Buttery, crumbly and sweet, these vegan sugar cookies are the perfect accompaniment to almost every situation and taste amazing when paired with coffee or cacao drinks, as the aromatic bitter flavours contrast and compliment the butteriness of the cookies very well.
This simple recipe can be modified to suit any occasion and makes for a fun activity to do with family, friends and kids, which is why sugar cookies are one of the most sought after recipes especially during the holiday season. Although this recipe has a sweet base, the use of vegan cream cheese and ginger powder creates a very subtle savoury undertone, which means that they taste just as good if you were to choose to skip the frosting all together, which, to be honest, is what I normally do!
Sugar cookies usually come either soft or hard. This recipe makes the crumbly-melt-in-your-mouth kind. The most difficult part of the process is creaming together the butter and sugar (if you’re mixing it manually without the use of a hand mixer- like me) and waiting for the dough to rest in the fridge. Apart from that, it’s just mixing the ingredients and shaping the cookies. If you’re making these cookies gluten free, I highly recommend using green banana flour to replace regular all purpose flour, not only does it most closely resemble regular flour in terms of texture, it’s also jam packed with beneficial nutrients.
Fun fact!: Sugar cookies originally come from 7th century Persia, when sugar was being cultivated. The mainstream sugar cookies that we are accustomed to now were first created in Nazareth by the Protestant settlers in the 1700s.
Crumbly Vegan Sugar Cookie
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 cup vegan butter at room temperature
- ½ cup vegan cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp pink salt - or regular table salt
- ½ cup vegan butter
- ¼ cup vegan cream cheese
- ¼ cup almond milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- Sprinkles - optional
Preheat oven to 350F/180C
Cream the butter and cream cheese into the sugar in a medium sized bowl, making sure that the sugar crystals have disappeared. This step will be easier with a hand mixer. I didn’t use one and it still turned out fine, it just takes more time and effort! Add vanilla extract and remaining wet ingredients.
Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, making sure to remove any clumps with a fork or whisk.
Pour the dry ingredients into the butter and cream cheese mixture - combine thoroughly.
Don’t over work the cookie dough. When it starts to just come together, place a sheet of cling-film on the counter and place the dough in the center. Using the cling-film, mold the cookie dough into a rough ball shape and wrap. Place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. This will make it a lot easier to handle as the butter and cream cheese will harden.
Take the cookie dough out of the fridge and divide into two portions. Place one half back into the fridge.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, to ensure the cookies don’t stick.
Using just your hands, take about 2 tbsp of cookie dough, roll it into a ball and press it flat between your palms. Place the cookies evenly spaced apart on the baking tray.
Place the cookies in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
When the cookies have baked, remove them from the oven and place them on a cooling rack. They need to be completely cool before you can begin to ice them. And you’re done!
In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, food colouring and ginger powder. Mix well until the powdered sugar and liquids are well combined, making sure to mix away any clumps.
Take a cookie and place in the center of the icing mixture, letting the cookie just rest on the surface of the mixture.
Lift the cookie away from the icing mixture, allowing the excess to drip away. Using the back of a teaspoon smooth out the icing and place the cookie on a flat surface to let the icing set. If you want you can add sprinkles and further decorate the cookies to your liking!
STEP ONE – MIX WET INGREDIENTS AND SUGAR
Ready a large mixing bowl and add the sugar, cream cheese and butter. Carefully cream together with an stand mixer or by hand with a whisk. You want to ensure that most of the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has a very smooth texture.
I don’t have an electric mixer on hand and I find that using just a whisk works just as well, needless to say it takes a little more elbow grease! After the sugar has been incorporated into the butter and cream cheese, add the remaining wet ingredients.
STEP TWO – MIX DRY INGREDIENTS
In a separate bowl add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and remaining dry ingredients, combine well before mixing into the wet ingredients. Doing this step makes for a smoother batter.
STEP THREE – COMBINE WET + DRY INGREDIENTS
Carefully pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. You want to combine the flour and the butter mixture well enough so that everything comes together, though you don’t want to overwork the dough at this point. The more you work the dough, the chewier the cookies will be, and that’s not what we are going for. We want crumbly, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cookies!
STEP FOUR – WRAP & REST
Once you’re happy with your dough, place a large piece of cling-film on a clean counter top. Place the dough in the center of the cling-film and wrap. Place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes for the butter and cream cheese to harden up. This will make it a lot easier to handle the dough when forming the cookies.
STEP FIVE – READY BAKING SHEET
Take a large baking sheet and cover with parchment paper. We don’t want our cookies sticking to the baking sheet!
STEP SIX – SHAPE THE COOKIE DOUGH
Although it’s not completely necessary, you can lightly flour your work surface before unwrapping the dough. This cookie dough recipe is really buttery so it shouldn’t be too sticky at all. You’ll want to divide the cookie dough into two portions. Wrap half the cookie dough and place back into the fridge.
Grab about 2 tablespoons of cookie dough and, using the palms of your hands, form into a ball and press flat, so that the cookie is about 1 cm thick, make sure cookies are evenly spaced apart on the baking tray as they will expand during the baking process. Place the cookies into a preheated oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 350F/180C. Baking time can vary depending on how big you make your cookies. My cookies were about 2 inches in diameter.
STEP SEVEN – PLACE ON COOLING RACK
Once the cookies are done, remove from the oven; using a flat spatula carefully place the cookies onto a cooling rack. You want the cookies to be completely cool before icing them!
STEP ONE –
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together butter and cream cheese. It’s essential that they are at room temperature and extremely soft.
STEP TWO – ADD FOOD COLOURING
Slowly add the powdered sugar and food colouring until you reach your desired consistency and colour. It is really important to add the powdered sugar in small doses, this makes it easier to combine with the butter and cream cheese without getting powdered sugar all over the place!
STEP THREE – SPREAD ICING
Place the cookies on top of the icing mixture, then carefully lift, allowing the excess icing to drip away. Then, using a teaspoon or butter knife, spread the icing in circular motions making sure the entire surface of the cookie is covered. Repeat with all the cookies and add sprinkles!
If you’d like your cookies not too brown in the oven try adding a teaspoon of cream of tartar to control the colour and texture of the cookies. Most importantly you have to keep the dough cold otherwise it will make it really difficult to handle and shape. Keeping the dough cold also ensures that the cookies actually retain their shape while baking.
This is such a simple and easy recipe to have on hand for any occasion as you can customize the cookie to almost any shape you want and the decoration options are endless! The most time-consuming part of the process is leaving the butter and cream cheese out to soften and waiting for the dough to rest in the fridge. A tonne of fun to make, especially in a group setting.