As I mentioned in my post about Christmas traditions, one of the things my family always did when I was a kid was break out the cookie cutters and make Christmas-themed sugar cookies. Between the rolling out, the cutting, and my insistence on cramming every possible decoration onto each cookie, it tended to take a while to get through a batch. But we had a lot of fun, and those were the sorts of experiences that got me going with all the cooking and baking I do today!
Since it’s usually only my mom and I around the house the majority of the time these days, we don’t go through as many Christmas cookies as we used to. In fact, I wasn’t even going to bake sugar cookies this year, but somehow the idea of making a small batch with decorative piped icing got into my head and wouldn’t leave me alone. When I couldn’t find a sugar cookie recipe I liked in any of the vegan cookbooks I have hanging around, I broke out the trusty orange Betty Crocker book and looked up the ones my mom and I used to make. Lo and behold, the only non-vegan ingredients were butter and eggs–easy to swap out! It didn’t take long for my kitchen to turn into a sugar cookie production line.
I wound up abandoning the idea of piping icing outlines around each individual cookie, not because I didn’t think it would look good, but because I was impatient and wanted them to be finished so I could eat some! Instead, I whipped up half a batch of the sugar cookie frosting from the VegNews Holiday Cookie Collection, grabbed a metal spatula, and went to work. I frosted a few of the cookies in the regular white frosting, then tinted what was left red and green using some natural food coloring I picked up last year. Today was the first time I’ve used it for a baking project this size, and I like how it makes an earthy finished color as opposed to the super-bright colors you get with artificial dyes.
Last but not least were the toppings: vegan chocolate chips, Sprinklez confetti sprinkles, and a few pieces of crushed organic candy cane. Not exactly the technicolor sprinkle bonanza of my childhood, but still pretty darn fun. I was pretty excited to be able to use the candy canes; I can only eat naturally-colored ones and had to order them specially from Natural Candy Store. (Actually, my mom and I ordered a ridiculous amount of candy between the two of us, including these babies–I have never seen a candy cane so big!) All in all, I had a good time making these and wanted to share the adapted recipe.
Christmas Sugar Cookies
adapted from Betty Crocker
makes approx. 32 cookies
1/4 cup Earth Balance, softened
2 tbsp. non-hydrogenated shortening, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. ground flax seed + 4 tbsp. water, mixed well
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
vegan chocolate chips
crushed organic candy canes
1) In a medium bowl, beat together the Earth Balance, shortening, sugar, flax mixture, and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour and baking powder; mix until well combined and the dough begins to form a ball. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
2) Preheat the oven to 400°F. On a lightly-floured work surface, roll the dough 1/8in thick. Cut into fun holiday shapes–trees, angels, snowmen, candy canes, whatever!–and use a metal spatula to transfer to ungreased cookie sheets. If you want to add sprinkles, chocolate chips, or crushed candy canes without any frosting, put ’em on now. If not, leave the cookies plain and bake as directed.
3) Bake 6 to 8 minutes, or until very lightly browned. Keep an eye on these–they’re very easy to burn!
4) Transfer to wire racks to cool and decorate as desired.