In the final week before the holidays our local middle school has a wonderful way of showing appreciation for the teachers and staff. Parents bring in home-made cookies, package them up and deliver them to each classroom. Although I didn’t grow up with cookie exchanges, it’s a tradition I wholeheartedly embrace. There is something so nice about taking the time to make something for friends and family. It’s a great combination of creativity, warmth, and community.
With vegan baking the trick is to make something that doesn’t taste like a compromise. You don’t want the recipient to think “hey this is pretty good for a vegan cookie.” Over the past couple of years, I’ve found some fantastic recipes that will hold their own next to non-vegan varieties any day of the week.
Here are a couple of favorites for you, and please feel free to send me your ideas, too!
Gingerbread Chocolate Hearts
This one comes from The PPK. My innovation is the heart shape, because that’s the only cookie cutter I own, and the fact that instead of decorating them with icing, I cover my cookies with melted chocolate. The combination of dark chocolate and ginger is surprisingly delicious!
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup plain soymilk
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour (or a mix of both)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon each ground nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 bag vegan chocolate chips.
In a large bowl whisk together oil and sugar for about 3 minutes. Add molasses and soymilk. The molasses and soymilk won’t really blend with the oil but that’s ok.
Sift in all of the other dry ingredients, mixing about half way through. When all of the dry ingredients are added, mix until a stiff dough is formed. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour or up to 3 days in advance. If you chill longer than an hour you may want to let it sit for 10 minutes to warm up a bit before proceeding.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease your cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out to a little less than 1/4 inch thick. Cut out your shapes with your cookie cutters and use a thin spatula to gently place on cookie sheets. Bake for 8 minutes.
Remove from oven and let them cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet then move to a cooling rack. While they are cooling, melt your chocolate chips either in the microwave, or in a bowl over hot water. Once the chocolate is melted, either dip ½ of each cookie in it, or use a knife to spread chocolate over 1 half of each cookie – do whatever works.
Chocolate Peppermint Bark
Melted chocolate combines with smashed up candy canes. This recipe allows you to get some aggression out, while creating something of great beauty and deliciousness.
1 bag vegan chocolate chips
5 small or 2 large candy canes
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Put the candy canes in a bag, cover with a towel and smash with a mallet. Don’t overdo it or you’ll pulverize them. You want nice little pieces that will give it some crunch, not powder.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, or in the microwave.
Combine the chocolate with the smashed candy canes and pour onto the cookie sheet.
Allow it to cool in the fridge for about 45 minutes.
Using a knife and a mallet, chisel the solidified chocolate and candy into bite size pieces. Try not to eat all of them as you do this. You want to save some for everyone else… or do you?