Now's when we should be trying to sell our yoga mats on Craigslist (do people do that?), finding a map so we don't get lost walking from Salamanca to Santiago in February and—at the top of the list—revisiting all things favourite one last time.* Instead, I'm trying to find an ingenious way to use up a full bag of bulgur, half a sack of quinoa and an aging box of couscous that I've passed over three times for a better-tasting whole-wheat version from the bio store down the street. There's also an unopened jar of molasses and an uncracked container of cassonade, the results of two separate episodes of grocery store amnesia amid the aisles.
My mom (bless her soul) schlepped the jug of maple syrup halfway across the world in her suitcase in November, but I refuse to do the same in February. In any other situation, pancakes for breakfast every day would be a welcome solution, but there are countless pains au chocolat to be consumed before we leave. I've done the math (breakfast squared x seventeen days / waist size of my pants) and it's not workable, particularly when you start factoring in bread and cheese.
You could make the argument that maple walnut shortbread is no better, but this syrup is not going to drink itself. Best hop to it.
* My mantra in the days and weeks before leaving anywhere. Just ask R. We've only begun and I think he's already sick of it!
Maple Walnut Shortbread
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 large egg yolk
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon fleur de sel + extra for sprinkling on top (optional)
1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted and skins removed
75 grams cassonade or other coarse sugar (optional)
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the yolk and mix until blended. Slowly drizzle in the maple syrup, beating continuously as you go.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, nutmeg and salt. Stir in the nuts. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring just until combined.
Shape the dough into a tube, rolling it back and forth until you have an even cylinder. Each end should be slightly smaller in diameter than you'd ultimately like your cookies to be. Wrap the dough tightly with plastic wrap and chill until firm.
When the dough is chilled through, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the cassonade sugar onto a plate.
Remove the chilled dough from the fridge. Roll the log in the sugar until the exterior is evenly coated. Slice the dough into 1/2-centimetre coins. Arrange the slices on the prepared cookie sheet, leaving room for the cookies to expand as they bake. At this point, you can sprinkle a few flakes of fleur de sel on top (or not).
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden on top.
Source: My nut variation on a Smitten Kitchen adaptation of a Gourmet Magazine recipe.