I was at church a few weeks ago, helping out in the nursery, when someone brought me a little plate of snacks. On the plate was a soft maple-y/pumpkin-y cookie that was quite delicious. It reminded me of cookies my friend Jenny had made once, many years ago when we lived in the same vicinity. She’d given me the recipe, which I’d lost over the years and many moves.
So I did what all good food detectives do. I found out who’d brought the tasty cookies – a friend named Jil – and emailed her asking for the recipe.
Imagine my disappointment when Jil replied and said she hadn’t actually made the cookies. She’d bought them at a bookstore in Red Deer. I don’t even know where Red Deer is. But it’s not in Calgary.
So I emailed Jenny, detailing the nature of my cookie emergency. Because, suddenly I couldn’t get those cookies out of my mind. She came through a few days later and emailed me the recipe. But it needed shortening and maple flavor. It would require a trip to the grocery store…and actually remembering to buy the items.
And then I saw Jil, who handed me a copy of a similar cookie recipe that a friend had passed on to her. (Along with an actual bookstore-bought-cookie she had saved in her freezer.) If it were me, I would have given away the recipe, not the cookie. Lucky for me, she’s a more generous person.
So on Monday, I made the cookies. I enlisted my oldest to help me in the kitchen, and things were going swimmingly; until he saw that the cookies contained pumpkin. Not sure if he was channeling his father’s aversion to gourds or what, but he threw a bit of a fit. Whining about how he didn’t like cookies with pumpkin in them. How he just liked regular cookies.
I mean, what kid would carp about soft cookies with frosting on them? Mine, apparently.
Undeterred, I baked the cookies anyway. Certain he’d come around and forget all about this regular cookie business. He tasted one fresh out of the oven and pronounced them good. And I let him and his brother frost a couple, which they thought was the funnest thing ever. Never mind the fact that they just licked the frosting off the cookies and left the carcasses spread all over the table and floor.
Truth be told, these cookies were….pretty good. They were not as good as the bookstore-bought ones, being too pumpkin-y, and too mushy. They did not satisfy my craving that had taken on a life of its own. And, more importantly, they had not satisfied the Gort’s craving for ‘regular cookies’.
‘Dad,’ he said privately to his father that night. ‘Do you think you can make us some regular cookies, because mom just makes cookies with pumpkin in them. And I don’t like pumpkin cookies. So, do you think you can make us some regular cookies?’
Well once Jason managed to stop laughing, he had no choice but to comply. And pulled out the Nestle Toulouse (as Phoebe from Friends would have said) and made some chocolate chip cookies late that night. The next morning at breakfast (because we’re insanely fun parents) Jason presented his oldest with a cookie. ‘Dad,’ he said, ‘are these just regular cookies…is there not any pumpkin in them?’
I mean, talk about belaboring a point. I get it – pumpkin cookies are the vilest things ever. And of course the professor couldn’t let any of this pass without putting in his ten cents. ‘Is it Thanksgiving and I didn’t know…what’s up with the pumpkin cookies?’
So I put some in the freezer, and delivered some to a friend. And set my sights on the next experiment: Jenny’s maple cookies. I procured some Crisco shortening which, for some reason grosses me out, and maple flavoring and got to work; enlisting my oldest’s assistance again. ‘Are these not pumpkin cookies?’ he questioned. Seriously, just let it drop. ‘No,’ I replied, ‘these are maple cookies.’ ‘What’s maple?’ he asked. ‘It’s like the syrup we put on our pancakes,’ I explained – genius that I am.
So we made the maple cookies. And we frosted the cookies. And I didn’t dare add the requisite cup of nuts, because the last thing I needed from him was a treatise on how he hates cookies….with nuts. Trust me, I’ve heard it before.
‘Jenny’s’ Maple Cookies with Brown Butter Frosting
(a Betty Crocker Cookie Recipe)
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp maple extract
2 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp bking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup nuts
Bake at 375 for 10 minutes, or until set.
1/2 cup butter, heated until golden brown
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp maple
2-4 Tbsp hot water
And these cookies were delicious, with just the right texture and tasty frosting. Though they were missing some of the pumpkin spice taste of those pesky bookstore-bought-cookies. Clearly, the ultimate recipe would be a combination of the two. But I’ll save that project for a day when the men are gone.
Until then, I’ll just drive to Red Deer with my perfect in-utero child who doesn’t complain about anything. And loves pumpkin.
PS. If you use 3/4 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup canned pumpkin, along with 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, you get a cookie with a nicer flavor…that can still be passed off as a maple cookie. Plus you’re cutting out an enormous amount of fat by omitting that extra 1/4 cup of sour cream.