Vegan Gluten Free Sugar Cookies with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting
I don’t usually go too heavy on the holiday spirit in the month of December. Not until the week before Christmas, really. The only real Christmas tradition my family has is this: do everything last minute. It’s the Shuman way. We always buy our tree within days of Christmas eve (and keep it up for the 12 days after Christmas). We buy presents in a flurry, wrap everything the night before, and then chill hard on Christmas day. Growing up my dad refused to listen to holiday music until the 19th of December, on principle. But this year is different. Everyone I know seems to be feeling the need for cheer. For a Winter season that sparks wonder. Or that at least is a welcome distraction from the suffering both abroad and at home. In the wake of the Paris attacks, the continuing situation in the middle east, the refugee crisis and more shootings here in the USA… I think we could all use some extra peace, joy, and good will towards men.
Or else we might stop believing that’s possible.
I’ve experienced more Christmas festivities in the past week than I usually do the whole season. I went caroling! I walked through a tacky trailer park Christmas lights display! I made sparkly vegan gluten free sugar cookies in the shapes of reindeer and snow foxes! And, to top it all off, I’m going to NYC this week to soak in some holiday glamour (and to eat all the food).
Logan and I take this trip every year. It’s our thing. It makes my insides melt with romantic squishy love feels. We always go eat doughnuts at Erin McKenna’s Bakery. Then we grab coffee and head towards central park. From there we mostly leave our trip up to the fates. Discovery is the spice of life and all that.
Vegan Gluten Free Sugar Cookies
I’ve been munching these vegan and gluten free sugar cookies with Logan and friends for the past week. Usually alongside steaming mugs of cashew maca hot chocolate. They garnered the approval of foodie peeps who don’t have eating restrictions. A major win! They’re my favorite style of sugar cookie: crisp and snappy with a super soft and sweet cream cheese frosting. And they’re made with coconut oil! Which makes them a solid option for a healthy holiday. (Or any day of the week… Mondays deserve sugar cookies too.)
I’ve made a very simple vanilla version here. But you could easily make them in any flavor combination!
You might try:
peppermint (add 1/4 tsp peppermint extract or a couple drops of food grade peppermint essential oil to the frosting)
chocolate (add 4 tablespoons cocoa powder to the flour and add 1/4 cup melted chocolate to the frosting)
lemon cardamom (add 1 tablespoon meyer lemon zest + 1 teaspoon ground cardamom to the sugar and rub the sugar between your hands before adding the sugar to the dry mix. Add 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest to the frosting before blending)
eggnog (add 1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg + 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the dry mix. Add 1 teaspoon rum along with the wet ingredients. Grate fresh nutmeg over the frosted cookies at the end.)
Note: The cookies require solid coconut oil. And the frosting requires melted coconut oil. For this reason I suggest making the cookie dough first and then making the frosting (you’ll frost the cookies the next day). Otherwise! You can make the frosting ahead of time (the frosting keeps, refrigerated, for up to a month so you can make it way ahead of time). That way you can bake and frost all at once.
Vegan Gluten Free Sugar Cookies
Renee Shuman (Will Frolic for Food)
1 hour 5 mins
These cut out sugar cookies are easy, crisp and sweet. And perfectly healthy! Made with coconut oil and coconut sugar, they're great for maintaining sustained energy. And they're low glycemic to boot!
- 3/4 cup (130g) brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup (90g) sorghum flour
- 1/2 cup (90g) sweet rice (mochiko) flour
- 1/4 cup (40g) arrowroot
- 3/4 cup (140 g) coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoons whole or powdered psyllium husk*
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 8 tablespoons solid coconut oil
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- cashew cream cheese frosting
- vegan sprinkles / decorating sugar, as you like
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: brown rice flour, sorghum flour, sweet rice flour, arrowroot, coconut sugar, psyllium, and baking powder. Make a well in the center of the dry mix. Add the coconut oil, apple sauce and vanilla extract. Begin to mix everything with your hands (a pastry cutter works well too) until the dough looks like wet sand. At this point you want to begin kneading the dough like bread for 30-45 seconds until the dough comes together into a smooth, slightly glossy ball. Shape into a ball, cover your bowl with a linen or kitchen towel, and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.** While the dough is cooling, line a workstation with parchment paper. Dust the parchment lightly with brown rice or sorghum flour.
- Once cooled, remove the dough ball from the fridge. Separate the dough into two halves. Place the first half onto your flour dusted parchment paper. Top with a second sheet of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to 1/2" thickness. Remove the top piece of parchment paper. Working quickly, cut out shapes as you like (rounded shapes are the easiest to remove). Place the cookies about 1/2 inch apart on your baking sheet. Press the dough scraps back together and continue rolling out and cutting out cookies from the scraps (don't worry about overworking the dough, this isn't an issue with gf baking).
- Bake each tray of cookies for 10 minutes on the center rack, until golden. Remove and let each tray cool 10 minutes before handling (or eating!). Continue this process with the second half of the dough. Let cool completely before frosting and (optionally) topping with sprinkles or decorating sugar. Refrigerate frosted cookies until ready to serve / eat.
Note: If you prefer a more classic sugar cookie flavor, sub 3/4 cup evaporated cane sugar for the coconut sugar.
*You could also sub 2 teaspoons powdered chia for the psyllium husk. Grind whole chia in a high powered blender or coffee grinder until fine.
**If your coconut oil was quite cool and firm to start, you may need less refrigeration before rolling out. Whereas if your coconut oil was warmer you may need more refrigeration. The trick is to end up with a semi-firm dough ball that stays somewhat firm while rolling out and cutting.
Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting
Author: Renee Shuman (Will Frolic for Food)
Serves: 2.5 cups
This frosting is my go-to for cookies and cakes. You can simply spread it over your cookies with a spoon or spatula. Or pipe it into a variety of shapes using a pastry bag. It can even be used to pipe lettering onto cakes! If you don't have a high powered blender (Nutribullet, Vitamix, etc.), see notes. Also see notes for natural coloring suggestions.
- 1 & 1/3 cup cashew pieces
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 6 tablespoons coconut cream (scooped from the top of a chilled can of full fat coconut milk)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons maple syrup
- Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a high powered blender: cashew pieces, coconut oil, coconut cream, vanilla extract and maple syrup. Blend on high until completely smooth and creamy (my NutriBullet takes about 30 seconds). Refrigerate for a minimum of 8 hours, overnight for best results. (I admit I sometimes just dip my cookies in the warm frosting because I'm impatient like that. BUT you need to refrigerate it for that perfect, thick texture). Once cool: frost, spoon, spread, pipe onto your cookies, cakes, the works!
[i]Don't have a high powered blender?[/i] No problem! To get the smooth texture in the icing, you have two options. 1. Quick and dirty: simmer the cashews for 30 minutes, until softened. Then continue with the recipe as written. OR, 2. Totally raw: soak the cashews in water 8 hours up to overnight before blending. Then continue with the recipe as written.[br]Natural coloring: In the past I've used India Tree natural food coloring. But I don't much like the quality. The best, most potent colors come from dried fruit and veg powders. Aka pomegranate powder or beet powder (deep red), acai or blueberry powder (deep purple), spinach powder (green), turmeric (yellow). For blue I've read that a pinch of baking powder will take a purple dye to powder blue. Try it out and let me know what you think!