Maple Almond Spice Cookies

Maple Almond Spice Cookies
You guys! It’s here! The final countdown. Christmas Eve is just one week away. And I’m finally ready. Presents are purchased and wrapped. Tree is up and decorated. Travel plans are made. Twinkle lights are absolutely everywhere. And these cookies are currently sitting happily in my kitchen, fresh and filling the air with a magical scent that only comes from holiday baking.

I’m setting a pretty jolly scene, aren’t I? Full of holiday cheer. That’s a little misleading. Let me back up.

I think it’s safe to say that the month of December has been a bit of a disaster. Things are so in flux right now that it’s hard to keep up. Between changing life plans, work, and finding time to spend way too much money on presents (whimper), I really haven’t had time to even savor the season until now.

Remember when Christmas was pure magic? You didn’t have to worry about a thing. Suddenly the world was just filled with happy new things. Songs and lights and anticipation. And you believed in all of those things. You knew that everyone else was just a little happier, and your family was just a little closer, and it was all effortless. Savoring was all you had to do.

But then, of course, you grow up.

Christmas isn’t effortless. In fact, it’s the opposite. It requires weeks of planning and crafting and designing. Everyone has their traditions, and every year they strive to get them just right. It can be stressful. And exhausting.

But you know what? Then you reach this point. The point where it starts to come together. When you can sit back for little snatches of time to take in what all that planning and crafting is creating. It’s Christmas. And it’s so worth it. Because it’s one of those things that becomes greater than the sum of its parts. It may not be as all-encompassing as when you were a kid, but the magic is still there. People still come together, to appreciate what they have, and where they are, and who they love. And families linger with each other over coffee, and dote on their kids, and kiss their parents one extra time. It happens. It’s the season. Sure, I may sound corny. That’s fine. I believe, friends. I love every part of it.

In a way, these cookies represent the month of had perfectly. They came from a frenzied day of holiday baking where nothing seemed to go my way. Ingredients were missing, cookies fell flat, and I couldn’t find a recipe that worked the way I wanted. So I decided to make a mish-mash of a maple-nutmeg butter cookie recipe I had laying around and my great-grandmother’s tried-and-true perfect snickerdoodle recipe. And there it was. Magic.

These cookies are fluffy and crumbly with a spot-on chewiness factor. They’re full of holiday spice and have a nutty-sweetness that’s mild and perfect for sidling up with some coffee, tea, or a hot-toddy. Sort of a cross between an almond butter cookie, a snickerdoodle, and… something else. Something more. Something Christmas-y. And something just right for savoring the season.

Maple Almond Spice Cookies

6 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 egg
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 vanilla bean
1.5 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar, for rolling.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine sugars in a small bowl. Add lemon zest and rub into sugar.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle, cream together butter and lemon sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and mix to combine. Then add almond butter, maple syrup, almond extract, and seeds scraped from the vanilla bean.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to mixer slowly, in batches, until dough is just combined.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly grease.

Roll dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Roll in sugar and place on baking sheets, lightly pressing to flatten slightly.

Bake for 8-9 minutes, until slightly golden.