Maple Mania I: Marvelous Maple-Flax Cookies

[Welcome to the new home of Diet, Dessert and Dogs!  I'm still tweaking the format and layout of the blog, so please bear with me while I update some links, combine some page tabs, etc.  It should all be up and running smoothly within the next week or so!]

mapleflaxcookies

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Coombs Family Farms, an organic farm in Vermont that specializes in “all things maple,” to see if I’d like to sample some of their syrup.  Since maple syrup is a well-loved staple in my kitchen and many of my baked goods feature it as a key sweetener,  I was delighted to accept their offer and eagerly awaited the package.

A few days later, I received this:

coombssyrup

A bottle of their certified organic syrup, along with a maple-leaf shaped piece of maple candy!

Anyone who’s ever consumed real maple syrup can attest to its unique flavor–sweet, slightly smoky, with an appealing, earthy aroma.  Made from the sap of maple trees, it’s naturally rich in minerals (per volume, higher in calcium than dairy milk!). The syrup is available for purchase in three grades of A (light, medium and dark) and one of  B–each darker and more intensely flavored than the last. I was sent a bottle of grade B, an intense, soulful auburn that was so thick and deep it was nearly opaque.  As soon as I removed the cap, the maple perfume escaped to envelop the room with that distinctive scent.

Now, I’ve enjoyed maple syrup for many years.  Like pretty much everyone raised in Quebec–the heart of Canada’s maple country–I consider myself a maple aficionado, if not an expert.  Maple syrup is ubiquitous in La Belle Province: you can find it on every checkered tablecloth in every greasy-spoon breakfast diner, cheerily lining the shelves in corner grocery stores, awaiting the call in every kitchen cupboard.  When I was in grade school, each spring our class would make an annual trek up north for “sugaring off” parties, where freshly tapped, warmed maple syrup was poured over vast expanses of pristine snow to create a kind of maple taffy that we kids scrambled to scoop up with plastic spoons.  I might even classify myself as a bit of a maple syrup snob, in fact, one who’d never even consider trying the artificially flavored stuff from that iconic slender-waisted bottle.

Still, despite my fine maple sensibilities, I’ve never really thought it essential to buy organic maple syrup.  For one thing, the price is usually, shall we say, immoderate.  In addition, I’ve always recalled a conversation I had with a student once in a sociology of food course I was teaching.  She mentioned that her family owned a local maple tree farm.  There was really no difference between organic and non-organic syrup, she explained, since most maple trees aren’t sprayed with pesticides anyway (unless infected by some vermin or another). I filed away that bit of information and continued to purchase my regular (non-organic) variety.

Well, let me tell you, that student got it wrong (luckily, she wasn’t writing a test at the time). Now that I’ve tasted the Coomb’s organic version, I’m not sure I can go back to my generic brand.  Their syrup is outstanding, with a rich, deep amber color and more intense maple flavor than I’ve ever tasted.  It’s perfectly sweet and subtly smoky, with a heightened maple essence that lingers gently on the palate, enduring like an unexpected compliment.

Seriously, I may not be able to tolerate my old brand any more.  To heck with the price–I’ll just have to be more judicious in my use of it, I reckon.  Or else use a bit less and savor every drop more.  Or simply ignore the cost entirely (I suspect that a pawn shop may come into play at some point).  Seriously, it’s that good.

My first taste of the syrup was straight, poured onto the Lemony Almond Pancakes I wrote about a few days ago (I wanted to sample the delicacy in its pure, unadulterated state before combining it with other ingredients).  The flavors melded beautifully, the maple’s presence strong enough to match the zesty lemon while counterbalancing the slight sourness of it.  The HH practically asked to drink the stuff straight out of the bottle (but I wouldn’t let him, of course, as I was saving it for my subsequent kitchen experiments). He did manage to polish off the maple candy in one sitting, however–I got barely a nibble!

With such a winning flavor, I opted to design a cookie that would really showcase the unique taste that is “maple.”  I concocted these Maple Flax cookies (sorry, the two of you who are also on the ACD; these are NOT ACD-friendly–I created this recipe a couple of weeks ago).  They are naturally gluten free (and even flour-free, in fact).  In this case, the light, chewy texture was a natural outgrowth of my desire to minimize other ingredients  in order to allow the natural maple to shine through.  And you will most definitely taste it, with every chewy, sticky, sweet and maple-y bite.

Thanks again to everyone at Coombs Family Farms for allowing me to sample this extraordinary product.  Now my only lament is that I can’t find any more of it here in Toronto!

They’re not quite Irish, but since they contain oats, I can claim a Celtic connection, anyway. . . Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!

P.S.  It’s time for another Sweet Freedom giveaway. . . stay tuned for details next post! :)

mapleflaxcookieinside

I’m sharing this recipe at Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

Last Year at This Time:  Katie’s Creamy Aspara-Dip

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

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Comments

  1. Nice new website!!!

  2. Yum. These sound delicious! I love maple syrup but have never really baked with it.

  3. I just made these cookies yesterday, and they are actually really good! I can;t believe how healthy they are.

  4. I made these and I am very sad to say they came out all flat and burned because they spread way too much, but I think it was my fault since my coconut oil was not as firm as it could have been. I plan on trying again soon:)

  5. i just baked these and they are delicious! i didn’t have coconut oil, so used olive oil and they were fabulous. thank you for the recipe!

  6. How funny! I just stumbled on this by searching flax cookies (people keep finding my blog with this search so I was testing it) and by clicking on it I realized that I saw this recipe a while back and it looks delicious, I really need to make these. Also, quite a coincidence since I’m doing the Coombs review tomorrow and posted pumpkin maple cookies earlier today (too bad the pumpkin overpowers the maple) – but your review is SPOT ON! That stuff is awesome and seriously better than any maple syrup I’ve ever tasted also.

  7. Ricki, I made these with agave nectar and they are quite simply the most delicious ‘healthy’cookie I’ve tasted. I can’t wait to make another batch!

  8. One word… AWESOME!

  9. I made these with cold butter instead of coconut oil and while they tasted great, they were very flat. Maybe next time I’ll add some more oats.

    • Jodi, I think they’re pretty flat with the coconut oil, too–not as high, say, as chocolate chip cookies. I don’t know how butter would have worked out, though.

  10. I just made these with an extra 1/2 cup of oats (not ground) and they are INSANELY good. Super chewy, perfectly sweetened, very oaty and flaxy. I probably added about 1 or 2 tsp of maple syrup too. You should make them too!

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