Maple Walnut Cookies elicit feelings of love and gratitude. The chemistry between maple syrup, butter and walnuts create euphoria. Brace yourself. There is a real advantage to keeping these little miracles tiny. Firstly, they are fragile, thus taking 2-3 bites of a larger cookie will cause the cookie to crumble into your lap (not a great experience). Second, they are rich enough that one bite will hit the spot. If someone takes a second or third cookie, it’s a compliment. If they continue past that without breathing, it’s an addiction.
One more note before we begin, I have given this recipe to you almost verbatim from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Rose's Christmas Cookies. Even though I’ve rearranged the instructions and added a few notes and reminders, there is nothing to improve on or change, as Rose has the details very well covered.
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MISE-EN-PLACE FOR THE COOKIE DOUGH
- Measure butter, cut it into small pieces and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
- Whisk together flours and salt.
- Toast the walnuts and let cool.
- Measure the sugar.
- Ready the food processor.
- Separate 2 eggs and weigh the yolks.
- Add the vanilla to the yolks.
- Lay two sheets of plastic wrap on a clean, available surface.
MAKE THE COOKIE DOUGH
- Add walnuts and sugar to the bowl of the food processor and wiz until they are a fine powder.
- Add the butter and process until well blended.
- Add the egg yolks and vanilla. Pulse again until just incorporated.
- Add the flour and pulse for the last time until just combined.
NOTE FOR SUCCESS
- Be aware that you’ll want the dough to remain cool to the touch. Be careful not to over process the dough because the speed of the blade will generate heat, affecting its temperature. Respecting the temperature at this point will yield a sandier texture in the finished cookie. Over processing will also create a tough cookie.
FINISHING THE COOKIE DOUGH
- Pour the dough onto a clean surface and lightly gather it into two pieces. The dough will be soft and pliable, but should not be warm and gummy.
- Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate, no longer than 4 hours.
Cutting the cookie dough.
NOTE FOR COOKIE SUCCESS
- Keep in mind here that the goal is to create a crispy, sandy cookie sandwich. With two 1/8” cookies, you will have ¼” of total cookie in your sandwich, which will be sufficient. If you roll the dough to ¼” (even though it would be easier to handle), you’ll have ½” of cookie and you’ll lose the delicacy of the overall experience.
Use a sharp knife to mark the veins of the leaf.
MARKING THE CUT COOKIE
- With the dull edge of an offset spatula, the back side of a small knife, or with the dull side of a butter knife, score the cookie resembling veins of a maple leaf.
NOTE FOR COOKIE SUCCESS
- Examine your cookie cutter. Is it perfectly symmetrical? If so, you will be able to sandwich perfectly shaped cookies. If not, be sure to flip over the cut, unbaked cookies and mark the back side so that the sandwich will go together in mirror image. If you pass over this detail (so easy to do) then you’ll have to sacrifice the markings on one side, or you’ll have mismatched cookies, which will be disappointing after all that work.
Cookies just out of the oven.
BAKE THE COOKIES
- Bake the full sheets at 350ºF
- Set the timer for 6 minutes and add one minute at a time to ensure they don’t get too brown.
- You want the finished cookies to be barely brown and set.
- The cookies will be very fragile when hot and even when cool.
- Handle them gently.
MAPLE WALNUT BUTTER CREAM FILLING
- It is best not to make this buttercream on a very hot and humid day (unless your kitchen is air-conditioned) because it will be difficult to control the temperature of the butter. Even as the sugar cools and thickens the buttercream, if the butter is too warm, then the buttercream could be soupy or too loose and won’t spread nicely.
SPECIAL BUTTERCREAM EQUIPMENT
- Hand-held electric mixer. Small pastry bag with a coupler and pastry tip #8 (3/8” diameter) (Optional) (See EQUIPMENT NOTES), offset spatula.
MIS-EN-PLACE FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
- Measure eggs yolk into a medium bowl that will ultimately hold the buttercream.
- In a small saucepan, measure the sugar and 1 ounce of maple syrup.
- Measure the softened butter, set aside.
- Pull out the 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup, and measure it into a small bowl.
- Measure and toast the walnuts.
- Chop them very very fine. (See INGREDIENTS NOTES).
MIX THE BUTTERCREAM
- Beat the egg yolks with the handheld mixer until pale yellow.
- Put the sugar syrup on low heat until reaches a boil, stirring constantly.
- Stop stirring and allow the syrup to come to a rolling boil (the entire surface will be covered with large bubbles).
- At this point, immediately remove the syrup from the heat and with the mixer running, pour the syrup in a slow steady stream into the yolks, and continue beating until the mixture is completely cool.
- NOTE: This sugar syrup will overheat more quickly than a regular sugar/water syrup because there is less water to buffer the heat.
- With the sugar/egg yolk mixture cool, add the butter one tablespoon at a time until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Add the maple syrup flavouring and walnuts, if using.
FILL THE SANDWICH COOKIES
- These cookies are very fragile and will break if you try to hold them while spreading the buttercream. They need the support of a flat surface.
Filling the cookies with a pastry bag.
- Lay out the cookies with the un-marked side up.
- If using an offset spatula, spread a small amount of buttercream and press a second cookie gently.
- If using a piping bag, pipe three dots of buttercream on one cookie and gently press a second cookie to form the sandwich.
STORE THE COOKIES
- Being that these cookies have a buttercream filling, they should be served and eaten at room temperature; however, if you need to store the cookies, keep them in the fridge for 1 week, or 1 month in the freezer.
- Note that cookies that are kept in the fridge lose some of their crispiness, but are still very delicious.
Maple Walnut Cookies, The Finer Cookie.
BUTTERCREAM INGREDIENT NOTES
- Walnuts: chop the nuts very, very fine, to almost a powder, but not a paste. The finer the walnuts are chopped, the more successful the buttercream will be. If they aren’t chopped finely enough, the walnuts will get stuck through the pastry tip (if using), and/or will interfere with the sandwiches laying flat.
BUTTERCREAM EQUIPMENT NOTES
The size of this tip can vary according to the size of your cookie. The goal is to apply the appropriate amount of buttercream to the cookie, so choose a tip that is the right size for your cookie.