Archive | December, 2008

Vegan Christmas Cookies 101

9 Dec

Participating in a cookie swap this year?  Giving a tin of freshly baked cookies to your loved ones?  Bringing in a plate of cookies to share at work?  For many vegans, the holidays are our chance to show the world that vegan baked goods are delicious and just as good as their non-vegan counterparts and lucky for us veganizing your favourite family recipes is ridiculously easy.  Here are my top tips for sharing the goodness of vegan holiday cookies.

Sparkled Ginger Cookies
Sparkled Ginger Cookies from ‘Vegan with a Vengeance’ that were given to my co-workers today.

1.  Inspiration!

Don’t know where to start?  There are tons of sources of inspiration for holiday cookies such as magazines, cookbooks or maybe even your grandmother’s handwritten recipe cards.  Here are my favourite online resources:

Martha Stewart’s Cookie of the Day delivers a recipe for a mouth-watering cookie to your email inbox each day. For the month of December, it will be a Christmas cookie. I get a lot of inspiration from these, this is where I found the recipe for the Linzer Cookies I baked earlier.

Toronto’s The Star is hosting a very special event, A Cookie a Day Until Christmas, with each day featuring an unusual cookie that look amazing such as Pumpkin Ginger Pillows and Sicilian White Cookies.

Joy of Baking’s Christmas Cookie Recipes has a recipe for every one of your holiday cookie needs and then some. They also provide you with a history and origin of the cookie which is always fun to read and allows you to impress people with your ability to whip out an interesting cookie fact like “Did you know that Peanut Butter Cookies were invented in the 1890s by vegetarian Dr. Kellogg who was looking for a substitute for dairy butter?”.

2.  Bake!

Okay, you may have noticed that the links I gave you under resources were not very vegan.  So before you’re all like ‘hey!  what gives?’, I’m going to tell you that veganizing cookies is all kinds of crazy simple. See:

Butter.  I replace butter with Earth Balance Buttery Sticks or Shortening.  Sometimes I’ll use oil, it all depends on the recipe (like if the dough calls to be rolled, I always use EB because I’ve never had any luck rolling out an oil dough).  Just reduce the amount a little bit, Isa wrote in Vegan with a Vengeance that you can replace 1/2 cup butter with 1/3 cup canola oil.

Milk.  A non-dairy milk obviously. 

Eggs.  There are SO many things you can replace eggs with and you’re probably familar with them.  My go-to egg replacer for cookie baking is always 1/4 soy yogurt for one egg, I’m almost always happy with the results.  I’ll also use a flax egg-1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons of water=1 egg (but be careful because in a light coloured cookie, the flax is quite visible). 

Oh and while all this baking goes down, put on the Christmas music!  I happen to be an avid fan of christmas music, here a few of my favourites:

Merry Christmas Baby-The Ramones
Christmas Wrapping-The Waitresses
A Christmas Duel-The Hives & Cyndi Lauper
A Beguiled Christmas Sales-Jason Collett
Santa, Bring My Baby Back to Me-Belle and Sebastian
Hey Guys! It’s Christmas Time!-Sufjan Stevens

3.  Wrap!

Ok now that you’ve got your cookies all baked and decorated, it’s time to wrap them up.  I usually use tins because they’re cute, reusable and extemely cheap.  But if you want to get your cookies all fancied up check out Martha’s Cookie packaging ideas.

4.  Give!

So now that all the planning, measuring, mixing, baking and wrapping (and eating lots of dough in the process) has been done, give away your cookies to someone you care about!  Show them how delcicious veganism is!  Maybe if you were really generous, you’ll have included a copy of the recipe with your cookies so that they too can whip up a batch of cookies if ever the need arises.  I hope you have fun and your effort is appreciated, I don’t know about you but I certainly have trouble saying no to a gingerbread man this time of year…

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Christmas Cookies #1: Linzer Cookies

8 Dec

Phew. I am officially done school for the semester. To celebrate, yesterday I baked Christmas Cookies and watched Elf which is one of my favourite Christmas movies (and I have a lot of them).

Last year for Christmas I received a set of Linzer Cookie cutters as a gift and decided yesterday to finally try them out. And because I’m still in study-mode, here’s a cookie history lesson! Linzer Cookies (or Linzer Eyes and related to Linzertortes) are an export of Austria, believed to have been first baked way back in the 1700s in the City of Linz (hence the name!). They are a sandwich cookie with the top cookie that is cutout with a small shape so that the pretty jam filling can be seen and dusted with a layer of confectioner’s sugar. I thought that this pretty cookie would be the perfect cookie to jump-start my holiday cookie baking venture for the next few weeks so here they are, Linzer Cookies!

Linzer Cookies

I simply veganized a recipe of Martha Stewart’s and they turned out wonderfully. Using my cutters, they made way more than her estimated count of 16. I can’t remember my final quantity, I forgot to count and they disappeared rather quickly. I’m going to say about 30ish? Or more?

Linzer Cookies

1 cup of unblanced hazelnuts
1 cup (2 sticks) of Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon table salt
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Jam for spreading the sandwiches with (I used strawberry but traditionally raspberry or black currant preserves are used)

To toast the hazelnuts
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place hazelnuts on baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, watching them so they don’t burn.
3. Remove hazelnuts from oven and place them in a clean kitchen towel and rub them vigorously to remove the skins as much as possible. Set aside the nuts to allow them to cool.
4. Process the hazelnuts in a food processor until they are finely ground and set aside until they are completely cool.

To make the cookie dough
1. In a large bowl, cream the earth balance and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the soy yogurt and beat until smooth. Stir in Vanilla.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the ground hazelnuts, flour, baking soda and spices. Add this to the earth balance and sugar mixture and beat until combined.
3. Divide dough into two discs and chill in refridgerator for at least an hour.

To bake the cookies
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface and cut out an even number of tops and bottoms.
3. Bake cookies for 8 minutes, until the edges are ever so slightly golden. Allow the cookies to cool on wire racks.

To assemble the cookies
1. Sift a layer of confectioner’s sugar on to the cookie tops (the ones with the cutout).
2. Spread the cookie bottoms with a thin layer of jam.
3. Make the top cookie and the bottom cookie kiss and there! You have a linzer cookie! 

Enjoy them with your favourite holiday movie.