I love this time of year. It’s the only time of year that I bake for a week straight, making baked good after baked good. I spend another several days making hand-dipped chocolates and chocolate bark. And when it’s all said and done, I’ve created some lovely home-baked goodness for my loved ones. And, uh….well, me. See, my ‘planning’ skills aren’t as honed as my ‘I-have-to-make-sure-I-have-enough-for-everyone-and-the-neighbors-and-the-mailman-and-that-postal-worker-who-was-always-so-nice-to-me-and-the-vet’s-office-and-oh-god-who-else?!’ skills, so I always have extra goodies.
And this is not a bad thing. Nope, not at all.
Right around the time I start baking, I start to get questions about how to bake vegan. Usually it’s a favorite recipe that someone wants veganized, and I get one request more than any other- the basic sugar cookie with royal icing. The Ye Olde Standard Christmas Cut-out Cookie. I have so many memories of my childhood making cut-out cookies with my mom, I even remember my favorite cookie cutters for the task- the duck (why are ducks so perfect for Christmas I wonder?) and the candy cane. It’s strange, but I clearly remember beating egg whites to brush the tops of the cookies before we decorated them- it’s weird what we remember. These days I make ’em vegan-style, no nasty assed egg whites here, and decorate them with royal icing. Yum-e! So, here is my go-to recipe for Vegan Sugar Cookies, complete with a recipe for royal icing.
Vegan Sugar Cookies
Makes approximately 36 cookies – depending on size of cookie cutters, you know.
- 1 cup vegan butter or margarine (room temperature)
- 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese (room temperature) – I use Tofutti Brand
- 1 cup organic granulated sugar
- 2 “eggs” – use egg replacer such as Ener-G Brand
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (no imitation please)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3 3/4 cup all purpose flour
Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add egg replacer, vanilla, and cinnamon- mix until combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Gradually add into wet mixture until fully combined. Stir in vegan cream cheese- combine. Wrap dough in plastic and place in fridge for several hours or overnight.
* I usually make this dough a day ahead of when I want to bake. This eliminates the wait time for the dough to chill. *
Preheat oven to 350° and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Wax paper is not a suitable replacement for parchment paper, in case you were wondering. Just trust me on that.
A couple of hours later (or the next day), take the dough out of the fridge and let stand for 15 minutes before working with it. Sprinkle work surface with a little flour and place dough in middle to be rolled out. Dust top with a little flour and roll out to 1/8″ thick (the thicker the cookie, the longer the bake time – conversely, the thinner the cookie, the shorter the bake time – I like my cookies thicker than thinner). Use your favorite cookie cutters (or an upside down glass, come on- everyone’s done it) to cut out cute shapes. Place cookies on lined cookie sheet and bake for 12 – 14 minutes. Bottoms will be barely brown (really, barely brown – not brown) when done. Remove from cookie sheet and let cool on cooling racks. Let cool completely prior to decorating (or eat them as-is, who am I to tell you what to do)
Vegan Royal Icing
This makes quite a lot of icing, plenty to ice all those cookies you just made. This icing is a perfect base for other flavors of icings, experiment with lemon, orange, or cinnamon flavors. It’s also off-white in color, but you can add color to it pretty easy- see my notes at the end about this.
- 2 cups organic powdered sugar (if your sugar isn’t organic, you can’t be sure it’s vegan)
- 6-8 tsp of non-dairy milk (I use soymilk for it’s richness)
- 2 tsp of light corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Place sugar in bowl, add non-dairy milk and whisk like hell until smooth. Add in extracts and corn syrup. Whisk some more. Icing will be smooth, shiny, and a little runny. If you need to, you can add more powdered sugar to make it a bit more thick or non-dairy milk if it gets too thick. Icing will be hard with a shiny finish once dry. You can either dip cookies into icing, or use this icing in a pastry bag. Easy-Peasy.
* A note about food coloring *
I do not use food coloring in my kitchen, nor do I buy products where artificial coloring are used. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love to decorate cookies with pretty colors. My inner Martha Stewart almost demands that I do. I have been successful at recreating most colors, though I haven’t tried blue yet. Here’s a quick list of natural food colorants I’ve used:
Red: Beet Juice is by far the best. Cherry & Raspberry juice work well too.
Yellow: Turmeric – just be careful not to add too much, you don’t want your cookies tasting like turmeric.
Purple: Acai Juice (I love the flavor it imparts to the icing, so delicious), blueberry juice
Green: Kale, spinach, or other green juice. Use sparingly.
You can also find sprinkles for cookies made with raw sugar and carnauba wax, it just takes a bit of reading in the decorating aisle. I splurged on white sparkly sugars, yellow sugar, and red huckleberry sugar for my cookies this year. Delightful!
Read more about food coloring: WARNING: What You Don’t Know About Food Coloring