I’m working with international students this summer in Montreal, and made a batch of “Canadian” cookies for a farewell ceremony. Though I’m not crazy for sugar cookies, I do looove decorating them, so I’ll gladly jump on any opportunity that comes along. I used maple syrup in place for agave in these for that extra-Canadian kick.
I drew out an outline of a loon shape and piped a whole bunch of birds onto sheets of waxed paper the day before baking. I always make LOTS of extras since they are quite prone to breakage. Especially with small protruding bits like the beaks and tails on these.
I flipped through a whole bunch of sugar cookie recipes to frankenstein one I liked and went on a late-night baking spree. Without air conditioning in the apartment, I like to avoid turning on the oven during the day. With the loons dry and ready to go, the rest of the decorating was a breeze: I just flooded the cookies with a 10-second icing (#3 tip), and drew the maple leaf outline with a #1 tip wet-on-wet, then placed the loon right on top. (Click here to read about royal icing consistencies.) Once everything was dried, I personalized the cookies with all the students’ names.
I always find making these types of cookies to be a simple, almost therapeutic way to kill some time. No part of the process is particularly difficult, it just takes time and patience and it definitely pays off in the end to see a group of happy folks with tasty treats in hand.
I really liked this recipe since it doesn’t need too long in the fridge and I had absolutely no sticking issues when rolling it out and transferring the cut out pieces. I used a mason jar lid as a make-shift cookie cutter and got about 35 cookies from one batch.
1 cup (225 g) butter, softened at room temp
1 1/2 cup (300 g) sugar
2 eggs, room temp
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cup (437 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
With a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to cream the butter and sugar on medium-high until fluffy. This should only take a couple minutes, scrape periodically. If you have a hand mixer, that will work also. Add eggs individually and mix thoroughly after each addition. Add maple syrup and vanilla and mix to combine.
Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Add to bowl and mix on low until dough just pulls away from the sides. If using a hand mixer, only use to incorporate the dry ingredients, and continue mixing by hand. Do not overmix.
Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. You could easily make the dough one night and bake the next day (just make sure it is really sealed in that plastic so it does not dry out).
Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll out dough on floured parchment to about 1/4″ – 1/5″ thick. Cut out cookies and place on lined baking sheets, leaving about an inch between them. Bake for 9-12 minutes or until edges are a light golden brown. Rotate the pans halfway through baking. I like to check the bottoms to make sure there is a bit of colour on there (for a slightly crisp bite). Cool completely on rack before decorating.
NOTES: I used two pans when baking these and alternated between the two to let the pan cool down a little so the next batch doesn’t go straight onto a hot pan. I will also add a little more maple next time to get a stronger flavour, although I will have to test it out to see how it affects the texture of the cookie.