on December 23, 2014
I can recall sitting on a tree stump, bundled up from the cold winter air as I watched the bark of a maple tree be pierced and the sugary sap ooze out. I must have been seven or eight, but I could have been older, or younger. Some 20 years on, the details of the school field trip have faded.
Did we sip on little cups of hot chocolate to keep warm? I think so.
Where exactly was it? The farm felt a world away from my small suburban town, but we couldn’t have traveled too far.
Did we visit again the following school year? I’m not quite sure.
Over the last few years I’ve thought back to this experience, as I’ve been cooking with maple syrup quite a bit. After all, it’s a quintessential New England flavor; if you’re from here, you just have to embrace it – even when it looks different; I recently found my traditional maple syrup transformed into a grate-able solid thanks to the people at Tonewood Maple. Inspired by the discovery, I set out to make what I thought would be a maple-infused shortbread, a little combination of my birth home and my former expat home of Ireland.
Chemistry took over, though, and the result was not at all as I had intended. Rather than a batch of buttery, crumbly biscuits, I opened the oven to find a pan of crispy, wafer-like cookies. I stared at them with disappointment, but I couldn’t stop eating them. It took me a couple more tries to decide if they were in fact a failure or a success, but in the end, I settled on the latter.
With their crispy texture, these savory-sweet “accidents” are just begging to be dunked, making them a great addition to your afternoon tea or coffee break, or a not-too-indulgent after-dinner treat. And if you really want that little bit of Irish flavor that’s lacking here, then put on the kettle, bring out the milk and make a pot of Barry’s tea. There’s nothing more Irish than that!
Maple sea salt cookies
Makes about 2 dozen
• 85 g white flour
• 60 g butter
• 25 g caster sugar
• 20 g grated maple or maple flakes (available from Tonewood Maple)
• Maple syrup
• Sea salt
Combine flour, sugar and maple in a large bowl. Rub in the butter.
Knead the mixture lightly until it comes together and can be formed into a ball.
Roll out between two pieces of parchment paper until just a few millimeters thick. Place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Use cookie cutters to cut dough into desired shape. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the tops of the cookies with maple syrup. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges have browned.