I’ll be using maple extract in my Johnnycake cookie, but it strikes me that I should probably explain that decision. After all, why wouldn’t I use real maple syrup in the recipe?
Well…it’s a matter of texture and depth of flavor. In order to impart a deep, rich maple flavor, you’d have to use about 1/2 to 3/4 cups of maple syrup, in addition to the other wet ingredients, which would make a very wet dough. This is fine if you’re aiming for a moist and spongy texture—more along the lines of a muffin top than a cookie.
If that’s not what you’re aiming for, you’d have to add more dry ingredients—flour or oatmeal—to soak up that extra wetness, which would make the cookies really heavy and dense. Ick.
This is where extracts save the day. Half a teaspoon of an extract can pack as much flavor as 1/2 cup of the “original” and won’t add a bunch of liquid to your dough.
I’m going to use the maple extract in the Johnnycake dough and then “baste” each dough ball with real maple syrup before I put them in the oven. With citrus-based cookies, my trick is to give a triple-shot of flavor: 1) extract, 2) zest, and 3) juice. I’ve found that mixing extracts and the their “sources” gets you the best flavor, aroma, and texture.