Monthly Archives: March 2012

Maine Maple Sunday 2012

Sunday was Maple Sunday in Maine. This event is held on the fourth Sunday of March every year. Many sugarhouses across the state are open for visitors.

We stopped by Balsam Ridge Christmas Tree Farm, which is only a few miles from out Maine cottage, in Raymond. In the winter, they have Christmas trees. In the spring, they make maple syrup from their sugarbush. It’s a small operation, but it’s very high tech. We watched a demonstration of the evaporator but they stopped collecting sap last week, so it was just pretend. The owner explained about the various steps and technology he uses.

The Sugarhouse at Balsam Ridge

With the climate change we’ve been experiencing, the sap runs earlier, and before the trees bud (which happens earlier and earlier), the taps get turned off. The introduction of technology helps maple syrup producers get the most out of their maples. From the vacuum system which allows more sap to be collected than gravity alone allows, to the reverse osmosis to reduce the water content of the sap before it gets boiled, to the evaporator that boils the syrup until the density is correct.

We enjoyed the samples of maple cotton candy, maple cream, maple butter, and, best of all, maple syrup over vanilla ice cream. We brought home a half gallon of maple syrup and couple pieces of maple fudge.

I like maple flavor, however, I don’t actually like syrup on my pancakes (I’m a jam girl). Howard does, but I do need to come up with some new ideas for using our treasure trove of maple syrup.

The Bella Seal of Approval

french fridays with dorie: cocoa sablés

One of my favorite cookies is Dorie Greenspan’s World Peace Cookies from her Baking cookbook.

When I saw Cocoa Sablés on this week’s French Fridays schedule, I assumed that we were making World Peace cookies. I’ve made them many times before and adore them. The AMFT version weren’t exactly a renamed version of the old favorite. They were more like a fraternal twin, and they did not disappoint.

I absolutely love the convenience of homemade slice-and-bake cookies. Stash them in the freezer, and you can have an instant snack on a whim.

This shortbread-like cookie comes together in the stand mixer easily. I accidentally rolled my logs much skinnier than Dorie did. They were a little over an inch, instead of a little under two inches. Honestly, this wasn’t deliberate. The type in the book is small, and even though it said 1¾ inch, I read 1¼. These cookies are rich, so my little coins (they were about the size of quarters) were the perfect size.

My book group came over this week, so I made these cookies as refreshments. The book we read, The Known World by Edward P. Jones, won the 2004 winner of the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. This beautifully-written novel about a black family of slave owners in antebellum Virginia told a wonderful, if disturbing, story. As always, we had a lively discussion, some of it related to the book, most of it not. The cookies got positive reviews. So did this lemony artichoke dip.

My yield was nothing like Dorie’s. She said the recipe would make 36 cookies. Granted, my rolls were skinnier. I shaped my dough into more than two rolls, not just because they were thinner, but because I find shorter rolls easier to handle. I baked about half the dough and got over 60 cookies. I plan to put the other rolls in the freezer for later.

I was short on time, so I didn’t coat the logs with egg and roll in sugar as suggested. I’ll have to try that variation when I bake the rolls from the freezer. I can imagine the effect will be pretty.

One thing that always trips me up when I make rolls of icebox cookies is how to store them while chilling or handle them while slicing so that one side doesn’t become flat. Hopefully, I’ll learn a new trick from one of the other participating bloggers’ posts. If you have some thoughts, please share!

To read about the other FFwD bloggers chocolatey experiences, check out their posts at French Fridays with Dorie. We don’t post the recipes, but you should treat yourself to this book. There are so many winning recipes, it’s worth it.