I’m not actually a huge fan of traditional sugar cookies. I find that they have a weird taste to them, like they’re missing something. It’s not just that I make them with margarine instead of butter, either, as I didn’t really like them before I went vegan. I always felt that was a bit of a shame, as I really do like how pretty sugar cookies can be, iced and decorated.
However, these cookies are different, as they contain a magical ingredient: cocoa.
Cocoa makes the cookies dark and chocolate-flavoured, which not only provides a beautiful backdrop for both coloured and crisp white icing, but provides a slightly bitter contrast to the one-note sweetness of royal icing. I got the cookie recipe from Baking a Moment, and veganized it.
First batch on the left, second on the right. Sorry about poor photo quality – I had fried the camera battery on vacation and for the last month only took pictures on my phone.
I’ve included our vegan royal icing recipe here too, as we first started experimenting with vegan royal icing a few years ago at our annual gingerbread house party. I can say that this recipe works well as construction-grade cement, but when thinned out works nicely for piping on and flooding cookies. The consistency of the icing is varied by how much water is added, so start on the lower and and add a few drops at a time to get the texture you’d like. Keep in mind that wetter icing can take longer to dry – my first attempt at flooded icing took several days to not be soft under the top “crust” of the icing.
Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Veganized from Baking a Moment
EDIT: I corrected the volume for corn starch. I hope it didn’t cause anyone a headache!!
Makes 3 dozen 2-inch cutouts
- 1/2 cup Earth Balance or other baking margarine
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 tsp psyllium powder – I use an unflavored version of Metamucil powder
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Cream margarine in a a stand mixer, then add canola oil and sugar and stir until combined, but not fluffy (see the original recipe for more details on why – basically so that it doesn’t spread).
- In a cup, gradually add water to psyllium husk, and whisk until it starts to thicken. Add in vanilla and salt.
- Add liquid mixture to margarine mixture, scraping all of the liquid out of the cup.
- Stir on medium speed until combined.
- Add in cornstarch and cocoa and stir a few seconds.
- Add in all the flour and mix until dough is homogeneous.
- Take 1/4 of the dough and place it on a shed of parchment paper. Place another on top, and roll until dough is 1/4-inch thick.
- Remove top sheet of paper, and cut out shapes. Use a paring knife to pick the scraps out from between the cutouts.
- Place paper full of cutouts on a baking sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes, until firm at the edges and soft in the middle.
- Remove cookie sheet from oven, and wait 1 minute before transferring cookies to a wire rack.
- If using the cookie sheet immediately, wave it around the kitchen like a goof for a minute to cool it off.
- The dough scraps can be re-rolled again a few times until it’s all used up.
- Let cookies cool fully (at least an hour) before decorating with icing.
Vegan Royal Icing
An original recipe from Agent Minty
Makes about 1 1/4 cups of royal icing (enough for 3 or 4 dozen cookies)
- 2 1/4 cups icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp Xantham gum (available in gluten-free sections of the grocery store)
- 1 Tbsp corn starch
- 2 1/2 to 3 Tbsp water, divided
- 1/8 tsp vanilla extract (white extract is best but usually found at baking supply stores)
- Whisk together sugar, Xantham gum, and corn starch in a large bowl.
- Start hand mixer or whisk attachment of your stand mixer. I find a hand mixer with the two beaters works better here unless I’m doubling or tripling a batch.
- Slowly add 2 Tbsp of the water, followed by vanilla extract. Continue beating until all of the sugar is mostly mixed in.
- Stop to scrape down sides of bowl, and mix for a few more seconds.
- Assess the consistency of the icing – do you really want it thinner?
- Add more water in small amounts until icing is the consistency you desire.
- Colour if you would like, and immediately cover up any portions you’re not going to use.
- If you don’t have someone to help you fill a piping bag (if you’re going to use one), I’d highly recommend the plastic wrap trick.