes of caramel. This is sometimes called "cooking syrup" because it's primarily used in recipes--meat marinades, breads, muffins, etc. According to Vermont's literature, this grade is gaining popularity in use at the table. 
Vermont calls this one "Grade B" ~ Canada calls it "No. 2 Amber."

Final note: Vermont has a Grade even darker than B called "Commercial" ~ Canada calls this very dark Grade "No. 2 Dark," but you're not likely to see these grades sold in stores. Also - according to the University of Vermont, Canada uses slightly different color standards, which lead to slightly darker syrups in each of the above grades. 

And there you have it, the grades explained!

As for my recipe today, it's a simple but delicious one that makes use of pure maple syrup. The cookies are great with coffee, tea, or big glass of moo juice. If you bake them, I certainly hope you will...

Eat with joy!
~ Cleo 



Cleo Coyle's
Maple Sugar Cookies


Recipe adapted from The Vermont
Maple Festival Maple Cookbook*

(*Ingredients were changed, and the directions were changed and completely rewritten--but the cookbook did inspire me!)

To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here

Makes about 2 dozen cookies 

Ingredients:
½ cup (8 tablespoons) butter
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup (the real stuff, not "pancake syrup")
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
(for rolling) 1/3 cup white, granulated sugar

Directions:

Step 1 - Make the dough: Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and light brown sugar. When well blended, add the maple syrup, lightly beaten egg, and vanilla, and mix until well blended. Lightly sift the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking soda) into the bowl and mix until a dough forms. Do not over mix or you will develop the gluten in the flour and your cookies will be tough instead of tender. Chill for about 30 minutes. 



Step 2 – Roll and bake: Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough into balls of about 1-inch in diameter. Drop each dough ball into a shallow bowl of granulated sugar (about
1/3 cup) and lightly coat before placing on the sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, remove from oven, cool and...


Eat with joy!
~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Learn about my books here.






To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.
 






The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 
To learn more, click here. 
 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure


Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
Mysteries
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Maple Cookies 2 Ways from Cleo Coyle


Spring is the season for tapping maple trees and boiling down their sap into sweet, delicious syrup. In fact, this weekend marks the annual Maple Festival in Vermont. (April 27 - 29, 2012) Click here to learn about the festival activities or get directions to St. Albans, VT. (They even select a King and Queen of Maple. :))

Maple syrup was a star ingredient in some of my past recipe posts. If you missed my recipes for my Supernatural Sticky Wings or Smoky-Sweet Vinaigrette, then click here and here to get the illustrated PDFs.

My post today uses maple syrup in a more traditional way: an old-fashioned maple cookie. 



BAKING FYI...


Here are some tips for bakers on replacing the sugar in your recipe with maple syrup...

According to the Vermont Maple Festival Cookbook, you can replace 1 cup of granulated sugar with 3/4 cup to 1 cup of maple syrup. Just be sure to decrease the liquid in your recipe by 2 to 4 tablespoons per 1 cup of syrup because syrup contains more moisture than solid granulated sugar. You'll also need to add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon baking soda because maple syrup has a slight acidity, which needs to be neutralized for the batter to rise and form properly. Note: If your recipe contains buttermilk, sour cream, sour milk, or yogurt, then the ingredient list should have baking soda in it already for this same reason, so don't worry about adding more. Finally, decrease your oven by 25 degrees F. because a batter containing maple syrup will tend to caramelize and burn on the top edges more quickly than a batter using a solid sweetener like sugar.

Happy baking, everyone!
 ~ Cleo  


Above you see my 1st version of this maple cookie, which
I finished with a simple brushing of maple syrup. (It really kicks
up the maple flavor.) See a photo of my 2nd version
of this cookie at the end of this recipe. . . . 
       
Cleo Coyle, author
of The Coffeehouse
 Mysteries


Maple Cookies 
2 Ways! 

Adapted from
The Vermont Maple Festival
Maple Cookbook







To download this recipe in a free PDF that you can print save or share, click here






Makes about 2 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS:

For cookies

½ cup (8 tablespoons) butter
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup (the real stuff, not "pancake syrup")
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

For (1) Sugar-dusting
1/3 cup white, granulated sugar

Or for (2) Quick maple glaze
¼ cup maple syrup

Step 1 - Make the Batter: Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and light brown sugar. When well blended, add the maple syrup, lightly beaten egg, and vanilla, and mix until well blended. Lightly sift the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking soda) into the bowl and mix until a dough forms. Do not over mix or you will develop the gluten in the flour and your cookies may be tough instead of tender. Chill for about 30 minutes.

Step 2 - Prep the Oven: Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Step 3 - Roll and Bake: Roll the dough into balls of about 1-inch in diameter. If you want to maple-glaze some or all of your cookies then simply place the dough balls onto your prepared baking sheet, leaving room for spreading. If you want sugar-coated cookies, then drop each dough ball into a shallow bowl of granulated sugar (about 1/3 cup) and lightly coat before placing on the sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Step 4 - Quick Maple glaze: For those cookies you’d like to glaze with maple, work with the cookies while they’re still warm. Dip a pastry or silicone brush into a bit of maple syrup. Brush the tops of the cookies with the syrup. This will really kick up the maple flavor.







Traditional Maple Glaze: For another maple glaze recipe, one that will harden into a more traditional glaze, click here to download a free PDF of my Healthier Oatmeal Cookies with optional Maple Glaze.








In the Maple Cookie pictured below, I rolled the dough ball
in granulated sugar before baking for a simple,
old fashioned maple sugar cookie.





Eat with joy!
~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries




To get more of my recipes, enter to win
free coffee, or learn about my books, including
my bestselling 
Haunted Bookshop series, visit my online coffeehouse: CoffeehouseMystery.com



The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 
 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure


Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
Mysteries
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.


******************