Maple Almond Crunch Cookies

As the shelves fill with this year’s maple sugar supply, here is a wonderful and healthy recipe for maple sugar-sweetened almond butter cookies. For anyone who loves nut butter, the cookies are a great way to get your daily ration. Thanks to the Sweet and Natural food blog for the inspiration! And yes, you can make a sandwich cookie from these, with maple sugar-sweetened goat cheese as the filling! The cookies have a lovely crunch from the nuts (you can use pecan, almond or walnut crushed nutmeats), and the insides are soft and chewy.

1/2 cup natural almond butter

1/2 cup maple syrup

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped almonds

Preheat the oven to 350*F. In a large bowl, combine natural almond butter, maple syrup, oil and vanilla extract until well blended.  In a separate bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, along with chopped almonds, and stir until just combined.  Let sit for five minutes.  Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls, flatten to about 1/3 of an inch and place onto cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Makes 18 cookies.

Let cookies cool, and then use 4 ounces of fresh goat cheese whipped with 2 Tbsp maple syrup to smear the flat side of one cookie, placing a second cookie on top: voila, the best sandwich cookie ever!

 

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Best of the Mediterranean – Stuffed Fresh Apricots

These make the most amazing "amuse-bouche" -- fun for the mouth:)

You may think this recipe sounds a little too exotic and too difficult to make, and you would be wrong! They are amazing, light and tasty, with enough umami appeal for the palate to be really intriguing. And if you have access to fresh apricots, goat cheese and pistachios, you gotta try these — serve them for company, they’ll be impressed, and you don’t have to tell them it’s sooooo easy! No cooking at all!

15 fresh, ripe apricots, washed and halved, pits removed

6 ounces soft goat cheese

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

zest of 1/2 lemon

2 tbsp. maple syrup

1/4 cup roasted salted pistachios, shelled and chopped (you can just toast them in a dry frying pan and the papery nut-coverings will just flake off)

Arrange the apricot halves cut-side up on a large tray. In a food processor or mini-chopper, blend the goat cheese, cream cheese, maple syrup and lemon zest until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the cheese mixture to a piping bag with a small star tip. Don’t worry if you’re less than proficient with a piping bag – me too – it won’t matter once the apricots are done. In the center of each apricot, pipe a mound of the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios. Serve and watch the smiles. You can make ahead and they will keep for at least 8 hours.

Thanks to http://www.inerikaskitchen.com for the inspiration!