Learn how to make maple cream cookies, also called maple leaf cookies because of their shape. These maple shortbread cookies are sandwiched with a maple butter filling. This easy maple cookie recipe is for fans of maple!
Maple leaf cookies are THE cookie that Quebec children eat growing up. The company Dare is known for their maple sandwich cookies, sold at grocery stores in Quebec and parts of Canada. The cookies are shaped like maple leaves and sandwiched together with a sweet maple cream filling. You could say that maple leaf cookies are kind of like the Canadian maple-flavoured cousin of the famous chocolate sandwich cookie known as the Oreo®.
What you will need to make this recipe
To make these, there are two components: shortbread cookies and a maple filling. Like most shortbread cookie recipes, you don't need many ingredients to make these maple shortbread cookies, nor the maple butter filling:
- butter is needed to make the cookie dough and the maple cream filling; use unsalted butter, though salted butter could work, but then skip the salt
- maple sugar adds sweetness and maple flavour to the cookies and the filling
- egg yolk helps bind the ingredients of the dough together, making it easier to roll, but you can replace it with 30 mL (2 tablespoons of whole milk)
- all-purpose flour gives these cookies structure so that they hold their shape and don't spread as they bake
- salt, preferably Diamond Crystal kosher salt is necessary to balance out the sweet maple filling—if using table salt, you may want to halve the salt to avoid these cookies being too salty
- maple butter, also called maple cream, either homemade or store-bought adds a ton of maple flavour to the filling. Remember maple butter is 100 % pure maple syrup, and you should not to confuse it with maple-flavoured butter that is a compound butter flavoured with maple sugar, maple syrup or even maple extract.
Chilling the maple shortbread cookie dough
If you make these cookies in the winter months, when it's not so warm, you should be able to roll out the dough and cut out the cookies, without trouble. Once cut out, you should chill the cutout cookies on a parchment-lined sheet pan in order to prevent the cookies from spreading when they bake. The key to sandwich cookies is that the dough has to hold the shape as they bake so that the cookies line up nicely when you sandwich two together with a filling.
Alternatively, if your kitchen is warm, you may want to chill the dough for 30 minutes to an hour so that the butter in it is firm. Then you may have to chill the cut out cookies again before baking to ensure they hold their shape.
Chilling the cut cookies before baking also makes it easier to cleanly score the cookies. Adding the leaf vein patterns that make the cookies look like real maple leaves is optional.
Making a maple cream cookie filling
The maple filling is just like a simple maple-flavoured American buttercream or frosting. Many recipes for maple leaf cookies rely on powdered sugar (also called icing sugar) to achieve a thick consistency. But this can lead to a cloyingly sweet filling where the maple flavour is muted. For this recipe, we rely on maple butter and maple sugar (a fine granulated sugar that is 100 % maple) to achieve the consistency. The texture of the filling will seem a little gritty, but that's okay. Upon storage, the maple filling will dry out further (in a good way), leading to a texture similar to an Oreo sandwich cookie filling.
Assembling the sandwich cookies is a little tedious and there doesn't seem to be a faster route. To save time, place all the shortbread cookies on a sheet pan, flipping half to expose the underside. Then place teaspoons of filling on the exposed underside of all of the flipped cookies, then sandwich them all. By doing a task at a time for all the cookies, you will save some time.
Baking with maple syrup
You will likely notice the absence of maple syrup in this maple cookie recipe. That's because maple syrup contains some water, and isn't ideal for incorporating in cookies and frostings. Instead, we are relying on pure maple sugar (made by boiling down maple syrup to crystallize it) and maple butter (a pure maple spread made from whipped crystallized maple syrup). Both of these ingredients are better suited for incorporating in cookies and frostings/fillings.
Baking with maple syrup can be tricky, which is why it's great to have other pure maple products to use, when the syrup isn't the most suited for the job.
Maple cream cookies
Maple shortbread cookies
Maple shortbread cookies
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the maple sugar for several minutes.
- Add the egg yolk, and mix to combine, scraping down the bowl as needed.
- Stir in the flour and salt with the mixer on low, scraping the bowl as needed so that the butter mixture is incorporated with all the flour. Continue mixing until the dough holds together when pressed.
- Divide the dough into two equal disks. If your kitchen is warm, you may have to chill the dough for 30 minutes at this stage to help the butter firm up. If so, wrap both disks in plastic wrap to chill. Otherwise, only wrap half in plastic wrap to prevent drying while you work with the rest.
- Roll out the first disk of dough on a lightly floured surface until it's ⅛" thick. Cut into the maple leaf shapes with a 2¼ inch cookie cutter. Re-roll the scraps. Transfer all the cookies to a parchment-lined sheet pan. You should be able to fit about 15 per sheet, and between the two disks of dough, you will likely cut out about 56 maple shortbread cookies (to make 28 sandwich cookies).
- Refrigerate for 15 minutes before baking while you preheat the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Once the cutout cookies are cold, using a pairing knife, score the cookies to create the vein patterns of the leaves on the surface of the cookies. This is optional but makes the leaf cookies more realistic, just like the commercial cookies. Don't cut through the dough, just score the surface of it.
- Bake until the edges begin to brown lightly, 13–15 minutes, rotating if necessary partly through the baking time so that the edges brown evenly.
- Let cool completely on a wire rack before sandwiching the cookies with filling.
Maple cream filling
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is creamy and smooth.
- Add the maple butter and maple sugar, and continue beating the mixture until it is light, fluffy, and smooth. This takes several minutes so be patient. Make sure to scrape down the bowl sides periodically to make sure all the ingredients are properly mixed. Use immediately.
- When the cookies have cooled and the maple cream cream filling is ready, spread a teaspoon of the filling on the underside of a maple leaf cookie, and top with another, pressing lightly to glue the two cookies together. You can use an offset spatula to scrape any excess filling.
- The filling will be soft on the day you assemble the cookies and then will dry out slightly and set in place after about a day. Store the cookies in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.