Orange-scented Sugar Cookies

Orange-Scented Sugar Cookie Cutouts

The sugar cookie is the ultimate holiday cookie – it’s timeless, and traditional. We made sugar cookies for Christmas almost every year during my childhood. Usually, only half the batch would turn out edible. For some reason, sugar cookies are tricky cookies. The dough must be perfect: not too wet, nor too dry; and bake them a second too long and they will be too well done. I’ve finally made the best sugar cookie (and they’re vegan)! These cookies are really good. A subtle taste of orange, a perfect balance of vanilla and sugar. The icing is a vegan royal icing that dries hard, which makes them perfect for stacking and gift-giving.

I made them to take with to a holiday party, but I’m sure Santa would love them if you made them, and left them out for him on Christmas Eve.

Orange-Scented Sugar Cookie Cutouts

A few things I’ve learned about making sugar cookies: 1. Always use parchment paper (for all cookies really). You won’t have to grease your pan, saving you product, energy and clean-up. 2. Have lots of patience. Don’t plan on making the cookies in 30 minutes. You will need to make the dough, chill it, roll it, cut it, bake it, and let the cookies cool before you decorate them. 3. Have fun with your decorations. I’ve always been a messy-kind-of artist at most of my crafts (and food is no exception).

Vegan Sugar Cookie Cutouts

I made these cookies while my son was sleeping, and while I was icing them, I kept imagining us making and decorating sugar cookies together next year. The baby stage was a lot of fun, and toddlerhood is so-far-so good. I can’t wait to teach him how to bake and make cookies; and all the other things we will do together.

stack2textVegan Sugar Cookie Cutouts

Orange-scented Sugar Cookie Cutouts
makes about 40-cookies

6 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegan butter (I used earth balance), at room temperature
1 cup vegan shortening (I used earth balance), at room temperature
2 cups natural cane sugar
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
6 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
grated zest from 1 organic orange

In a small bowl, mix together the flaxseed meal with the water, put in the refrigerator for at least 5 minutes until ready to use. In a large bowl, or with a stand-mixer, cream together the vegan butter, shortening and sugar for about 5 minutes, until fluffy. Add the flax mixture and whip until pale and fluffy. Next add the vanilla and orange zest. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt until combined. Slowly add the flour to the wet mixture cup-by-cup, mixing gently (towards the end, I used my hands to knead together the dough). Divide the dough into 4 balls, flatten into discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill dough in the fridge for at least 45 minutes to overnight (you can also freeze the dough at this point).

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Place parchment on 2 (to 4) large baking trays. Flour a clean surface and a rolling-pin. Unwrap one of the dough discs, and with a floured rolling-pin, roll it out flat, about 1/4 inch thick or so. Use cookie cutters to make shapes. Use a floured, flat metal spatula to transfer cookie cutouts to a parchment lined baking tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes (my cookies were perfect at 13 minutes). Allow cookies to cool completely before icing and decorating them.

Vegan Royal Icing Recipe
this icing dries hard and glossy, for a lovely and stackable decorated holiday cookie.

2 cups powdered sugar
4-6 teaspoons vanilla soy (or almond) milk
4-6 teaspoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
natural food colorings (optional)

In a bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and soymilk until smooth. Then add the corn syrup and extracts until the icing is smooth and glossy. If the icing is too thick, add a little more soymilk and corn syrup (1/2 teaspoon at a time). Divide icing into smaller bowls, and dye with food coloring if using. Paint icing on cookies (I used the flat end of a fork to spread the icing on) and add sprinkles when icing is still wet. Allow icing to dry for at least 1 hour before stacking or storing.

Vegan Sugar Cookie Cutouts

Make these holiday cookies to share at a holiday party! They go great with a cold mug o’ Nog -or- (as I enjoyed them) with a glass of Moscato.

Vegan Sugar Cookie Cutouts

Happy Holiday Baking to All!

Vegan Sugar Cookie Cutouts

Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf Cakes

Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf Cakes

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I’m back with what may very well be my last pumpkin recipe post of the season. I had the pleasure of attending two Thanksgiving dinners this year, which I of course made desserts. For the first dinner, I made a sweet Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Citrus Disaronno Buttercream. For the second dinner, I made very delicious Sweet Potato Cupcakes topped with vegan marshmallows and vanilla glaze and also a fabulous double-layer pumpkin cheesecake. Since I buy my pumpkin puree in bulk, I had lots of it leftover from the cheesecake, and I needed to make something with it. The result: this Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf. It’s also made with fresh, prepared cranberries, but you could use dried cranberries, or fresh, chopped cranberries too.

Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf Cakes

This cake would be really good topped with a spiced orange icing, which you could easily whip up by following a basic vegan vanilla icing recipe, and adding some nutmeg and orange zest. But even without an icing, this cake is delicious. Not too sweet, very moist, tangy and subtly spiced. If you have them, throw a handful of chopped pecans in with the cranberries. I would also serve this cake with hot tea or coffee, for brunch or dessert.

Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf Cakes

Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf Cakes
makes 4 mini or 2 regular size loaf cakes

2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup non-gmo canola oil
1/4 cup almond milk
2 cups natural cane sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup fresh, prepared cranberries (or raw, chopped cranberries; or dried cranberries)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Lightly grease 4 mini or 2 regular size loaf pans. In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, oil, almond milk, sugar and vanilla. separately, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Gently combine the dry ingredients into the wet, when mixture comes together, add the cranberries, being careful not to over-mix. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans, half-full. Bake in oven for 50-60 minutes, until a knife inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing and serving.

Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf Cakes

Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf Cakes

Make this bread to share for the holidays! Enjoy!