Soft and Chewy Brown Sugar Maple Cookies
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Brown Sugar Maple Cookies — Dense and not at all cakey, with the perfect balance of chewy edges and soft, tender, pillowy centers!
Easy Maple Cookie Recipe
I’ve been formulating these maple sugar cookies in my head for about a year. They’re one of the bucket list recipes I wanted to check off my list and although I’ve seen numerous recipes for brown sugar cookies, there’s always something nitpicky that I wanted to change.
Generally I don’t like nuts in desserts and many times the flavors of brown sugar and maple are accompanied by cashews, walnuts, or pecans so those recipes were out. Or sometimes the cookies don’t look thick enough, chewy enough, or seem too dry.
So I took matters into my own hands and created a nut-free, thick, chewy, soft, and ridiculously moist maple sugar cookie.
They’re everything I want in a cookie and a new favorite. I was going to make my favorite glaze of all time, Vanilla Caramel Glaze, because I thought it would just take them over the top.
But after tasting a cookie, I put the butter for the glaze back into the refrigerator because they don’t need it. And that’s saying something because everything is better with glaze, frosting, or chocolate chips. Except these don’t need any of the above and are perfect as is.
The brown sugars caramelize and there are hints of molasses along with with notes of vanilla. They’re full of rich maple flavor without being overpowering and by using maple extract, you can make them as faintly or prominently maple-flavored as desired.
They’re moist, buttery, and dense yet the cornstarch keeps them soft. The bread flour gives them chewiness and puffiness and I love sinking my teeth into them.
What’s in These Maple Cookies?
To make this easy maple dessert, you’ll need:
- Unsalted butter
- Light and dark brown sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Maple extract
- Bread flour
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
How to Make Maple Cookies
To make the maple cookies, begin by creaming the butter and sugars. Many recipes I’ve seen for brown sugar cookies use melted butter, but I never get the thick and puffy results I want with melted butter so I creamed it with the sugars. And there are only two kinds of sugars used here. Brown, and brown. No white sugar need apply.
Using a higher degree of brown sugar in any cookie recipe helps cookies stay softer and the cookies are as soft on day three as they are on day one since brown sugar absorbs moisture from the air. Not that you’ll have any problems with a yield of 13 cookies lingering.
After creaming together the butter, sugars, and egg, I added both vanilla and maple extracts. After incorporating the extracts, add the flours. I used both bread and all-purpose flour.
Next I added 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, which is one of the best food discoveries to come out of this year. Because cornstarch has a tenderizing effect on dough, cookies made with it are soft and tender yet dense enough to sink your teeth in. These cookies are pillowy soft in the interior with chewy edges are heartiness. Nothing cakey or airy about them.
After folding in the flour, scoop out cookie dough balls and place them on a large plate, cover it with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator. It’s easier to scoop the dough into balls when the dough is still warm before the chilling stint.
When forming the dough balls, weigh the dough so that each mound is approximately 2.25 ounces, or a scant 1/4 cup measure. If you don’t have a scale, dividing the dough into 13 pieces should do the trick since the yield for this batch is just 13 cookies.
I baked my cookies for 10 minutes and pulled them from the oven when the edges were set and the tops had barely begun to set, but were still a bit underdone because all cookies firm up as they cool.
The maple cookies did such a great job of staying thick while baking that I actually gave them two gentle taps with the back of a spoon after they came out of the oven to flatten them a bit, which helped create the crackled top. I love the visual effect of a crackle top and could get lost in those deep crevices and valleys.
Do I Have to Chill Cookie Dough?
Yes, before baking, the dough MUST be chilled for at least 2 hours. I cannot stress this enough. There is no way to achieve tall, thick, and puffy cookies using warm and limp dough. It just won’t work.
Do I Have to Use Bread Flour?
Bread flour has a higher gluten content, translating into cookies with greater chewiness. It also lends greater structure to the dough so cookies made with it bake up puffier and thicker.
Exclusively using all-purpose will work, but the cookies may spread more during baking, may not bake up as thick and puffy, and will lack some chewiness. I highly recommend keeping a $4.95 bag of King Arthur bread flour in your pantry because you can use it tons.
Is There a Brown Sugar Substitute I Can Use?
