Wednesday, September 14, 2011

so you can take that cookie

I've been trying to find a good dairy-free sugar cookie recipe so that T's birthday party guests can decorate them.  Because what's better than a bunch of 2 year olds with access to icing and sprinkles?

T's first masterpiece
I was pretty stoked to find a recipe that wasn't vegan as T isn't allergic to eggs, and I figured that would be closer to the real thing.  Unfortunately, those cookies, while pretty, were dry, not very sweet, and doughy in an unpleasant way.  Not that it stopped us from eating all of them.  Sigh.  On the bright side, this was T's first baking experience, and she loved it.

So I needed to try another alternative.  I found several recipes online for vegan sugar cookies.  I know, that just sounds awful, doesn't it?  But this one seemed like it stood a fighting chance because it uses Earth Balance spread in place of butter.  Earth Balance actually tastes a lot like butter to me, and more importantly, has the *texture* of butter.  I needed to bake a test run to make sure they'd work for the party.  (Ah, the sacrifices we make for our kids!)

Unfortunately, this recipe wasn't perfect either.  The dough was way too fragile - it was fluffy and hard to work with because it didn't hold its shape very well.  I think that might have been because it needed a bit more flour, so next time I'll increase it by 1/2c or so and see if that fixes it.  I did notice that leaving the dough out at room temperature for a longer time made it slightly easier to work with, as did re-rerolling the scraps.  I'm guessing that's because I use a lot of flour while rolling and cutting our the shapes.

After baking these, the cookies were pretty good - maybe a touch too sweet for my liking but much better than the first batch.  TJ thought they were too lemony so I'll cut down on the extract next time.   Since the dough was so soft and pliable, the cookies oozed a little more than I was happy with.  I like sugar cookies to have nice sharp well-defined edges.

I haven't iced cookies in my adult life, since I'm not a fan of frosting.  But you can't do cookie decorating without a nice royal icing to go with it.  Since raw egg whites make me a little nervous, I used the vegan recipe on Chez Bettay's site.  It was super-easy to make, and I even divided it up to make different colors.  I let T choose two colors.  She chose pink and blue.

This was my first time working with gel food coloring, and holy poo, am I impressed!  I bought these so I
could tint cupcake frosting, plus those little tiny pointy egg-shaped liquid bottles at the grocery always annoy me because they're so freakin' messy. 

First, be it known that A LITTLE goes a LONG, LONG, way.  I squeezed in a tiny bit of blue, decided it could use a little more, and ended up with a really deep shade, nearly BMW M3 blue (my favorite color ever!).  It's not at all subtle and I'm sure many grownups wouldn't be willing to eat a cookie that blue.  We'll find out tomorrow at work, I guess!

serious baby face
Then I let T loose (well, sort of).  She chose the shape of the cookie she wanted to decorate, an icing color, and squeezed it out herself from the really awesome Kuhn Rikon bottles I ordered a few weeks ago for the aforementioned cupcake baking.  I helped her with the sprinkles on a tiny spoon, as the sort-of-natural, locally made India Tree brand doesn't come with shakers in the lid. 

She managed to dump out about half an ounce of pink sprinkles all over her FunPod tower and our kitchen floor when my back was turned for a second.  I hope the dye is ok for dogs because Spike has eaten what I couldn't effectively pick up with a paper towel.  Sigh.

But it was a lot less messy than I expected, and she had a GREAT time.  My mom and I did a lot of baking together when I was a kid, and I was really excited to be able to finally share it with T.  We'll definitely do more.

The third round of baking will happen on Saturday when I make the birthday cupcakes and the last batch of cookies and icing for decorating.   Our oven and my KitchenAid stand mixer will be busy, busy, busy.

This post was brought to you by a crapload of things I bought on, and highly recommend if you're baking with your toddler.  Or by yourself, but you can probably reach the counter without the FunPod.


  1. I love those cupcake decorating thingys. I might have to get me some since I decorate cupcakes and xmas cookies.

  2. @Jenn - the bottles are so much easier to deal with than a pastry bag, in my opinion. And they can go into the dishwasher when I'm done. I think they are worth the $. And they seem to fit with all the standard-size decorating tips.


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