Vegan Sugar Cookies
February 14th is fast approaching, and that means flowers, cards, and of course, sweets! I have long been wanting a recipe for vegan sugar cookies that were just straightforward, easy and tasty. No hard to find ingredients, just simple and delicious. So in the spirit of Valentines day week, (what says love more than vegan cookies!!?) I have finally perfected my recipe!
The basis of these cookies is very simple, and similar to any other sugar cookie recipe out there: oil, flour, sugar. There are two main differences that I had to find work-arounds for, those being: The lack of eggs, and the lack of ‘depth’ that is typically given to sugar cookies by the combination of eggs, butter and the occasional dollop of cream cheese. A lot of the flavor in sugar cookies typically comes from the butter fat, which when combined with the richness in an egg yolk, yields them that homey, comforting flavor. When I took away these two elements I lost a vital piece of the sugar cookie puzzle. I tried replacing the butter with virgin coconut oil to give them some flavor back, but they just tasted like coconuts, which wasn’t exactly what I was going for. What I eventually found to work was two-fold: I added a hefty amount of vanilla, and switched my vinegar from white, to apple cider. This added just enough flavor that the cookies were delicious on their own, but weren’t too much that they fought for dominance when frosted!
The second roadblock I ran into was leavening. Vegan ‘egg’ replacements abound, but I wanted something quick and easy that we all have in our cupboards already. I tried just baking powder and just baking soda, but neither of those did much on their own. Taking a cue from pie crust I added a splash of vinegar to the cookies, which reacted to the baking soda and caused a bit of lift. When I also upped the amount of almond milk the water in that started to react with the baking powder, creating a cookie that was slightly puffed, but not too much that it lost it’s shape.
Make sure that you melt your coconut oil before combining it. I made the mistake of blending it in when it was just room temperature, and it created a pockmarked surface on the cookies that was very difficult to frost! Coconut oil tends to get little lumps in it that are nearly impossible to stir in when it’s room temperature. If you melt if first it will blend in more evenly and won’t mar the surface of the cookie half as badly! (plus it will just be much easier to work with in general!) Also, on that note, don’t skimp on the refrigeration! Coconut oil is a liquid at a much lower temp than butter, so it’s important to keep the dough cold so that you can work with it, and give it a brief freeze before cooking so that the cookies hold their shape.
The frosting recipe makes enough to fully frost all the cookies, I only drizzled it on and had a lot leftover. If you’re only planning on drizzling as well, you can halve it and will have just the right amount! 🙂 I actually used little slices of beets which I vigorously stirred with the icing to die it the light shades of pink. Of course red food coloring works great too, but if you’re feeling adventurous, try a slice of beet! I promise the look on people’s faces when you tell them they’re cookie has beets in the frosting (after they’ve eaten 12 of course) will be priceless!
I hope you enjoy these cookies. With the techniques I’ve learned developing this recipe I’m excited to try my hand at more vegan baking! (Southern biscuits -minus the artery-clogging bucket of lard come to mind right away!) Let me know if anyone has suggestions for what to vegan-ize next!
A simple pink, red and white glazed sugar cookie
- 3 1/2 Cups Confectioner's Sugar, sifted
- 4 Tbsp Almond Milk, Plain
- 2 Tbsp Corn Syrup, light
- Red Food Coloring
- 2 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
- 3/4 tsp Baking Soda
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/2 Cup Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil, melted
- 2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/2 Cup Almond Milk
- 1.5 tsp Vanilla Extract
Whisk together the sifted sugar and milk until smooth.
Drizzle in the corn syrup while you continue to whisk. The mixture will become thick and glossy. Add another Tbsp of almond milk if necessary to adjust consistency.
Separate the icing into three bowls, add 1 drop of red food coloring to one bowl to make a light pink and two or three drops to another bowl to make a darker red color.
Scoop the icing into three separate baggies for piping. I just use a Ziploc and then cut off the corner when it comes time to pipe.
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the softened oil and sugar until well combined. Pour in the remaining wet ingredients and stir until well combined.
Gradually add the flour in three batches, stirring until just combined each time. Divide dough into 2 mostly equal sections. Turn the dough pieces out onto large pieces of plastic, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for one hour.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Adjust oven racks to upper middle and lower middle positions.
Preheat oven to 325. Remove dough from fridge. Working with one section of dough at a time, roll to a 1/4" thick sheet on a well floured counter. Cut out cookies and carefully transfer to prepared pans, leaving about 1/2" in between cookies. Transfer filled pans to freezer while you continue to roll and cut dough.
Freeze pans of cookies for about 10mn. Remove from freezer and transfer pans to oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes (will depend on how large your cutouts are) or until lightly golden brown and just set in the center. Rest on pan for 5mn before transferring to wire rack.
Continue freezing and baking method with additional dough, rolling leftovers up and re-rolling/chilling as necessary until you've used up as much dough as possible. Try not to incorporate more flour into the dough than you absolutely have to.
After cookies have all fully cooled use the three bags of icing that you have prepared to pipe colorful designs over the cookies. Let the icing harden and enjoy!