For several years now, my family has enjoyed making sugar cookies together during the holidays. Our son has been part of this tradition since he was four. Now that he’s ten, he still gets excited when we get out the cookie cutters. Dipping the finished cookies into the various icing colors is always very satisfying too.
I find the texture of these cookies to be amazing, and the almond extract imparts a delicate flavor to the icing, resulting in a cookie that is delicious but not overly sweet. With their colorful, satin finish and playful, toylike shapes, these cookies are almost as fun to look at as they are to eat.
These cookies always make a great gift on their own, but this year we decided to make them even better by pairing them with some homemade almond milk. Making your own is easy and can be done on a regular basis, so we included a recipe card with our gift. In our house, we make this milk once or twice a week. It’s hard to beat the fresh taste of some cold, homemade almond milk poured from a Mason jar. Plus, you don’t have to compost that almond meal. You can freeze it and use it later in smoothies, fruit crisps, brownies or other baked goods.
(Make sure you scroll down for both recipes.)
- 1 cup raw almonds soaked overnight
- 4 cups cold water
- 1–3 dates
- ¼ tsp vanilla
- a pinch of salt
- After soaking the almonds overnight, discard water, give the almonds a good rinse and place into blender along with 4 cups of fresh cold water, the dates, vanilla and salt and blend on high 3–4 minutes.
- Set a nut milk or muslin bag over a large pitcher or bowl and carefully pour the milk mixture into the bag, being careful not to let it overflow. With one hand, lift the bag from the top, letting the milk strain into your bowl. Once most of the milk has drained, give the bag a few gentle downward squeezes to extract the remainder – not too hard as you don’t want to force any almond meal through the bag.
- Pour milk into a glass jar, bottle or container of your choice and refrigerate.
- 1 cup vegan buttery sticks (Earth Balance)
- 3-3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 whole egg replacements (Ener-G)
- ¼ cup tofu cream cheese (Tofutti)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 6–8 tsp soy or almond milk
- 4 tsp light corn syrup
- assorted food coloring
- In a large bowl, cream together the buttery sticks and sugar. Stir in the egg replacements and vanilla. Gradually add the flour, baking powder and tofu cream cheese. You may have to use your hands at this point to finish the mixing. Form dough into a long loaf and wrap in cellophane. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the cookie sheets or use non-stick foil or parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to ¼” thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters and place about one inch apart on cookie sheets.
- Bake for 12–14 minutes until bottoms and edges just start to get light brown. Remove from baking sheet and cool completely on wire racks.
- In medium bowl, stir together powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup. This will give you a nice white icing.
- For colors, divide icing into shallow bowls and add food coloring to desired intensity.
- Hold cookies by their edges and carefully dip one side in the icing. Here’s where the shallow bowls come in handy. Let iced cookies dry overnight.
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