Maple Mania, Part I: Marvelous Maple-Flax Cookies!

March 17, 2009

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As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  


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:


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! 🙂

Maple Flax Cookies



Looking somewhat like oatmeal cookies, with a crunchy exterior and chewy center, these intesely maple-flavored treats will please everyone.  Whole flax seeds add bulk, while the oatmeal and flax meal both contribute heart-healthy soluble fiber.

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs


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


45 Responses to “Maple Mania, Part I: Marvelous Maple-Flax Cookies!”

  1. VeggieGirl Says:

    HOLY YUM!!! And hell yes for REAL maple syrup 😀

  2. Definitely making these for my ladies tea party this weekend. Love the simple cookies.

  3. Katy Says:

    I’m definitely not a maple syrup expert, as I unfortunately grew up on the fake corn syrup kind. Blech! Real is definitely better!

    Those cookies look delicious!

  4. happyveganlady Says:

    I second VeggieGirl’s ‘holy yum’, the syrup and the cookies look and sound outstanding! Here in the UK, most people eat thing pancakes with lemon and sugar for Pancake Day. My mum lived in Canada when she was little so we’ve always eaten stacks of thick pancakes with lashings of maple syrup – there is nothing better than eating the last few syrup-loaded pieces of pancake! One of my housemates prefers golden syrup to maple (crazy, I know). I am trying tirelessly to convert her!

  5. Ashley Says:

    Uhoh I have all the ingredients for these – I might have to make them soon! They look so good. I used to be really anti maple syrup, not sure why. Maybe because I grew up with the Aunt Jemima syrup (not that I ever liked it).

  6. Jes Says:

    Finally a recipe with flax that doesn’t force me to use a coffee grinder! (cleaning the leftover flax from the grinder is such a b&^%*!)

    I was able to bring a quart of locally made maple syrup back to the South with me from western New York this winter and oh my goodness it’s so wonderful! I can’t even imagine the glories of organic!

  7. yummy! i have recently discovered the wonders of real maple syrup. =)

  8. JennShaggy Says:

    Thank you 🙂
    I actually owe you a huge “thanks”. I found Kate Harding’s blog through your site, and I’ve really enjoyed reading through it for the past few days.

  9. oh gosh those look good! maple is such an extraordinary taste.

  10. Lisa Says:

    These look so good! I love the flavor of maple and oatmeal cookies without raisins or other fruit. I think these might be a healthy hit at my house.

  11. melody Says:

    Those look amazing! I’m afraid I can’t afford any syrup right now, but I am filing this away…

    also, good job with the ACD..

  12. Tara Says:

    Yum, these look so good! I usually can’t afford maple syrup but maybe I’ll splurge to make these!

  13. Lori Says:

    Lucky you! Thanks for this thorough review. I’ve always been so interested in maple syrup ever since we watched a video of its production in my high school sociology class years ago. One of nature’s beautiful foods! I can’t wait to try these cookies!

  14. jessy Says:

    i’m with you on tasting the difference between organic & non-organic maple syrup. dan & i are all about the awesome that is organic maple! mmmmmmmm!

    totally going to make your marvelous maple-flax cookies, Ricki! i have all the ingredients at home! wahooooooooo! thanks for the lovely ‘n tasty recipe! superw00t!

  15. Vegyogini Says:

    I love grade B maple syrup; it’s my favorite! I’m ashamed to admit that I grew up with the junky maple-flavored syrup that really had nothing to do with maple syrup, but I discovered the real thing about 3 years ago. There’s no turning back now!

    I’ll definitely bake a batch of these cookies sometime soon, but sadly can’t bake them for my Celiac-afflicted mom because most oats aren’t considered GF (cross-contamination). Thanks for the recipe!

  16. Sara Says:

    These cookies look super delicious! They look like a wholesome granola bar in cookie-form!

  17. tahinitoo Says:

    Must make, must make, must make these cookies!

  18. Gina Says:

    Yummy looking cookies!! I have to shy away from making any more baked goods though…my “fat” pants officially fit me today 😦

  19. shellyfish Says:

    These sound super-delish! I’d totally forgotten about “maple snow”. My grandmother’s family made their own maple syrup when she was little, and I just learned that my father used to make maple syrup with his mother, too (other side of the family). It’s in my veins!!! And maple sugar candy is one of my favourite treats ever!

  20. Kelly Says:

    Those cookies look delicious and the syrup sounds heavenly. With syrup prices so high it’s nice you were able to get a freebie.

  21. Andrea Says:

    I do love maple syrup but it’s so expensive now. Back in the “olden days” I used to use it for all my baking. We used to buy a case of quarts from a local maple sugar farmer (is that what you call maple syrup makers?) and it was quite a thrill to see all those glowing bottles. Now we buy a pint now and then.