I predominantly used dark brown sugar in this maple sugar cookie recipe, which is richer and more full-bodied in flavor than light brown. Both types are granulated sugar with molasses added to it, but dark brown has twice the amount of molasses.
You can make light brown sugar by combining 1 cup of granulated sugar with 2 tablespoons molasses; and for dark brown sugar, increase the molasses to 4 tablespoons, or 1/4 cup. This renders dark brown sugar a wetter and damper sugar and it’s great for keeping cookies moist and for imparting an extra boost of flavor.
Do I Have to Use Maple Extract?
Yes! The maple extract lends the comforting qualities of maple syrup to the cookies without weighing it down the dough with extra liquid volume like maple syrup would. Plus, extract doesn’t add any stickiness or additional sweetness to the dough.
Tips for Making Maple Sugar Cookies
I used 1 1/2 teaspoons of maple extract to this recipe, which give the cookies ample maple flavor, but I recommend adding the extract slowly and to taste, since preferences vary as do intensities of various brands of extract.
Maple extract has about the same intensity as vanilla extract or butter extract and is no where near as potent as peppermint extract. I use the store brand and it’s located near the vanilla extract in the baking aisle.
I don’t recommend trying to make smaller cookies and increase the yield past about 15 cookies because part of what helps them stay chewy on the edges while remaining tender in the middle is the size and surface area. Although they’re thick and generous, they’re not jumbo or ridiculous.
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4+ teaspoon maple extract, added slowly in 1/2 teaspoon increments and to taste
- 1 cup bread flour (all-purpose flour may be substituted and used exclusively in place of bread flour)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on low speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the sugars and beat on medium-high speed until creamed and well-combined, about 3 minutes.
- Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the egg, vanilla extract, maple extract to taste (start with 3/4 teaspoon and add more to taste; I used nearly 1 1/2 teaspoons and cookies are prominently maple-flavored) and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flours (solely using all-purpose flour will work, but the cookies will not be as chewy or rise as well because bread flour creates chewier results and gives greater rise), cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.
- Using a 2-ounce cookie scoop, form heaping mounds weighing 2 1/4-ounces each (weighed on a scale, which is approximately a scant 1/4-cup measure); or divide dough into 13 to 15 pieces ( made 13 cookies).
- Place dough mounds on a large plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours; up to 5 days. Do not bake these cookies with dough that has not been properly chilled because they will spread and they won't stay thick and puffy.
- Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat, parchment, or spray with cooking spray. Place dough on the baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart; I bake 6 or 7 cookies per sheet.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just barely golden brown around the edges, even if slightly undercooked in the center, noting the tops will not be as browned and will be paler. The cookies in the photos were baked for 10 1/2 minutes, with one tray in the oven at a time, and rotated halfway through baking.
- Upon removing trays from oven, if cookies stayed very domed while baking (likely they will if dough was well-chilled) immediately give cookies a firm yet gentle tap or two with the back of a spoon to flatten them. This creates a crackled top appearance.
- Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for about 10 minutes before moving them to a rack to finish cooling.
To store: Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.
Recipe adapted from Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 141Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 193mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 14gProtein: 3g
More Easy Sugar Cookie Recipes:
Soft Peanut Butter Chip Sugar Cookies — Similar to Lofthouse Soft-Frosted Sugar Cookies, but these are for peanut butter fans! I added peanut butter and frosted them with peanut butter buttercream.
Funfetti Cookies — These funfetti cookies are essentially sugar cookies from scratch that have been loaded with sprinkles. They have that nostalgic boxed cake flavor but are 100% homemade!
Frosted Soft Sugar Cookies — Super SOFT sugar cookies that just melt in your mouth!! To make things even better, they’re topped with the BEST sugar cookie frosting!
Oatmeal Coconut Brown Sugar Cookies (Anzac Biscuits) — The flavors of the coconut, honey, and maple syrup, along with the butter and brown sugar that caramelize while baking, give the cookies layers of flavors and an abundance of textures that just won’t quit.
Sugar Cookie Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting — The bars are buttery soft in the middle with a bit of chewiness around the edges and have nice texture from the baked-in sprinkles.
Soft and Chewy Sugar-Doodle Vanilla Cookies – Part soft sugar cookie, part chewy snickerdoodle, with tons of rich vanilla flavor!
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