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Maple Cinnamon Christmas Cookies

Maple Cinnamon Christmas Cookies

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you're all enjoying some quality time with loved ones. For those back home in New Zealand, it's already Christmas Day & here in New York City, it's Christmas Eve. This year in New Zealand, my family will all be gathering at my cousin's farm. She has two children, and I'm going to miss not seeing their faces light up when they open gifts.  And of course, it goes without saying I will really miss the delicious feast, which usually involves a roast lamb with all the trimmings, and my favourite pavlova for dessert. For those not familiar with pavlova, it's a meringue cake that has a hard shell and is soft and fluffy on the inside. It's then topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. Since it's Summer there, strawberries are a popular topping. 

Being an only child, it does feel strange for me to be apart from my Mum at this time of year. If only New Zealand wasn't so far away! I really miss her a lot. This year, I will be spending Christmas with my boyfriend and some of our friends at our apartment. We're going to have a Christmas brunch, which I'm quite excited about. I love brunch!

I made these Maple Cinnamon Christmas Cookies to give as gifts to my boss and co-workers.  I put them in cute little Christmas treat bags, and they were a hit. The maple flavor is so delicious, and I really love how these cookies stay slightly soft and chewy. Make sure to use maple extract though, and not maple syrup. To get the same amount of flavour from 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of extract, you would need several tablespoons of maple syrup. This would completely alter the amount of liquid in the dough, which is not what we want! I like to use natural flavouring whenever possible, so I was really happy to find an extract with real maple flavouring from Green Mountain Flavors.

Make sure to chill the cookie dough, as this ensures the cookies will hold their shape. I found that I needed to chill it again after cutting my first lot of shapes out, as it gets soft rather quickly. 

The smell these cookies omit while baking is pure heaven. I couldn't wait until they were cold before trying one (who really does anyway?!), and had to stop myself from eating a fourth one. Oops. Enjoy! 

Ingredients:

2 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons maple extract (I used the natural maple flavor from Green Mountain Flavors)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Variety of sprinkles
Cookie icing to decorate

Method:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy and smooth (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. 
  3. Add the egg, maple extract, vanilla extract and beat on high until fully combined, about 2 minutes. 
  4. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the flour mixture and beat until just barely combined. Add the rest of the flour until just combined. If dough is too soft, add more flour a tablespoon at a time until it's a better consistency for rolling. 
  5. Divide dough into two equal parts. Using a piece of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Place one piece on a parchment paper lined baking tray, cover with a second piece of parchment paper, and place the second piece of dough on top. Refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 2 days. (if up to 2 days, cover the top piece with parchment paper also). Chilling is an absolute must! 
  6. Once chilling is complete, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176 degrees celsius). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Remove one of the pieces of dough from the fridge and use the cookie cutters of your choice to cut out shapes. Place them on the baking sheet. Re-roll the dough and cut shapes out and repeat until all the dough is used. 
  7. Top with sprinkles before baking, and gently press them into the dough with the back of a spoon. Bake for 10-11 minutes , until lightly browned around the edges. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through baking time. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  8. Decorate the cookies with cookie icing and allow to dry for 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. The cookies (without icing) can also be frozen for up to 3 months. The cookie dough can also be frozen for up to 3 months before rolling. 

*Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction.

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