    The cookies look well worth a splurge—and they only use 3 tablespoons. Yum.

  22. Pearl Says:

    those cookies, by itself, if i hadn’t heard that they were made from maple syrup, look great.

    now, with maple syrup, they’re larger than life.

  23. Heather Says:

    maple and flax! sounds tasty. and i agree. real maple syrup is THE BEST.

  24. Celine Says:

    I’ve been jonesing for pure maple syrup ever since I used the last drop of the bottle I had. why must it be so damn good and expensive? why? hopefully, the cost goes down soon so that I can try your beautiful cookies.

  25. Kiersten Says:

    I don’t need to try those cookies to already know I like them. I love anything with real maple syrup in it! I can’t believe I used to eat the fake stuff when I was younger *gags*

  26. Krista Says:

    Wow, this post is fantastic! I love your explanation of the grades of maple syrup and your experiences with it, and how you led us right into cookies at the end! Maple syrup over pancakes sound nice, but these cookies look delectably chewy, nutty, and exquisite! I love how there is no flour. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  27. These look like they have great crackly texture and loads of flavor from the maple syrup. And what a simple recipe!

  28. Ricki Says:

    I’m afraid you’ll still have to pull out the coffee grinder for this one. . . there are 2 Tbsp of ground flax seeds in this in addition to the 3 Tbsp of whole seeds! (But it’s worth it, really. . . ) 😉

    Glad you enjoy it! She’s pretty funny, no?

    You can get certified GF oats from Bob’s Red Mill as long as your mom is okay with oats!

  29. Mihl Says:

    Wow, Ricky, these sound amazing!

  30. Claire Says:

    I feel so lucky because our co-op gets coombs, and it is worth it. i too grew up in maple land (northern michigan) and i hate the fake stuff.

    Ooh I have a good idea- make an agave/maple blend. I recently bought some at trader joe’s, but i think i’ll keep the bottle and mix up my own with coombs. it makes that fab flavor go longer. my husband could use a whole bottle a week in his coffee if i didn’t watch him.

  31. Hayley Says:

    This cookie recipe looks perfect. How lucky you are to have sampled such nice syrup! I can’t wait for the next Sweet Freedom giveaway!

  32. These look so awesome!I really love these recipe , it is original. I am definately trying it when I get the chance. Plus I have all the ingredients in my pantry!!
    I’m very impressed how healthy and low fat they are!

  33. Liz Says:

    Ricki, if those Coombs Family Farms folks need more taste tester, please send them my way 🙂

    It must be good some good syrup to have a Canuck approve!

    The cookies look great — another recipe I must make of yours!

  34. Morgyn Says:

    I’ve just started buying organic maple syrup as well; it’s wonderful. 🙂 Luckily I can buy it in bulk so the price works out about the same as the conventional stuff… (Though I’m sure it’s so much cheaper in Canada! Sigh.)

    I can’t wait to try the cookies and the pancakes!

  35. ttfn300 Says:

    these sound amazing! but i’m excited to hear about sweet freedom 🙂

  36. Diann Says:

    These cookies look wonderful, Ricki! I have a little REAL maple syrup left I would love to use in these cookies.

  37. BitterSweet Says:

    I adore anything with maple… Ah, this cookies sound so good, I’m practically drooling!

  38. nico Says:

    Yum! I just made these last night and they were delicious! I love their delicate crunchiness.

    Here’s some surprising info about maple syrup ( Bacon fat and formaldehyde? yuck! I’ll stick with organic, thank you very much!

  39. Just the other day I must have been in the aisle for 10 minutes oscillating between organic or regular maple syrup. Was wondering if it was worth it. (Decided it was)

  40. veganhomemade Says:

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I bought the cheap, crappy brands of syrup for a loooong time before I realized that the price was worth it for real maple syrup. I was a poor college student for a while though, so that’s my excuse.

    The cookies look amazing!

  41. Soma Says:

    Those pics make me want to just dive in and take a bite. I don’t like cookies in general, but these chewy maple syrup ones anytime. I remember lont ime back I dad got us one big bottle of maple syrup from NH. .. boy we did have a great time with that. I would just put some in my palm of my hands & lick:-)

  42. Lisa Says:

    I confess that I am quite spoiled. My dad has been making his own maple syrup for years, so I always have the best on hand. Lovely cookies Ricki and a good use of that fine maple syrup.

  43. Vegetation Says:

    Mmmm maple syrup and MMMMM cookies!

  44. Johanna Says:

    these sound interesting – I grew up thinking maple syrup was just something to pour over pancakes (very generously) but am glad to have discovered how versatile it is – I like the sound of cafes with maple syrup on every table!

  45. […] Maple flax cookies (inspired by these) […]

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