As I biked home tonight on the last day of November through high winds and snow flurries, it suddenly seemed appropriate to start thinking about holiday cookie baking. These maple syrup butter cookies are the perfect treat as the temperature dips. It's always a bit sad to notice the last of the leaves have fallen from the trees, but I look forward to winter for clear skies, gorgeous sunsets, clementines, and time with family and friends.
For the first time in years, I had a full week of vacation for Thanksgiving. I spent a few days in Chicago seeing off friends who are moving away, I joined my mother and my brother for a tour of our family's old neighborhood on the southside, and I spent some quality time in Logan Square.
Our Thanksgiving was small and cozy. Nick made his Chile Glazed Sweet Potatoes and I made my Molasses Pumpkin Pie with fresh pumpkin puree from our neighbor. After the holiday, my parents and I traveled a few hours south to Starved Rock State Park where we hiked through the canyons, watched hawks over the Illinois River, and read by the fireplace in the old lodge. It was a great way to relax before returning to finals, presentations, and research papers as I finish my first semester of library school.
1 C unsalted butter, softened
1 C sugar
1/2 C Grade B maple syrup
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp salt
3 C all-purpose flour
2 C powdered sugar
1 Tbl butter, softened
4 Tbl Grade B maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbl milk (or a dash more, if necessary)
In a medium bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add maple syrup and egg yolk, stirring well. Sift flour and salt over batter and combine thoroughly. Roll dough into a log one-foot long and wrap dough in plastic wrap. Chill until firm, at least two hours (can be made ahead).
Preheat oven to 350F
Cut dough into 1/8 inch pieces and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake cookies until the edges are golden, about 12 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool. Cookies will keep in an airtight container for one week.
For the icing, sift powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Mix in butter until smooth. Stir in maple syrup and vanilla. Add milk a bit at a time until the icing is the desired consistency. Spread a bit of icing on to each cookie and allow to set.