I am a hard core multitasker. Just ask anyone at work. I work on more things than an otherwise normal employee can sanely comprehend. It is my biggest strength and will lead to my biggest downfall. Multitasking is good unless you want to do something well. I can juggle a lot of things at once, but I am not good at anything in particular. Job wise, great, career wise, bad.
At home, I am the same way. When things slow down, and I find myself being able to perform tasks one at a time, I start getting antsy. This is what lead me into running, triathlons, grad school, and now, this lovely blog.
That being said, let me share an instance where my impulsive need to multitask did more harm than good.
Before I start my story, let me take this opportunity to award my first Liebster Award (remember that?) to a small blog called The Westchester Breakfast Club. In full disclosure, I am one of the core members of this club. I wasn’t sure if it would be right to pass along this award to a blog I was a part of, but then I thought about it and I decided it would be okay. I am only a part of the whole, and the other members deserve some goodness too. The Westchester Breakfast Club was started by 6 friends as a means to meet up once a week over breakfast (or brunch) and catch up. The blog is a log of our adventures at different restaurants and our impressions of the food and the conversation. It’s definitely worth a read for breakfast fans of Westchester!
Back to my story. This past weekend the Westchester Breakfast Club, along with some friends went to the Maple Syrup Pancake Breakfast at the Muscoot Farms in Somers, NY. There we had an all you can eat pancake breakfast with delicious maple syrup provided by Hummingbird Ranch. They were also selling their crop of maple syrup. I picked myself up a half gallon of Grade B syrup for the summer.
Maple Syrup is harvested once the frigid winter weather starts to subside and the tree roots start to send up sap to the branches. The sap is collected through taps that are drilled in by the harvesters. This sap is collected in buckets and then boiled down to evaporate all the water. About 98% of the bucket will be water, and the last 2% remaining is the Maple Syrup we use.
Now, many have asked me what the difference between Grade A and Grade B maple syrup was. Me, having no idea, figured it must be determined by the length of time it is boiled. The less boiling yields lighter, sweeter syrup which is Grade A, and the more it’s boiled, it gets darker, which gives you Grade B right? Totally wrong.
As per the kind gentlemen manning the maple syrup boiling demonstration, the difference is determined by when the sap is collected. The sap that first runs up the tree yields Grade A because it is lighter and sweeter. After a while, the sap starts to change a little after the initial phase, which then yields a darker maple syrup that is best used for baking because it retains more of that maple flavor in the final product. That is Grade B syrup. B for Baking! So, that is really the difference. It all depends on when they harvest the sap.
With my newly acquired half gallon of Grade B Maple Syrup, I had to bake with it. So I made these Maple Nutmeg Cookies, another Smitten Kitchen find, and slightly adapted for my style. However, because of my multitasking tendencies, I made a baking boo boo.
As I was making these cookies, I was also helping out my brother make Coq Au Vin. One of the steps in making Coq Au Vin is to braise the chicken (in the red wine yumminess) in the oven. The same oven I was also baking my cookies in. I thought nothing of it. The oven was on, why not. Two birds, one stone, and I save on gas. However, when I sent these cookies to my wonderful taste testers, they all remarked the same thing. They smell like chicken broth (one person said curry). Still not having full use of my sense of smell yet, I had no clue what they were talking about. Was it the butter? Did my nutmeg go bad? Was it the maple syrup?
Then it dawned on me. You don’t store opened butter in the fridge because it picks up all the smells of your fridge. You don’t bake butter cookies in the same oven you are braising chicken because the butter will pick up the smell of the chicken!! Thankfully they didn’t taste like chicken, they just smelled like them. Lesson learned kids, only one thing in the oven at a time!
Maple Nutmeg Cookies (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
0.5 cups of granulated sugar (you can use more if you want sweeter cookies. Up to 1 cup)
0.5 cups of Grade B Maple Syrup
1 large egg yolk
3 cups all purpose flour (375 g. I did 300 g all purpose flour, 75 g whole wheat flour)
0.24 teaspoon ground nutmeg (if you are lucky enough to have whole nutmegs, 0.5 teaspoons of the freashly grated nutmeg)
1.25 teaspoon kosher salt
Now, go forth and…
Cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffly
Add in the yolk and drizzle the maple syrup in while the mixer is still running (might want to slow it down a bit though)
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, nutmeg and salt. Add it into the bowl with the butter mixture and mix until just about combined. It should be kind of loose and clumpy.
Pour the batter on top of some plastic wrap and form into a disk. Wrap tightly and put it in the fridge to chillax for at least 2 hours.
After it is chilled, preheat the oven to 350degF and prep a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.
Pull out the disk and quarter it. Take one quarter and place on a lightly floured surface. The rest can be wrapped and put back in the fridge for later.
Roll out the dough until about 1/8″ thick. Cut out cookies with your preferred cookie cutter(s). I chose a squirrel because it was the closest thing I could relate to a maple tree. Re-roll the scrapes and repeat. If the dough starts getting really sticky, just throw it back in the fridge to chill out again.
The cookies get baked for about 10 minutes, until the edges start getting a little golden in color. Cool on a rack and then pack in an airtight container.