I have always loved making cut-out cookies...so much fun to bring little critters to life on the cookie sheet ! But man, the whole race to get the dough rolled out and onto the pan always took some of the fun out of it, and I'd kind of quit making them. Using oil makes a much more forgiving, flexible dough. Scraps can be mashed together and rolled back out, or tossed in the freezer for another day.
Here's a rundown on some cut-out recipes and how i made the Bears in the picture :)
Vanilla Sugar Cookie Cut-outs :
I've been playing with this recipe for basic Vanilla Sugar Cookies for years...I'm not sure who originated it, but there are versions of it on the net. These have a little different texture from the ones made from butter ( vegan or not ) ...they have a nice chewiness to them, and if you bake them till they are lightly browned, a crispy chewiness. And they are not too sweet...perfect for slathering on lots of super sweet icing ! Change out the extracts to make it a lemon cookie ( add some fresh lemon zest too !) , almond or stick with vanilla.
2 cups flour ( try using half whole wheat pastry flour )
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup applesauce ( baby applesauce works great here...super smooth texture ! )
1/2 cup organic canola oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract ( or 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 teaspoon lemon extract; or 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract )
Zest of one lemon ( if making lemon cookies )
Preheat oven to 350. Oil two cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. Sift together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk together well the wet ingredients and then add to the dry ingredients, mixing well. If too crumbly, add a tiny bit of water. If too wet, add a bit of flour.
Gather dough up and pat out into a circle, cover tightly, and chill for an hour or a few days. When ready to bake, roll dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut your shapes, keeping the dough about 1/8 thickness. Transfer them to the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 8-12 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your cookies and the accuracy of your oven. Dont overbake ! They are done with the edges just start to get brown....a little longer for extra crispy :)
Chocolate Cut-out Cookies:
Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar is such a great cookie resource...so many recipes ( their Brownie recipe is my standard now ) and baking tips... you should buy it ! The Chocolate Cookie recipe is fantastic...super easy to mix up and the dough is nice to work with and very chocolatey. Worth the price of the book, all by itself ! The pictures above are of some bears I made using the recipe from VCIYCJ. They look a little rough, and that's from using a paper template to cut around...still thinking about exactly what size to make the actual cookie cutter. The chocolate icing ( which also makes a nice easy syrup for ice cream, or just something chocolatey to eat from a spoon...) I spread on the bears dries to a hard matte finish after a few hours ( may take longer to firm up in higher humidity ) and goes like this:
Chocolate Bear Icing:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons water
Mix together the sugar and cocoa and salt in a small bowl or cup, distributing the cocoa throughout. Add the vanilla, then 2 tablespoons of the water and stir,stir,stir, mashing the mixture against the sides of the bowl or cup to break up the dry lumps of the sugar and the cocoa. Only add tiny bits of extra water as needed...it can change from perfect consistency to too thin in seconds. If that happens, just add a little more powdered sugar. Mix till very smooth. Cover with a sheet of plastic to keep it from drying out. This is good for spreading with an offset spatula or dipping, but if you make it a little thicker, you could pipe it from a pastry bag for simple lines and writing. Makes about 1/2 cup. Will keep a few days in the fridge, tightly covered.
The bears were decorated after cooling completely. First I iced them using a small offset spatula ( but could have dipped ) and while the icing was still wet, I added toasted almond slices for the tan muzzles and mini chocolate chips ( Enjoy Life brand has some tiny ones ) eyes and another mini chip for the nose, using a little dab of the icing for nose cement to stick it to the muzzle.
Our Black Bears here in Boulder have had a rough year. Four have been shot and killed, just since May, for making a habit out of eating our trash. A mother bear with two dependent cubs was one of the victims. Her cubs were shipped off to another county, left to feed and defend themselves in the wild, when possibly all they have known is the easy pickings from us lazy, wasteful humans. Adult black bears in the fall need a whopping 20,000 calories a day to lay on the fat necessary to carry them through the winter while they hibernate. Read more about bears in Boulder at
the Boulder Bear Coalition. And if you live anywhere where bears might be eating your trash, please secure it from them...it may save their life.
I had previously blogged about making Bison with a wonderful Vegetarian Resource Group-based recipe for Gingerbread, and you can go straight to the recipe for it on my old blog, New Leaf Vegan.org.
Almond Star Cut-outs ( gluten-free):
This recipe for Almond Stars is SO good ! I found it on a website by a woman who lives in Utah and basically lives to climb...check out her website..pretty amazing person. And again, another super easy to make, featuring almond meal and coconut oil. They are gluten-free to boot. I've made them several times and really, they are addictive ! Good thing they are also fairly nourishing :) Of course you can use shapes other than stars, but dont make them too big, since this cookie is a bit fragile if made large.
Peanut Butter Cut-outs ( gluten-free):
I havent tried these yet, but plan on making them soon...dates and maple syrup are the sweeteners and there is oatmeal too...don't they sound devine ?