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|| |
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Scrape off the paddle attachment, scrape down the bowl and bring the dough together in a ball.
- 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.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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?