Christmas Memories and Not-Quite Gingerbread Cookie Recipe (Vegan)

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My Aunt’s kitchen table was a mess. The decorated cookies were on every available surface drying. Mountains of plain ones, bowls of frosting dyed red, blue, green and yellow were strewn about.

Sprinkles had found their way into every available crevice like a child had popped open a jar of glitter.

Stockings, Christmas trees and stars of all shapes and colors littered the kitchen. My face was coated in frosting, my hands sticky with cookie crumbs and sugar. A few hours had past full of laughter and intense concentration. We frosted enough cookies for an army, soft and pillowy, the cookies would melt in your mouth. These soft sugar bombs called cookies were the Christmas cookies of my youth.

Don’t get me wrong, those nights spent in my aunt’s kitchen I wouldn’t trade for the world. Those cookies were delicious in their simplicity for sure. But the sheer amount of sugar I consumed on these long nights is too much to handle now. Around this time of year most of us retreat to the warmth of the kitchen. We bake cookies, pies and bread to last us till Spring but they never manage to see the new year. It’s a time for family tradition and celebration whether you’ve known your family your whole life or just met them.

For someone on a plant-based diet this time of year can be difficult to navigate. Especially if you are new to the lifestyle. Because all the sweet treats contain butter and eggs, you can get stuck in this mindset of "can't haves". But instead of looking at this time of year as a time of deprivation it can be a time to create new traditions.

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Gone for me are the sugar cookies of the past except for the occasional treat. I created these cookies as someone whose never been a big fan of dried ginger. Gingery for sure but without the signature burn I dislike from too much dried ginger. These cookies are crisp so you can use this recipe to build a gingerbread house. Or avoid the torture of construction altogether and devour the cookies as is.

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I didn’t use a lot of frosting because honestly, it doesn’t need a lot, it would be a little too sweet. I used some dehydrated lemon zest and some coconut as “sprinkles”. The cayenne adds an interesting note and the coconut oil makes these vegan and super crisp.

Enjoy creating new traditions this year with these “not-quite” gingerbread cookies. Let me know what your favorite Holiday cookies are in the comments below

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“Not-Quite” Gingerbread Cookies

Cookie Dough:

1 1/3 C (6.27 oz) All-Purpose Flour

¾ tsp Ground Ginger

¼ tsp Ground Cloves

½ tsp Ground Cinnamon

¼ tsp Ground Cardamom

1/8 tsp Ground Cayenne

½ tsp Salt

1/3 C (2.45 oz) Coconut oil (solid)

1/3 C (3.87 oz) Molasses

¼ C (1.94) Dark brown sugar (or 3.5 Tbsp-1.5 oz sugar and ½ Tbsp-.5 oz molasses)

 

Icing:

1.5 C Powdered sugar

4 Tbsp Water

1 tsp Vanilla (optional)

1.       If you are making your own brown sugar just mix the sugar and molasses in a medium bowl until moist.

2.       Add the coconut oil to the sugar and blend by hand or with a mixer until it’s light and fluffy. This mix will not get as “fluffy” as a dough with vegan margarine. It’s more important to stop before the mixture becomes liquid as the coconut oil may melt with the friction than it is to get the perfect “fluffiness”

3.       Add the rest of the molasses and blend until combined

4.       Add the flour, spices and salt, blending until a dough forms. I mixed my dough by hand and found that after a while it was easier to dump the dough onto lightly floured work surface and lightly knead the dough together.

5.       Once it’s formed wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for one hour or overnight.

6.       Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. While that is in the fridge mix the icing ingredients* together in a small bowl. I added matcha (green tea powder) to mine to get the green color. But feel free to experiment with other natural colors or use the store bought food colors for your cookies.

7.       Cut the dough in half and roll it out until it’s about ¼ inch. Cut out your desired shapes. The bigger cookies in the pictures took about 7 minutes while the small ones took between 3 to 5. Bake until just down and firm around the edges. They will harden as they cool.

8.       Ice and decorate as desired, enjoy!

 

*Note: the icing ratio is just a suggestion. The consistency you’re going for is an icing that flows freely but doesn’t spread or flood too much when applied to the cookies. To make it stiffer add more powdered sugar, to make it looser add more water.

Ali Lawrence