Christmas has come and gone. Time moves at a quick clip when you're an adult. I could wander down a path of pondering the speed of time but I would lose the point of this post.
And that point is that our Christmas was wonderful. How was yours? I can only hope you had the same love filling up your wine glasses and stockings. I spent the days leading up to Christmas baking sugar cookies (we will come back to these), picking out last minute gifts, and preparing a fancy Christmas Eve dinner. The presents we gave ended up hitting all of the right notes; there were a smattering of thoughtfully handmade pieces from Etsy, a few items I had remembered my family members mentioning in passing, and framed photos of Melissa for our parents and my grandparents.
Oh, and the gifts given to us? Wow. Just wow. You who gave gifts to us--you really love us. Cooking ware, entertaining pieces, new clothes, camera accessories, gift cards, red lipstick (for me) and a brand new turn table (for Tim). As I type this, I'm listening to Tom Waits' album The Heart of Saturday Night. It's one of my favorites and it gives me a feeling that listening to an MP3 just can't deliver.
Our tree may only last a few more days in the living room as I've started to tackle some of our holiday clutter. Putting things back in their rightful place seems the only way to master untidy accumulations and so the tree may go back into its box sooner than later. These Christmas cookies may be the last holiday item to go if I can make them last that long--and that is proving difficult.
I assumed I would be able to make some baked goods to meet my allergists' restrictions, but I didn't think it would be this simple. I happened upon a sugar cookie recipe that had already been adapted gluten free, and I only needed to swap a few additional ingredients to make it dairy free and egg free. I wasn't convinced it would work, but I loved making Christmas cookies last year and didn't want to go without.
Obviously, it worked. Texturally, these cookies were a little chewy with a nice light crumb. I made two batches with different gluten free flour mixes, and I much preferred the King Arthur Gluten Free flour blend though I don't think someone would notice the difference without being able to compare them side by side. Also, if kept in the refrigerator in a sealed container, these cookies can last up to a week, maybe two. I highly recommend making them in advance as they were even better on the second day.
Gluten Free, Vegan Sugar Cookies with Vegan Buttercream Frosting
cookie recipe adapted from Inner Circle Chic
frosting recipe adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
makes about 36 cookies
If you are not vegan or do not have egg and dairy food intolerances/allergies, you can use the same amounts of butter and egg as a substitute. You could also use Earth Balance's traditional soy-based spread instead of the soy-free spread. You can make similar substitutions in the frosting recipe. I cannot guarantee that the cookies will turn out exactly as well as mine did if you use a different gluten free flour blend as all flour blends are different.
Ingredients for the Cookies
3/4 cup Earth Balance soy-free spread
1 cup sugar
2 Ener-G eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups King Arthur Flour Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp xanthum gum
1 tsp fine salt
In the bowl of a upright mixer, combine Earth Balance, sugar, egg-replacer, and extract. Mix on medium speed until all ingredients are combined and the mixture is slightly fluffy. There may be small lumps of Earth Balance. If they are smaller than a pea, it's okay.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, gum, and salt. Add dry mixture to wet mixtuer and mix on low speed until well incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. If well covered, can be made a day in advance.
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove dough from refrigerator. Take a handful of the dough about the size of a baseball and making into a ball. Set the ball of dough on well-floured (with gluten free flour) surface. Return unused dough to the refrigerator. Roll out the dough so that it is between 1/4 inch and 1/8 inch thick. If dough is crumbly when you are rolling it out, just let it rest for a few minutes and then try again.
Cut dough into desired shapes using cookie cutters or biscuit cutters. (The amount of cookies this recipe makes will depend largely on the size of your cutters.) Place cut-out shapes onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 6-8 minutes until cookies are done. For a crisper cookie, bake an additional minute past when the cookies are cooked through. After removing cookies from the oven, allow to sit for at least five minutes on the cookie sheet before removing them to cool on a wire rack.
Repeat process until all dough is used. Cool cookies completely before icing. (Cookies can be frozen at this point although I personally did not test freezing and defrosting them.)
Ingredients for the Vegan Buttercream
1/2 cup Spectrum Organic Vegetable Shortening (soy-free)
1/2 cup Earth Balance soy-free spread
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 - 1/2 cup plain almond milk
Beat the shortening and Earth Balance together until fluffy. Add the confectioners sugar and beat for 3 more minutes. Add the vanilla and 1/4 cup almond milk and beat for another 5-7 minutes. If icing seems too thick, add more almond milk. Beware of the icing being too runny for piping onto cookies! If you add too much liquid, you can always add a little more powdered sugar to balance it out.
The frosting will be very light and fluffy. Chill the frosting for 1 hour before using. In a medium bowl, add some icing and desired food coloring and mix. Frosting will begin to slightly soften as you mix the color. Put frosting into a pastry bag or a zip-lock back with a snipped corner and decorating tip. Pipe onto cookies and decorate as you desire. Keep unused frosting in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Icing may seem soft but will firm up when refrigerated. Keep iced cookies in a cool place.
This frosting can also be used on cakes and cupcakes.