Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Maple cookies and a speedy shrimp dish...

Jeff went through some of the holiday baking magazines that we've picked up over the last couple of weeks and went a little crazy with post-it notes to let me know what he thinks we should make. So, for this week's Wednesday Treat Day, I randomly picked one of those notes and opened the magazine to find these Maple Walnut Thumbprint Cookies.

The dough for these is a basic vanilla-laced shortbread that is rolled into balls, rather than pressed into a pan or refrigerated to be made into slice-and-bake cookies. I found the dough to be a dream to work with - neither sticky nor dry - just moist enough to form a smooth ball. Once I portioned out the batch and gently shaped each buttery piece in my palms, they went for a dip in egg whites and a roll through a river of finely chopped walnuts.

You can use whatever tool you like to make the indent in the center of the cookies, be it the back of a teaspoon or the end of a wooden spoon - however, I found it quickest to just go down the rows with my thumb. You don't want these to take on a lot of color in the oven - just lightly golden around the edges... this is enough time to set the cookie and gently toast the nuts. To fill up those divots in the center, a maple-flavored frosting combined of confectioners' sugar, butter, a pinch of salt (not too much, just a little to balance the sweetness), milk to thin and maple extract for that full flavor. The extract is an excellent use in these situations as you wouldn't be able to use enough maple syrup to get that depth of flavor without making the frosting too runny (or sweet!).

The texture of these two-bite cookies is tender from all that creamy butter, but not greasy at all - the walnuts that encase the outside added an alluring crunch while also bringing a delightful nuttiness. The once-pale frosting, now stained a light beige from the extract, was fairly sweet, but not cloying so as there was just enough added to fill in the centers. I'll have to see after they sit a bit longer to find out how stiff the frosting sets up - if it gets somewhat firm, it looks like the cookies should ship well, making them fun treats to add to the holiday baking spree! I'm thinking you could easily freeze the baked cookies, unfilled, a month or so ahead of time and then drop in that maple frosting before sending them out. If the frosting stays soft, I think they would be great as a fall-flavored bake sale item!

Jeff walked through the kitchen just before I was ready to start plating dinner and said "Wow... something sure is sizzlin' over in that skillet on the stove!". Ironic, I guess, because the name of the recipe I made for dinner tonight just so happened to be Sizzling Shrimp with Corn Relish!

Mild shallots, minced garlic and a small jalapeƱo are slid into a slick of simmering hot oil - just a few seconds later, a load of shrimp are added and tossed around until they just begin to pink up. Three ears worth of corn are then added to heat through - once warmed and sizzling, the dish is brightened up by a mixture of fresh lime juice, salty fish sauce and a tiny dash of granulated sugar. Now, by accident, I left the fish sauce out on the island as I was finishing up... Jeff came by and didn't recognize it, took off the cap and gave a big sniff. Oops! He was not happy and thought I was going to ruin dinner, but I assured him it doesn't taste like it smells. "See! Better off if you just don't know." I said to him!

Seeing as this was going to be our dinner tonight, I had a pot of fragrant brown jasmine rice on the stove cookin' away (using the no-fuss method) to serve this over and bulk it up a bit. With a smattering of chopped fresh cilantro on top, you probably won't need more than 15 or 20 minutes before this clean and refreshing dish could be ready... talk about speedy! Well, that is, if you don't count the time needed to cook up the brown rice we had! If you wanted something a bit lighter, just spoon this over a bed of tender baby spinach (sounds like a good lunch to me!).


  1. I love the cute flower pot cookies! At first thought they were cupcakes!

  2. MMM! I bet your maple cookies are delicious. They sure look pretty.

  3. I did not know you could get brown jasmine rice!


  4. These are Sooooo cute! Nicely done!

  5. These look fabulous! I love traditional thumbprints anyways, but maple just sends it over the top. I will definitely be making these soon! Thanks for posting!

  6. Love the shrimp dish, Joe. I'd heard about the "no fuss" method but had not tried it. Sounds so much easier and fool proof.

  7. CC - hee hee! Cupcakes may be coming!

    Tami - Thanks!

    Quinn - you certainly can! Brown basmati and short grain (like arborio) are available as well!

    Lisa - Thank you!

    Stephanie - Yes, that maple frosting really made these shine!

    Janice - You must give it a try!

  8. Joe, I just saw the Land o' Lakes magazine yesterday and while I decided against buying it, I was going to post a thread at the CLBB asking if anyone could post the maple cookie recipe for me! I just love maple cookies and am very excited to try these! So, thank you!

  9. KAnn - Let me know if you give the cookies a try!