Maple Spice Stars

Maple Spice StarsY’all…are these Maple Spice Stars beautiful or what?! I love all the colors, textures, and dimensions of the finished cookies, not to mention the flavors. With their sweet, spicy crunch and maple glaze, these little stars are as delicious as they are dazzling.

Maple Spice StarsThis dough is a maple spin on my classic gingerbread recipe. The biggest changes I made are that I intensified the ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg flavors, cut the white granulated sugar and, of course, that I swapped the traditional molasses for 2/3 cup of pure maple syrup 🍁🍁🍁 These changes produce a cookie with a “cleaner” spice flavor; unlike molasses, the maple syrup accentuates the spices instead of competing with them.

Maple Spice StarsOnce the maple spice dough is made, divide it into quarters and give it a chill. This helps with spreading, allows the flavors to meld, and keeps the dough from being too sticky to roll. That last part is super important. We want this dough to roll and cut like a dream!

Maple Spice StarsRoll the dough out until it’s 1/4-inch thick and cut the stars. Depending on the size of your cookie cutter, this could be a startling number of cookies–I ended up with eleven dozen 3-inch stars (that’s 132 cookies 😮). It’s a lot, but that means this recipe is perfect for cookie trays and food gifting. I highly recommend pairing a couple dozen of these sparkly stars with a box of tea; I like Tazo Wild Sweet Orange and Yogi Egyptian Licorice.

But back to the cookie dough…

Maple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsBake the stars for 8 minutes, until they are starting to turn golden at the edges. They’ll crisp up as they cool.

Maple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsNext up, whisk together a simple maple glaze and give each cookie a quick dip. Lay them on cooling racks set over wax paper to contain any excess–you just want a thin layer.

Maple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsAs a final touch, top the glaze with a mixture of minced candies ginger and coarse sugar. This gives the finished cookies an extra hit of ginger flavor, not to mention how beautiful it makes them look. I love how these stars sparkle ✨✨✨

Maple Spice StarsMaple Spice Stars are some of my favorite holiday cookies ever to appear on this blog, and I have made a lot (*A LOT*) of holiday cookies over the last couple of years. They’re simple, elegant, and they give a nod to a classic without being totally traditional.

Maple Spice StarsOh, and they’re stupidly delicious. And when it comes to cookies, that’s what really counts, isn’t it?!

Maple Spice StarsLooking for more cut-out cookies? Try my Iced Sugar Cookies {Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies & Quick-Dry Royal Icing}, Gingerbread Men with Chocolate Buttons, Peppermint Mocha Cookies, and Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookies.

Maple Spice Stars
makes about 11 dozen 3-inch cookies

Cookies:
4 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup pure maple syrup (I like Grade A dark amber/robust taste)
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Garnish:
2/3 cup minced crystallized candied ginger
3 tablespoons coarse sugar (I like turbinado)

Glaze:
3 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
4-5 tablespoons water

Make the cookies. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in brown sugar, followed by the maple syrup. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Turn the mixer to low, and add the dry ingredients in three installments, stopping frequently to scrape the bowl.

Divide dough into quarters. Wrap each quarter in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Place oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Flour a surface and a rolling pin.

Remove one disc of dough from the refrigerator. Unwrap it, and roll it out on the floured surface. Dough may crack on the initial roll, but should become more pliable. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Dip the edge of a 3-inch cookie cutter in flour, then use it to cut out cookies. Re-roll scraps to get more cookies.

Bake cookies for 5 minutes. Rotate the pans top-to-bottom and back-to-front. Bake for another 3-4 minutes, until they are no longer wet-looking. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling and baking with remaining dough, making sure to let the baking sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Make the garnish. In a small bowl, toss together minced crystallized candied ginger and coarse sugar. Set aside.

Make the glaze. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar, salt, maple syrup, and 4 tablespoons of water until smooth. Add more water by the teaspoon, until the glaze is a drizzling consistency.

On a surface (or a few baking sheets), set cooling racks over sheets of wax paper. Dip each cookie in the glaze until it’s 1/3-1/2 dipped. Let any excess drip off and set cookie on a rack. Top with candied ginger garnish. Repeat with all remaining cookies. Allow to set at room temperature for at least two hours or until dry to the touch.

Cookies will keep very well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Maple Spice Stars

Maple Pear Tart

Maple Pear TartHalloween is over and Thanksgiving is coming up. You know what that means…

Pie Season!!! 🍁 🍃 🍂🍁 🍃🍂🍁🍃🍂🍁🍃🍂🍁🍃🍂

Maple Pear TartIn the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I’ll be sharing a few new pie recipes, along with some other desserts, appetizers, and a Turkey Day side dish or two 😍😍😍

Maple Pear TartMaple Pear TartToday’s recipe isn’t exactly a pie–it’s a tart. A Maple Pear Tart. Like maple-glazed pears baked on the crispiest, butteriest crust that’s ever come out of my kitchen. This tart looks very fancy, but it is super easy to make. It’s literally easier than pie.

Maple Pear TartLet’s talk about the crust. It’s a simplified, homemade version of puff pastry, often called “Rough Puff.” I’ve used it for cheater croissants and for a few other things for which most people use frozen pastry, and I am consistently amazed that something I made in my kitchen could be so deeply buttery and flaky. Oh y’all, this is goooood.

Maple Pear TartIf the idea of making your own puff pastry–even the easy version–puts fear in your heart, you may use the frozen all-butter stuff. But really, there is nothing to fear. This tart is easier than pie, and this pastry dough is easier than pie dough.

Just cut European-style butter into some flour and little salt…

Maple Pear Tartadd some cold milk…

Maple Pear Tartfold it all into a dough…

Maple Pear Tartpat it into a rectangle…

Maple Pear Tartand give it a few rolls and folds.

