Vermont maple syrup is luminous, and these sablés (shortbread cookies) let the flavor shine. DIY oat flour adds lightness, and buckwheat adds structure. Also gluten free!
Well, this year started with a tragic bang. It feels stupid to post about cookies when democracy is crumbling. But one thing I’ve always loved about food is its ability to bring people together and have conversations—good ones, hard ones, and sad ones.
I’ve had the extreme privilege to be able to drive across this country for the past four months. It’s a gorgeous country, but full of differences in its landscapes, cultures, and people. My California bubble (no surprise) didn’t prepare me for this, and along with many others, I’ve been thinking more and more about what it all means while also finding small pieces of joy when they arise.
I’ve tried to get better at listening to others even if I disagree with them. In each city we visit, I try to understand how it ticks and moreover, why it ticks like that. My medium has always been food, which is admittedly a small sliver of reality, but still fraught with politics. My goal is to push myself further to understand all the intricacies of why something exists and persists so I can share good, important information vs false, harmful things.
In Vermont, where I currently am, maple syrup prevails, and it’s no surprise that it came from the natives, who cultivated syrup long before French settlers colonized the land. Many tribes resided here, each with their own legend on how maple syrup came to be. My favorite one says that one of the gods, who was a bit of a trickster, thought that men would become lazy and fat if all they had to do was collect syrup from the tree. To ensure that never happens, he poured water into all the maple trees so that men would have to work hard to boil down the sap and procure the syrup!
Vermont’s maple syrup is a beautiful, iridescent elixir. The state has strict standards to ensure high quality, and the state is dotted with sugar houses where you can see the production process in action. If you’re not in Vermont (which is like, most of us, lezbereal), I believe Whole Foods and smaller grocery stores carry it—let know what y’all find!
I wanted my pastry to let the syrup shine, so I made these Vermont maple oat sablés, aka French shortbread cookies. The irony that I’m using maple to bake something from the country that colonized this place isn’t lost on me.
These sablés consist of oat flour that I ground myself because it’s easy! Just whiz some oats in a food processor. The result is a soft flour with enough grit to add texture to the sablés without overpowering the maple flavor. Buckwheat adds structure—oat flour is very fluffy, which makes for a wonderfully light cookie but can make the dough hard to work with. You’ll still need to chill the dough well before baking, but the results are worth it. And I guess that makes these sablés gluten free!
I’m hopeful that we can all continue to push each other and ourselves to be better. America sucks sometimes, but it’s what we got, and I hope these Vermont maple oat sablés add a bit of joy to it all.