Recipe: Soft vegan gingerbread cookies with naturally colored icing.
Suitable for: Vegans and everyone else.
Makes: 55 cookies or about 4.5 dozen - depending on how large you make your cookies.
These gingerbread cookies are vegan, gorgeous in color and stay soft. I'm not a fan of crispy gingerbread cookies, but if you roll your dough thinner, you can use this recipe to make crispy gingerbread. If you make them how I do (shown below) you'll get great, softer, more chewy cookies.
This dough is also extremely easy to work with and won't go stiff or sticky on you.
- These are soft gingerbread cookies so you MUST cool them 100% before you stack or decorate them or they will bend.
- These can be glazed (see glaze recipe here) but they don't hold glaze as well as other cookies because they're soft.
- Because they're soft, they're a little more fragile than some other gingerbread cookies, so be careful while handling cut out cookie shapes.
- 3 cups all-purpose organic flour. I usually use Bob's Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour.
- 3/4 packed cup organic brown sugar.
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 + 1/2 sticks (or 3/4 cup) organic vegan butter, slightly softened.
- 3/4 cup Fair Trade, organic molasses. I use Wholesomes Sweetners – Organic Molasses.
- 2 tablespoons organic alternative milk. Use any kind you like - I used organic vanilla soy milk.
- 1 teaspoon organic extract. I usually use vanilla extract, but to spice it up you can use orange or almond too - both work well. I also try to use Fair Trade if I use vanilla. Today I ran out, so had to use up my old non-Fair Trade vanilla though.
You'll also need... Spices of your choice.
You can use the spices below as posted (which is what I used) or adjust them to your taste. Spices are a very personal choice and some people like super spicy gingerbread, while some (like me) don't. The spices I posted below result in a nice balanced gingerbread flavor, but with less bite. If you like spicy gingerbread, add more spices.
- 1 tablespoon ground organic cinnamon
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoon ground organic ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground organic cloves
- Dash of organic nutmeg
Traditional gingerbread-minded spices that I don’t use, but that you might like, include: anise seed, coriander, cardamom, fennel seed, star anise and ground black pepper.
Making your cookies
- Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and spices in a large bowl.
- Add your brown sugar to your dry mix and blend until well combined.
- Toss your softened butter into the flour mixture and cut the butter in with a pastry cutter until it resembles small shreds or balls.
- In a small bowl whisk your molasses, extract and milk together, then mix the molasses mixture into the flour mixture using a tough wooden spoon until well combined.
- Chill for a bit if you like. I don't like working with stiff dough, so I didn't chill mine long - like 10 mins.
Cutting your cookies out
- Grab a third of the dough and pat it into a ball onto a piece of unbleached parchment paper. Do not flour your parchment, because this dough is so amazing, it won't stick and extra flour just makes for tougher cookies.
- If you want nice soft, chewy cookies, roll your dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness. For crisper cookies, roll the dough thinner. For super soft cookies, roll the dough even thicker.
- Cut shapes into your dough with holiday cookie cutters. Once you’ve used cut as many cookies as you can, peel away the excess dough, so you’re left with just cookie cut outs on your parchment (as shown below).
Transferring your cookies - VERY important step
- Remember, this dough is extremely soft, so transferring the cookies to a cookie sheet can be a bit tricky. If you use a spatula to transfer them, you're gonna lose some cookies in the process. What I do is pick up the whole darn piece of parchment (cookies and all) carefully and place in on a cookie sheet.
Baking and cooling
- Bake at 350 degrees for no longer than 6 to 7 minutes. The cookies will look a little undone and puffy when you take them out, but they'll finish setting up and will flatten out on the hot pan once out of the oven.
- As soon as your cookies cool a bit (3 minutes) transfer them carefully from the hot pan onto a cooling rack.
- Cool 100% before decorating.
Basic vanilla cookie frosting
- Whip 1/3 cup vegan butter with a hand mixer until creamy.
- Mix in 2 cups organic powdered sugar.
- Add a dash of organic, Fair Trade vanilla extract or other extract flavor of choice and 1/4 cup of organic milk alternative.
- Add another 2 and 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.
- Mix everything with a small hand mixer until creamy smooth and well combined. You can mix by hand with a wooden spoon, but it's going to take a lot longer.
If your frosting seems too thick you can add a bit more non-dairy milk. If for some reason it's too watery, add more powdered sugar.
If you want to make flavored frosting, use the vanilla extract and sub in 1/4 cup fresh organic orange juice + 1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel for the milk. This makes a nice orange flavored frosting, which goes well with gingerbread.
This frosting can be spread on cookies or piped on with a reusable pastry bag for design work.
To color your frosting naturally use a good natural food dye like Chocolate Craft colors. I used Chocolate Craft to make the colors you see above. Except the green. Green frosting is VERY hard to make right with natural food dye. So, I used organic green tea powder to color this frosting.
If you want to add some sparkle, India Tree makes a bunch of food-coloring free, vegan, naturally colored sugar sparkles and other baking decor items. Go to the VeggieBoards review area, click on Baking Supplies then look for India Tree products.