Sunday, December 18, 2011

C is for Cookie

Here is a nicely flavored golden cookie that I like to make for the holidays.  The cornmeal gives them a rich, almost buttery flavor, and keeps them crispy, not cake-like.

Vegan Crispy Cornmeal Sugar Cookies

Fresh baked Cornmeal Sugar Cookies

¾ cup flour (I used whole wheat pastry)
¼ cup cornmeal
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
a dash or two of nutmeg and/or cinnamon (optional)
1/6 cup oil  
1/6 cup soymilk
½ tsp lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla (or more)
¼ tsp almond extract (optional)
¼ tsp coconut extract (optional)
½ cup turbinado sugar

Whisk together dry ingredients. Mix together wet ingredients. To measure those awkward 1/6 cups, just fill a 1/3 cup measuring cup half full of the oil, then fill it the rest of the way with soymilk. Stir the wet mix into the dry mix. It may be helpful to use your hands. Form the stiff dough into a ball or disk.  If you wish, you can chill the dough at this point.  It’s not totally necessary but chilling will help prevent sticky dough. And the dough can be put back in the fridge for a few minutes anytime it starts getting obstreperous.

Rolling out the dough
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Roll out half the dough to a thickness of 1/8 to ¼ inch. Thicker will make softer cookies that may take longer to cook; thinner will make crunchier cookies that are more prone to burning. 

Cutting out the shapes
Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and transfer to a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake for about eight minutes.  They should look a little underdone.

While the first batch bakes, roll out the rest of the dough and finish cutting shapes.
Bake the second batch.  Roll out and shape any remaining dough and bake.

Makes 2 dozen medium size cookies

Decorating: You can frost these if you like, either simply or with elaborate piping and painting. Candies, sprinkles, nuts, or coconut can be placed on top before the frosting dries. You could also sprinkle the raw cookies with turbinado sugar or colored sugar sprinkles before baking. You can use a butter knife or similar implement to create grooves, patterns or other details in the raw cookies before baking.  Food coloring can also be added directly to the dough for tinted cookies. The last two options work well for sugar free cookies.
Frosted with sprinkles


Poppy seed: Add 1-2 tbsp poppy seeds to dry ingredients

Lemon or Lime: Replace extracts with up to a couple teaspoons of lemon or lime zest. You could also replace some or all of the soymilk with lemon juice.  If you want them nice and tangy you should also consider omitting the baking soda (because it cancels out acid) and increasing the baking powder to 1 ¼ tsp.

Stained Glass Cookies: Cut window holes in the middle of each cookie before baking, being sure to place cookies on foil or parchment paper.  Crush transparent colored hard candies, keeping colors separate. Halfway through baking, pull cookies out and fill cavities with crushed candies (1/2 to 1 tsp candy per cookie, depending on size of holes).  Return to oven and finish baking for 4 more minutes. Don’t try to remove the cookies until they’re cool, and do so somewhat gingerly with a spatula when they are ready.

Peppermint: Replace almond and coconut extracts with ½ tsp peppermint extract and decorate with crushed peppermint candies.

Sugar free: These do pretty well with sweetener; the cornmeal makes the texture more forgiving than most cookies. You may want to use slightly more equivalent sweetener than you would sugar to make up for the sweetness you won’t get from frosting or sprinkles (which are sugary).                                                                                                                                                                       

All packaged up and ready for gifting

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