It all started when I reached out to Linz Real Estate. I saw they had posted something on their Facebook page about treats so I asked see if they were interested in offering cookies as open house favors. “Sure I’d love to try some samples!” Lindsay replied. The first round of sugar cookies were lovely and delicious, but she and her mom (Linz Real Estate is a local mother/daughter duo) were a little concerned that they could be too sweet. Would spice work? Lindsay’s dad and sister are vegan so they asked if the cookies could be made vegan. My next step would be to work on a vegan gingerbread cookie recipe!
They had selected a design from my several choices, so for this round I worked with that design and went for vegan. Some things can be tricky with vegan cookies. Most cookie recipes need an egg substitute of some sort and because these cookies would be individually packaged, I needed a sturdy icing that would dry hard. Royal is the typical icing for that, but it contains meringue powder or egg whites, so we’d need to find an alternative.
My Mom gave me a great cookbook from Toba Garrett called Creative Cookies. Okay, well, actually it was hers and I borrowed it FOREVER. It now it lives at my house unless she needs it for something. Toba has a great gingerbread recipe in her book that doesn’t call for eggs. It does call for butter and whole milk and requires chilling time before rolling out.
As a child the chilling time was my deal breaker for cookies. I have sad memories of trying to roll out the super cold dough, watching it crack and quickly giving up to make my mom do the rolling. I was always at the ready with the cutter. Because of chilled dough, I grew up thinking I could never make cookies without help! So, it would be important to make the final recipe one that didn’t require chilling.
First, I baked the recipe as written. I needed to taste it and see how it worked. Yes, you must chill the dough. No, I don’t want to do that. Yes, they are delicious! We have a starting point.
I replaced the butter with spectrum organic shortening and I replaced the milk with water. I could use almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, rice milk, hemp milk etc I reasoned. However, since we were making it vegan I decided that it should be allergy friendly. The dough works very well with water and this doesn’t add an allergen. First, I made it with the amount of liquid originally called for, and then I realized that this was the variable to change to remove the need to chill the dough. The only reason it was calling for chilling was because of the high moisture content in the dough.
Viola, we have vegan gingerbread cookies!
Watch the video
Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
|Prep:||Cook:||Yield: 24 medium sized cookies||Total:|
This recipe is delicious, easy and fun to make! The cookies taste fabulous and you'd never know they are vegan. Recipe is adapted from Toba Garrett's spice cookies in her book, Decorated Cookies.
- 140 grams shortening
- 75 grams sugar
- 40 grams brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 cup non dairy milk or your choice, or water
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 325 grams all purpose flour, plus extra flour for rolling
- Measure shortening, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl. You can tare the scale between each addition to make adding items quicker.[COMBINE]
- Cream well.[BEAT]
- Add the molasses, creaming until the mixture is very light and fluffy.[ADD]
- Add the flour and mix until combined, adding the liquid last. Keep blending until the dough forms into a cohesive mass.[BLEND]
- Roll out immediately, no chilling required.[ROLL]
- Bake at 350 (325 convection) for 10 minutes.[BAKE]
This dough rolls out very nicely right after you make it. The trick is to keep the moisture content low, so add just enough liquid that the dough binds together. Too much and you'll need to chill the dough to make it workable.
Vegan Royal Icing
To frost these cookies, I use both a vegan royal icing that dries hard and vegan fondant for a perfect house outline. Thank you to Happy Food Healthy Life by Holly Waterfall for the vegan royal icing recipe. View her royal icing recipe. I love that this icing dries exactly the way regular royal icing dries. There are many egg-white free royal icing recipes out there that will eventually dry, but not quickly and not well enough for individual packaging. I do think that this icing is challenging to work with, so I don’t use it for flooding. It is also very stretchy, making lettering challenging. Working with it will improve your skills quickly though, so when you go back to working with regular royal icing you will feel like it works like a dream!
I hope you have fun making these vegan gingerbread cookies! If you do make them, I’d love to hear how they work out for you.