If you’ve ever travelled to Canada, you’ve most likely seen displays of maple leaf cookie boxes in airport duty-free stores and souvenir shops. They sure look like a gimmick, given the steep price at which they are sold and the fact that they bring together two of Canada’s conspicuous icons: the maple leaf, and maple syrup. It may surprise you to learn that we actually grew up eating them. You see, boxes of maple leaf cookies (made with real maple syrup!) were also sold at grocery stores for a fraction of the souvenir shop price, so those addictive treats were no more an indulgence than say, Oreo cookies. At home when I was a kid, biscuits feuille d’érable were on heavy rotation in the lineup of cookies that took up a whole shelf in our pantry, and they were always my first choice when they did make an appearance.
While I know my parents still buy them from time to time, it’s been a really long time since I’ve had them in my pantry. I recently stumbled upon a recipe I had printed out a few years ago and it was the perfect timing: the start of a new maple season. I quickly whipped up a batch and—no surprise—found them even better the store-bought version. Not only is the creamy filling bursting with maple flavor (I may or may not have eaten some by the spoonful), but the cookies, which are made with maple sugar instead of regular granulated sugar, have an incredibly appealing sablé texture that almost melts in the mouth. They are not cheap cookies to make: the recipe does require a nice quantity of maple products (sugar, syrup, and butter), but the yield is impressive and I swear the result is better than any maple-flavored store-bought cookie you’ll ever buy.
Of course you can make these cookies even if you don’t have a maple leaf-shaped cookie cutter; for me, it just adds to the charm.
Québec Travel Tip! If you come to Québec and want to buy maple products, skip the souvenir shop and head to a local grocery store. Most carry maple syrup and maple butter year round, as well as maple leaf cookies too, of course (in the regular cookie aisle). They may not come in decorative containers or boxes, but you’ll get much more for your buck. The links below also lead to the online store of a Quebec maple producer that ships worldwide.
Homemade Maple Leaf Cookies
Makes about 50 cream-filled cookies
For the cookies
1 cup [250 ml] unsalted butter, or dairy free buttery shortening, softened to room temperature
1 cup [250 ml] granulated maple sugar
½ cup [125 ml] maple syrup
4 cups [1 L] pastry flour
½ tsp [2.5 ml] baking powder
Whole milk, or another dairy free milk of your choice
Granulated maple sugar
For the cream filling
1 cup [250 ml] maple butter
½ cup [125 ml] powdered sugar
1/3 cup [80 ml] unsalted butter, or dairy free buttery shortening, softened to room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C] and make sure the rack is positioned in the center. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper.
To make the cookies: In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat the butter or dairy free buttery shortening and granulated maple sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the maple syrup and beat until the mixture is creamy.
In another bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder together. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the maple mixture until the dough comes together. Using your hands, gather the dough into a ball and cut into 4 portions. Keep one portion out and wrap the remaining dough in plastic wrap.
On a generously floured surface, roll the maple dough to a 1/8-in [0.3-cm] thickness. Using a cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as possible, delicately transferring them to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet as you go. Since the dough is rolled out thin, it may help to use a small spatula to lift off and transfer the cookies. The cookies can be placed close to one another on the baking sheet because they won’t spread out while baking. If desired, use the dull side of a knife to trace shallow lines and a maple leaf pattern. Brush each cookie with milk and dust with coarse maple sugar. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden on the edges. Let cool completely on wire racks. Repeat the roll out and baking process to use the remaining cookie dough.
To make the cream filling: Put the maple butter and softened butter in a large mixing bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until the two are well incorporated. Add the powdered sugar and whisk on low speed until the sugar is mixed in, and turn up the speed. Whisk until the cream filling is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble the cookies (take it out of the fridge about 15 minutes before assembly so it spreads more easily).
To assemble the cookies: Spread a generous layer of cream filling on one cookie, then cover with a second cookie. Repeat to assemble all cookies. Eat any remaining cream filling by the spoonful.
The assembled cookies will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. They are at their crispiest in the first 24 hours. The filling then softens the cookies a bit, but they remain just as irresistible.
Recipe Credit: Adapted from RicardoCuisine.com.
More Decadent Cookie Inspiration:
- Whiskey, Pecan and White Chocolate Blondies
- Chocolate Fudge with Walnuts, Cranberries and Pretzels
- Pecan and Maple Thumbprint Cookies
- Marzipan Brownies