Linzer Cookies with Maple Cream
A while ago, I stumbled upon a magical video that shows how to make maple cream from maple syrup. In one sentence, you heat the syrup, let it cool and then stir, for about an hour! That’s it. In the video, they take pride in stirring by hand using a wooden spoon. Not me. I take pride in my standing mixer, capable doing the same thing while I drink a cup of coffee and prepare the dough for the cookies.
In addition to the endless stirring, there’s one more trick. The syrup has to be light maple syrup (Grade A). It’s a rare kind. Its color is light and taste is subtle. The syrup is made at the start of the maple syrup making season, just before spring begins to warm. It’s not easy to find such maple syrup in Jerusalem, so I tried to make maple cream with regular (amber/dark) syrup. It didn’t work.
Fortunately, last month I got to travel to the US. I even visited Minnesota (any closer to Canada and I’d be in Canada itself). Ironically, I found light maple syrup in Maple Grove. The city was once known for its abundance of maple trees and was actually a significant source of maple syrup. I bought two 237 ml bottles, one for testing and one for the cookies.
On my first attempt I boiled the syrup a little too much. Instead of maple cream I got a horribly sweet maple candy. I made it a second time and got maple cream, almost as sweet as before. The cream reminded me of royal icing glaze that you make from powdered sugar and egg whites, especially texture wise. I decided to make cookies, linzer style, and fill them up with maple cream. To be honest, the cream turned out to be too sweet to my taste, but the experiment was indeed interesting.
175 g flour
20 g almond meal
80 g powdered sugar
½ tsp salt
100 g cold butter (cut into cubes)
40 g egg yolks
5 g water (1 tsp)
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 cup light maple syrup (Grade A)
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp powdered sugar
Round cookie cutter, 4 cm in diameter
A smaller cookie cutter, leaf shaped
The recipe makes 22 sweet cookies
Put flour, almond powder, powdered sugar, salt and butter cubes in the mixer bowl and keep in the fridge for about 10 minutes. Remove from fridge. Using the paddle attachment, start mixing at low-medium speed until the batter reaches sand-like consistency. Make sure the butter chunks are as small as possible at the end of the process without melting the butter.
Mix egg yolk, water and vanilla paste together and add to the mixer bowl all at once. Keep mixing at medium speed until the dough starts to form but is not yet completely uniform. Remove dough parts from the bowl and combine. Place the dough on parchment paper. Flatten the dough a little bit and lay another parchment paper on top.
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin between the two parchment papers to a 3 mm thickness. Keep turning the dough throughout. Place the dough with the parchment papers on a tray. Keep in the fridge for at least an hour. (You can start making the maple cream in the meantime).
When the dough is stiff and cold, remove the parchment papers and place the dough back on one of the papers. In a cool room, using a 4 cm round cookie cutter, cut out circles from the dough and with half of them, cut out a leaf shape or a smaller circle in the center. Keep in the freezer. Preheat the oven to 150 ºC (300 ºF).
Please note (!) If at any point the dough starts to soften, put it back in the fridge until it is stiff again.
When the desired temperature is reached, remove the cookies from the freezer and transfer them to another baking tray. Place the tray in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Remove from oven and cool at room temperature.
Pour the maple syrup into a saucepan. Place on low-medium heat and cook to 113 ºC (235 ºF). Don’t stir and let the maple syrup boil. If it starts to reach a rolling boil, lower the flame. In the meantime prepare an ice bath (A wide pan full of ice with a clean stainless steel bowl inside of it).
Once the desired temperature is reached, remove the saucepan from heat and pour the maple syrup into the bowl in the ice bath. Let the maple syrup cool to 38 ºC (100 ºF) without stirring. Once it’s cool, remove from the ice bath. Wipe the bottom of the bowl and transfer the maple syrup into the mixer bowl.
Begin stirring the maple syrup with the paddle attachment on the lowest speed. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. After about 30-60 minutes, the consistency will start to thicken (and will resemble the consistency of tahini). Once the maple loses its shine, it’s ready. I advise you to stir the maple syrup towards the end of the process with a wooden spoon until ready.
In the meantime, turn over the whole cookies with the flat surface facing up. For the decoration, mix powdered sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle over the cutout cookies.
Once the maple cream is ready, transfer it into a pastry bag. Cut a small opening at the edge. Pipe a bit of maple cream on top of each whole cookie. Place the cutout cookies on top and press gently so the cream squishes a bit between them. Pipe the rest of the maple cream into a clean jar and close tightly.Yum
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