Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sugar Cookies!

Valentine's Day vegan sugar cookies


I don't remember particularly liking sugar cookies before I was vegan. They were okay. I'd eat them if they were offered, but I never really sought them out. Somehow, though, once I started baking vegan myself, I found myself craving them. I stumbled upon this recipe in one of my first vegan cookbooks, and over the last five years or so, it's become an old favorite.

One of the best things about sugar cookies is how fun (and easy) they are to shape and decorate.
So, whether you're in the mood for a Chanukah cookie...
Chanukah sugar cookies
Or some Star Wars fan fare...
vegan Star Wars sugar cookies

(like a Millenium Falcon)
vegan Star Wars sugar cookies

(or a tie fighter or x-wing)
vegan Star Wars sugar cookies

...you can pretty much shape them into just about anything you want!
vegan Star Wars sugar cookies

For Valentine's Day, they're a pretty easy go-to. I acquired some heart cookie cutters a while (possibly several years) ago with the intention of making some Valentine's Day cookies, but didn't quite get around to breaking them out until this year. Better late than never!
Valentine's Day vegan sugar cookies
Valentine's Day vegan sugar cookies
I had a real decorating bonanza!

But enough about me...on to the cookie recipe!

Vegan Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's Joy of Vegan Baking
What You'll Need:
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated, non-dairy butter (at room temperature)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Egg replacer plus warm water (equivalent of 1 egg)*
1 tsp vanilla extract

What You'll Need to Do:
Sift together flour and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.

Beat the non-dairy butter and the sugar with an electric hand (or stand) mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Combine egg replacer of choice with appropriate amount of water and mix together in a small bowl. Add this "egg" mixture, along with the vanilla extract, to the butter mixture and beat another minute. Add the flour mixture and beat for another three minutes or so, until you have a nice, homogenous mixture.

Divide dough in half, roll each half into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about an hour, until firm.

When the dough is ready, cover two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350F. Remove one ball of dough from the refrigerator and roll out onto a floured surface. Roll dough about 1/4-inch thick, and then cut to the desired shape. Place on prepared cookie sheets, and then place the cookie sheet in the fridge for another 15 minutes to chill the dough prior to baking.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on thickness), until they just begin to brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and let sit on baking sheet for several minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Valentine's Day vegan sugar cookies

Once cool, decorate away!

*Tips and Tricks
I am not usually a fan of out-of-the-box egg replacer; I find it can taste a bit chalky and make things a bit dry. In the case of this recipe, however, I have to say it is not a problem! I have used both Bob's Red Mill egg replacer and Ener-G Egg replacer with great success. They require slightly different amounts of powder and water to substitute for an egg, however, so read directions and use accordingly. If you don't mind a slight change in texture, I imagine flaxseeds or chia seeds might work well, too!

Feel free to make these cookies all different sizes, as I've done here! Just be sure to bake similar sizes together, as smaller cookies will bake faster.

Valentine's Day vegan sugar cookies

These were the thinnest I'd ever made these cookies. They were a bit thinner than 1/4-inch. This makes for crispier cookies. I think I actually prefer them thicker, but this was a good experiment, and they're certainly still tasty! Thickness of your sugar cookie is all about personal preference.

If you want to decorate your cookies using the techniques below, all you need is some vegan chocolate.

Vegan Cookie-Decorating Chocolate
What You'll Need:
1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used a combination of white chocolate chips, tinted pink, and dark chocolate chips)
one or two small plastic baggies, with a small corner cut out of each (depending on the number of colors you're using, and if you want to decorate with fine lines and squiggles!)
vegan sprinkles, optional*

What You'll Need to Do:
Put the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high for 1 minute. After 1 minute, remove from the microwave and stir thoroughly with a fork, really pressing down on the softened chips as much as you can. Return to the microwave for another 30 seconds and stir thoroughly again. At this point, the chocolate should be completely melted. If not, continue to heat in 15 second intervals until melted, stirring thoroughly after each additional interval. Be very careful not to overheat, as this will cause the chocolate to seize and make it very difficult, if not impossible, to work with!

Once the chocolate is melted, you can dip your cookies in it, or use the back of a spoon or knife to spread it on to the surface. Then, spoon remaining chocolate into the corner of a prepared plastic baggie. With a very small hole in the corner cut out, you can use this to apply the chocolate as a line. Have fun with it and don't sweat it if you're not an artistic genius--outlining the shapes you've made, and sticking with squiggles and zig-zags is a good way to start!
Valentine's Day vegan sugar cookies
Be sure to let it dry for a while. You can either put the cookies in the fridge, or just let them air out. Just keep in mind that if you're applying everything quite thickly, it could take a while for them to completely set. You'll be able to tell they've set once the surface sheen disappears and they appear matte (in the pictures above and below the white chocolate is starting to dry, but the dark chocolate is still quite wet!).

*If you're looking for some decorations that you're sure are vegan, I like "Sprinkelz" They're vegan, gluten-free, and they get their color from sources like turmeric and red cabbage!
Valentine's Day vegan sugar cookies

Valentine's Day vegan sugar cookies
Enjoy!

If this whole project seems a bit much, but you'd still like some vegan Valentine's Day ideas, you can check out my entry on chocolate-covered strawberries, or try a box of vegan chocolates!

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