Soft Maple Sugar Cookies + cookie swap recap

We’ve been on the Christmas cookie train longer than the tree has been up, since before the the first greeting card arrived, and well in advance of the deep drifts of snow blanketing our homestead.

‘Tis the nature of my work; I was developing recipes for a feature in Montreal’s French newspaper, La Presse, hence frosted, cut-out cookies were in abundance shortly after our Thanksgiving celebrations ended.

Early tryouts for the best holiday cookie meant that there was more time to narrow down a favourite and find that unique recipe to highlight for my annual cookie swap. This year, that cookie was a soft, maple-sweetened delicacy, cut into snowflake shapes, topped with a maple syrup glaze and dusted with sparkling sugar.

I wouldn’t tell you about these soft maple sugar cookies without sharing the recipe for your own baking project, so who is ready to dust off the cookie cutters?


Now, in my personal opinion, shortbread is best when cumbly, chocolate chip cookies need to have a little chew to them, and sugar cookies must be soft and tender. These snowflakes melt in your mouth, almost like a delicate scone but in cookie form.

Cream cheese in the dough adds to the soft texture and helps to keep the cookies tender when they cool – and fresh for several days after baking.

If you like maple, these cookies have a triple dose of our favourite sweetener. The dough contains both pure maple sugar and a few drops of maple flavouring, while the maple syrup glaze puts this cookie over the top.

I also tested the recipe with raw cane sugar in place of the maple sugar, and it works just fine. If maple sugar is hard to come by in your area, rest assured you can still enjoy these soft cream cheese sugar cookies.


Soft Maple Sugar Cookies
4.5 from 2 reviews
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Serves/Yield: 24 3-inch cookies
A tender, lightly sweetened cookie, beloved by people of all ages. Cookie dough can be mixed up in advance, and then rolled and cut out with children’s help
Ingredients
  • ½ cup whipped cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup pure maple sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon artificial maple extract
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together cream cheese, butter and maple sugar on high speed. Beat for at least two minutes, until fluffy like frosting. Occasionally stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the egg and pour in the vanilla and maple extract. Beat again until smooth.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and salt. With the mixer turned off, tip the flour all at once into the wet ingredients. Mix on low until just combined.
  3. Scrape off the paddle attachment, scrape down the bowl and bring the dough together in a ball.
  4. Turn the cookie dough onto a length of plastic wrap. Press to flatten slightly, then wrap tightly and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. On a well-floured surface, roll cookie dough to ¼ inch thick. Cut out desired cookie shapes using your favourite cookie cutters (I use 3-inch snowflake cookie cutters). Dip the cookie cutter in flour each time so the soft dough doesn’t stick to the cutter.
  7. Transfer cookie cut outs to a rimmed baking sheet, spacing them at least one inch apart. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 7-8 minutes or until very lightly golden around the edges. Do not overbake. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes on the pan. Transfer to a wire baking rack and cool completely.
  8. To make the glaze, stir together powdered sugar and maple syrup in a small bowl. Place the wire rack with the cookie still on it back onto the baking sheet. Drizzle the glaze over top of the cookies, letting the excess drip down onto the pan. Alternatively, transfer the glaze to a small plastic squeeze bottle. Make snowflake designs on the cookies. Dust with sparkling sugar, if desired.
  9. Let the cookies sit at room temperature for a minimum of 1 hour for the glaze to set. Transfer to an airtight container, adding a piece of parchment paper between each layer.
  10. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Notes
You may substitute raw cane sugar in place of the maple sugar.

Cookie Swap Recap:

Last week I invited more than a dozen friends over on a Sunday afternoon to kick off the holiday season with a cookie swap. These bakers really rose to the occasion, creating 24 varieties of cookies, all totalling over 1000. My dining room table was positively laden!

We sipped eggnog, winter sangria and apple cider punch, all while sampling the wide array of Christmas cookies. Later, after the swap, my friends left with tins and Tupperware heaping with an incredible assortment of home baking. There were smiles all around!

Quite a few people asked on Instagram asked how I host a cookie swap: this post sums it up. The format may change slightly from year to year, but the gist of it is in that post. I’ve been swapping cookie every Christmas almost ten years running.

There’s still time to host a cookie swap of your own; just invite a few friends over, make a pitcher of punch and a pot of coffee and voila!

Do you have a favourite holiday cookie?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. I don’t see the maple extract in the ingredient list….?

  2. Whipped cream cheese… is that different than brick cream cheese that has been whipped?

    These are exactly the cookie I’ve been looking for!

  3. Favourite cookie… do mince tartlets count? I’m definitely a shortbread girl. As an additional thought, I really like when my Mum makes things my late English grandmother used to make for her Christmas cookie trays… a real mix recipes reflecting of her English roots and new Ottawa Valley favourites. Sometimes, it’s all about the nostalgia… and remembering : )

  4. Pretty cookies and pictures!

  5. Oh. My. Maple. This makes me exceedingly happy! I was on your blog to look up a good brie recipe and THIS is the first thing I see! I love working with maple sugar….. I bet it would translate nicely to sucanat as well, for when maple sugar is out of the budget. Thanks for sharing this recipe! Now, off to find the brie!

  6. Making this tonight for a Christmas party for new Canadians and other neighbours at our church tomorrow. I thought the maple twist makes it a fun “Canadian” Christmas recipe. I’ve never known where to find maple sugar in Calgary, so it’s just going to be regular cane sugar with extra maple extract. Thanks for your awesome recipes, Aimee!

  7. Just made the recipe as published in La Presse. There was a translation typo on the French version ( maple syrup instead of maple sugar). No wonder my dough was so soft and sticky! Had to add almost one more cup of flour to make it right! Still delicious!

    • Oh my gosh, are you SERIOUS?? I am so very sorry. Not my fault, La Presse guaranteed they would do the translation. UGH. Thank you for bringing this to my attention and I am so sorry about your troubles.

      • No worries…nothing a bit of extra flour couldn’t fix! And it was a fun story to tell at our cookie exchange gathering. I’ll try the recipe with maple sugar to see the difference

  8. hi there! If I do away with the glaze, will it affect the sweetness of the cookie mightily? also, you mentioned 3 days at room temp. . . if I wanted it to last a week or 10 days, would you recommend I put it in the fridge? and lastly, can I use regular cream cheese? Sorry for all the questions but I LOVE maple syrup anything. I made your maple-pecan pie for Thanksgiving, and folks (including myself!) LOVED IT!

  9. I really like when my Mum makes things my late English grandmother used to make for her Christmas cookie trays

  10. BIJAYA KUMAR says:

    I think these Star Sugar Cookies are Great for Everyday Starting. The Mist Important thing I like Sweet. I will must Try it at Home. Thanks

  11. Cat Morrow says:

    Gingerbread and sugar cookies are essential in my house. (Also peanut butter) I love that these are sweetened mostly with maple. I’ll have to try them sometime.

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