Maple Pear TartMaple Pear TartMaple Pear TartMaple Pear TartWrap your rough puff pastry in plastic and throw it in the fridge for an hour (or up to two days). When you’re ready to make your tart, peel two pears and slice them as thinly as you can. You might want to break out your mandolin. If you don’t have one of those handy gadgets (I don’t), you can use a chef’s knife. Just slice the pears as. thin. as. possible.

Maple Pear TartMaple Pear TartMaple Pear TartGrab that cold pastry from the fridge, unfold it, and roll it into a 10×14″ rectangle. Fold the edges over and crimp ‘em, then dock the center with a fork. It doesn’t have to be beautiful–mine certainly wasn’t.

Maple Pear TartSeriously, it doesn’t matter at all. Sliced pears, a bit of sugar and butter cover all manner of ugly crimping.

Maple Pear TartBake it up! Some big bubbles may form despite the docked crust–just pop ‘em with a knife. It’s way fun.

Maple Pear TartPaint the pears with a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup.

Maple Pear TartMaple Pear TartYUM.

Maple Pear TartSlice the tart into eight pieces and serve it to people you love.

Maple Pear TartIsn’t that beautiful?! Those pears and that golden pastry are as visually stunning as they are delicious.

Maple Pear TartOh, I just love Pie Season.Maple Pear Tart

Maple Pear Tart
makes one tart

Rough Puff Pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

For the tart:
2 large baking pears (I used a Bosc and a Bartlett)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

For serving:
whipped cream (optional)

Make the pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the tart. Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed quarter-sheet pan or jelly roll pan with parchment.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 10×14-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to the prepared pan. Fold edges over about 1 inch and crimp with a fork. Dock center of the dough with a fork. Refrigerate while you prepare the pears.

Peel pears and slice in half lengthwise. Remove stems and seeds. Using a knife or mandolin, slice pears as thinly as possible, about 1/8-1/16 of an inch. Arrange pear slices decoratively over the crust. Scatter sugar over the top and dot with butter. Bake 28-30 minutes, until edges are puffed and golden brown. Large bubbles may form during baking. Just pop them with a fork or sharp knife.

Let tart cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use parchment to remove tart to a cutting board. Remove parchment. Slice into pieces. Serve immediately with whipped cream, if desired.

Tart is best eaten the day it’s made. Pastry will soften after several hours.

Maple Pear Tart

Maple Pecan Pie {One Year Anniversary!}

Maple Pecan PieTomorrow’s a big day–this little blog is turning one year old! That’s 140 posts, 136 recipes, and more flour and sugar than I care to think about. It’s also late nights, hours of recipe testing, and a lot of joy. I have a job and a side business, but this blog is what matters most to me. It’s probably the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken, and I can’t wait to see how it grows in year two.

It’s comments, encouragement, and support from all of you that keep me in the kitchen creating new things. Thank you for reading and making my recipes in your kitchens. Thank you for sharing this little blog with your friends and family. It’s a real blessing to have so many people following my little passion project.Maple Pecan Pie

So, how does one celebrate their blog’s anniversary? Well, they furiously text their little sister and two close friends saying “What should I make for the blog’s one year anniversary?” One recommended a throwback to my first post. One recommended something from my childhood. And one goes to Harvard and doesn’t have time for my petty nonsense (love you, Smel).Maple Pecan Pie

With their suggestions in mind, I started thinking about pecans and about my grandmother, Nonnie. She lived in a tiny little house near Benbrook, Texas, and she made the very best biscuits and chocolate cake in the world (according to my family, at least). She made my dad breakfast literally every Sunday morning until she was no longer able to cook. My mom, little sister, and I would go to church while my dad ate fried eggs with sausage and biscuits, following it up with a twenty minute power nap in her red chair. Every fall, Nonnie and my dad would go into her backyard and rack her huge pecan tree. He’d bring home gallon-size zip-top bags full of Texas pecans and show Eliot and I how to properly break the shells and eat the meats, just like his mom showed him, just like we’ll do with our (figurative) children someday.

I don’t remember Nonnie ever making pecan pie from her tree in the backyard–I figure that cracking the shells was too much for her arthritic hands. But I also don’t remember a holiday without pecan pie. It’s always been a part of my family’s story.Maple Pecan Pie

So, today, let’s celebrate one year of blogging with Maple Pecan Pie, the perfect tribute to my family, my Texan childhood, and my northeastern adulthood. This pie has everything you love about traditional pecan pie, but with a hefty dose of maple syrup and my go-to Cream Cheese Pie Crust. The filling is sweet, but not cloying, thanks to a little apple cider vinegar, and it has a little depth from the addition of nutmeg. If you’re going to mess with something as iconic as pecan pie, this is the way to do it.

And if you’re going to acknowledge one year of baking and blogging, Maple Pecan Pie is the perfect way to celebrate.Maple Pecan Pie

Maple Pecan Pie
makes one 9-inch standard pie

1/2 recipe Cream Cheese Pie Dough
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 cups pecan halves, roughly chopped
whipped cream, for serving (optional)

On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll pie dough to a 12-inch diameter. Fit in pie plate. Cut excess to 1/2-inch, and crimp as desired. Chill pie crust.

Place the oven rack in the bottom-third position. Preheat oven to 350F.

Make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together maple syrup and dark brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time, whisking until combined. Stir in apple cider vinegar, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk constantly as you drizzle in the melted butter.

Remove pie plate from the refrigerator and place it on top of a rimmed baking sheet (for catching overflow, although you shouldn’t have any). Place chopped pecans in the bottom of the pie crust. Pour filling over the top. Bake pie 40-50 minutes, tenting with foil at the 20 minute mark.

Let pie cool completely on a rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with whipped cream, if desired.

Maple Pecan Pie