One of my favourite kind of cookies growing up was called Chewy Honey Cookies. I love chewy cookies to begin with, and also love honey, so when I would bite into a chewy honey cookie it was the best of both worlds. I can remember sucking the honey out of the cookie as I chewed it, like an extra shot of sweet with every bite. So yummy!
I once wanted to make a nice chewy molasses cookie, so I asked my mom if she had a good recipe. She copied it down for me, and as I looked at it I noticed that it was almost the exact same recipe as for chewy honey cookies. The only difference, other than the molasses/honey, was that it called for ginger instead of vanilla.
We recently bought a very big jug of maple syrup, and as I craved some cookies the other night I thought I might try substituting maple syrup for the honey to see what would happen. It’s a pretty similar consistency, and since you could do it with molasses I figured it might work just as well; and it did! They came out very soft and chewy, with a very subtle maple flavour. But there was something about them that wasn’t quite as satisfying as the honey and molasses ones. It took me a while to put my finger on it, or my tongue as the case was.
The recipe calls for two teaspoons of baking soda as the leavening agent. If you have ever accidentally used baking soda in a recipe instead of baking powder, you may have noticed your baking had a strong kind of bitter salty taste. I really don’t like that taste, and that’s what I was tasting. I don’t remember tasting it when using molasses or honey for these cookies. I think because molasses and honey have pretty strong flavours of their own, they are able to cover up the taste of the baking soda; however, maple syrup has a more delicate flavour, so it can’t cover it up in the same way. If I make them again I will probably try to use baking powder, adjusting the quantity accordingly, to see if that makes a difference and makes the maple flavour pop out a bit more. I think it would be similar if you substituted agave, which also has a very mild flavour. So if you decide to substitute the sweetener in a recipe, make sure you test it to see how it works and tastes!