I love cookies! After watching the cookie swap recipes over the last couple of weeks, I thought I might share my holiday cookie “tradition.” As a vegan it can be hard to do something like a cookie swap, because most of the people I know are not vegan, and while they can eat my cookies, I can’t eat theirs.
It’s okay though, because the holidays are about sharing, not getting something in return. In that vein, for the last several years I’ve been spending my Decembers making lots of cookies for the holidays, and sharing them with friends, coworkers and family!
So what’s special about cookies that makes them typically not vegan? I’m guessing most of you have figured out it’s the dairy, be it butter, milk, cream, or chocolate containing dairy, as well as eggs. There’s a few other things to look out for: sugar can sometimes be an issue, easily avoided if you stick with unbleached cane sugar. Add-ins are another thing watch out for; aside from dairy and egg, you’ll need to watch out for things like gelatin, food coloring and confectioner’s glaze. I know all that can sound complicated, but it’s easy to avoid once you start reading labels!
Although I love to bake cookies, I’m not much of a baker in general, so I don’t come up with a lot of my own recipes. I personally get most of my cookie recipes from two different vegan cookbooks: Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur. But let’s say you have a favorite cookie recipe that you want to veganize. Where to start?
Dairy is usually much easier to substitute in a cookie recipe. Soy milk replaces regular milk, vegan margarine replaces butter. If you need a “buttermilk” substitute, 1 cup of soy milk (or another non-dairy milk) mixed with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and left to sit for about 5 minutes with typically do the trick.
Eggs are trickier. You will have to figure out what the eggs are contributing to in the recipe in order to replace them. If I’m making a recipe that should turn out crispy or chewy, I’m a big fan of using flax seed as an egg replacer; one tbs of ground flax mixed with 3 tbs warm water and left to sit for about 5 minutes makes a great egg substitute. Commercial egg replacer such as Ener-G also works well, particularly for a softer, fluffier cookie. Most often though, the recipes I use from the two aforementioned books use corn starch or tapioca starch as their egg replacer. They may also adjust the amount of baking powder to help with leavening.
The result? When I bring in cookies, they are always well received. Most people only know they’re vegan because I brought them in. So if you’re thinking you’d like to make some vegan cookies this year, I say do it!
Check out my recipe for Glazed Port Wine Biscuits!