The holidays are a great excuse to make cookies. I don't make cookies that often for some reason and whenever I do make them I wonder why it's so infrequent. They're perfect little snacks for when you want just a little something or if you need something portable. And there really is no shortage of types.
During the holidays, I typically make sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies every year. I have such fond memories of going to my grandmother's house at Christmas and having her cookies. They were amazing. She would make sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, ranger cookies (think oatmeal cookies with raisins and chocolate chips) and jello cookies.
Okay, I know. That last one sounds really weird. There were these cookies she'd made that had a package of lemon jello in the dough. It sounds strange, but they were always my favorite. I've been trying for a few years to make a vegan equivalent but so far, I haven't had any luck. These were the kind of cookies that you need a cookie press for and then you'd sprinkle colored sugar on them before putting them in the oven. My favorite were always the wreath-shaped ones. They tasted a bit like shortbread, but with a nice tang of sweet lemon flavor. One of these days I'll figure out the secret and make cruelty-free versions of jello cookies every December like my grandmother used to.
Until I can get that worked out, I'll settle with making some other yummies like these chocolate sugar cookies. I got the recipe from the VegNews newsletter. I found the dough to be really, really dry and I had to add a lot of extra liquid so that I could even roll out the dough. If you make these, do it by the recipe and then at the end if your dough is super dry and crumbly like mine was, go ahead and add a bit of extra liquid until things are sticking together a bit better. I'd also suggest adding some more sugar. These weren't sweet at all, so calling them sugar cookies is a bit of a stretch. You really need the chocolate on top. I made a chocolate ganache by melting some bittersweet chocolate with a little bit of rice milk and spooning on top of the cookies. I wouldn't make these without doing that. They seem to need a bit of an extra punch.
Chocolate Sugar Cookies (from the VegNews Magazine Newsletter)
1-1/2 cups non-hydrogenated margarine
1 cup unbleached cane sugar
10 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon vanilla
4-1/2 cups unbleached flour
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
In a large bowl, beat together the margarine, sugar, water, and vanilla until light and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to form a smooth dough. Cover and chill for 1 hour or until firm. Divide the dough in half, work with one half at a time, and keep the remaining dough covered.
On a floured work surface, roll the dough out to desired thickness (1/8-inch for crispy cookies or 1/4-inch for soft), cut into shapes with a knife or cookie cutters, and carefully transfer the cookies with a spatula to ungreased cookie sheets. (I lined my cookie sheets with parchment paper so the cookies wouldn't stick.)
Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Allow cookies to cool slightly before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Cover in melted chocolate or some kind of icing.