Cookies & Cocoa
Cookies & Cocoa
Cookies!
Cookies!

When I think back to the holidays growing up one of my favorite memories has always been making cookies with my mother. When I think about the holidays now my favorite memory is making cookies with my girls and it happens to be one of their favorite things to do as well! So many memories shared singing with a wooden spoon and dancing to the Christmas music, sipping hot cocoa, cutting cookies, clapping hands together to make flour puffs, frosting and sprinkles everywhere, stealing sugar or frosting and giggling while doing it, I smile thinking about all the memories. It is more than the cookies, yes they taste so delicious but there is so much love that goes into them. Then there is picking out the one or two cookies to put out for Santa and it isn’t an easy decision.

Making Christmas cookies photo shot 2011.
Making Christmas cookies photo shot 2011.
So many cookies and so much sugar we are seeing stars!  Making Christmas cookies photo shot 2011.
So many cookies and so much sugar we are seeing stars!
Making Christmas cookies photo shot 2011.

Sugar cookies aren’t healthy and I am not sure there ever could be a “healthy” sugar cookie but it is all about balance in life and in my mind the memories are worth more than the few sugar cookies that are consumed during the holidays. When I was told I had to avoid gluten years ago, before gluten free options were as available as they are today, I remembered trying to make gluten free cookies and getting so upset. I tried so many variations and nothing was like the cookies I enjoyed growing up and I was so upset and heartbroken. Years after that I found out I could include gluten back into my diet and it was only a couple months before Christmas and instantly I thought of cookies and got emotional. As the years have gone by and diets have changed I have tried so many cookie recipes even gluten free and vegan recipes that are delicious. Having friends and family with different dietary restrictions and knowing how they feel I try to make sure that when we bring cookies to holiday gatherings that everyone can enjoy them. Everyone including those with no dietary restrictions and making sure they are delicious.

Again making so many different recipes, tweaking, modifying this is the gluten free and vegan sugar cookie recipe that my family likes the best. The only debate is the almond extract which we are split half and half. I love the smell and taste of almond extract in cookies and my husband and youngest just want straight vanilla. The icing I like to add meringue powder for gloss and the most consistent results for very detailed cookies but omitting works too which works great if you are adding sprinkles and other things and not piping lots of detail and flooding the cookies, as shown in some of the photos below. Every year we pick a different theme for Christmas and I like to coordinate our sugar cookies to the theme. While we have cookie parties and will do whatever the kids want to do from a big bin of cookie cutters I make the coordinating cookies to have out when we host Christmas at our house and to share with others. We have made snowflakes, stars, deer (yes sparkling pink and red deer!), and last year did wildlife like birds, deer (different then other years), bears, and fox.

What goes great with cookies? Cocoa! While making our cookies we sip on hot cocoa and some of the best holiday memories are nibbling on cookies with hot cocoa snuggled up with a warm blanket. The girls love mint hot cocoa and I found one of the easiest ways to make it is just heating up So Delicious Mint Chocolate Coconut Milk, top it with lots of fluffy whipped cream (even better this year that I don’t have to make it from scratch with new So Delicious Coco Whip), and chocolate shavings for a real treat! If you live in a warm weather region you might enjoy another one of the girls favorites, frozen hot chocolate! Again their favorite version is mint chocolate and you can top it with whipped cream or make it a float with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Hot cocoa!  Making Christmas cookies photo shot 2011.
Hot cocoa!
Making Christmas cookies photo shot 2011.
Just a couple more chocolate curls.... Making Christmas cookies photo shot 2011.
Just a couple more chocolate curls….
Making Christmas cookies photo shot 2011.

Christmas cookies are such a cherished tradition 3 years ago I had a dear friend and photographer Katie Raivala, come into our home and take pictures of my family and me baking for our family photo shot and Christmas cards. To this day they are still some of my favorite photos and I have many of them framed in my kitchen. Even though we have changed a lot and grown (or shrunk) during the past 3 years I decided to add a few of these favorite moments into my post. I have also added a few photos I was able to find of past cookies we have made.

Do you have any favorite holiday food traditions?

Then:

Making Christmas cookies photo shot 2011.
Making Christmas cookies photo shot 2011.
Making Christmas cookies photo shot 2011.
Making Christmas cookies photo shot 2011.
Making Christmas cookies photo shot 2011.
Making Christmas cookies photo shot 2011.
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Making Christmas cookies photo shot 2011.

Now:

Making cookies!
Making cookies!
Making cookies!
Making cookies!
Having fun making cookies!
Having fun making cookies!
Some of the girls cookies.
Some of the girls cookies.

Sugar Cookies

Qty cookies- 3 dozen (3-4″ cookie cutter)

2- 2 2/3c all-purpose, or all-purpose gluten-free, additional flour for rolling out cookies*

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

3/4c vegan butter (used Earth Balance Coconut Spread)

1c sugar

1/4c c So Delicious Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk

1 1/2 tsp good quality/ pure vanilla extract, or vanilla bean

1/4 tsp almond extract, optional

*If using a gluten free flour blend that does not have xanthan gum add 3/4 tsp. If gluten free is not needed all-purpose flour can be used.

Icing

4c powder sugar

6 TBSP, or more if flooding, So Delicious French Vanilla Coffee creamer or Vanilla Coconut Milk

Gel icing

Sprinkles, colored sugar, or edible decorations as desired

In a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside. In a Kitchen-Aid, or stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add in vanilla extract and almond extract if using. Add in half of the flour mix, once mixed in add coconut milk, and then remaining flour. Once all the flour is incorporated wrap dough in plastic wrap or place in a air tight container and refrigerated for 1- 2 hours. When ready to roll out the cookies, remove dough and pre heat oven to 350F. Lightly flour surface and roll out half of the dough with a rolling pin to approximately 3/16″ thick. Cut cookies with cookie cutter and place on a non stick baking sheet, or I like to use a Silpat baking mat, leaving a 1/2-1″ between cookies. Once cookie sheet is filled place in a freezer for 10 minutes before baking, this is so they puff out and don’t spread out losing their shape. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake 8-10 minutes (around 12 minutes if slightly thicker or you like them harder, we like them chewy). Remove cookies from the oven and let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan and placing on a cooling rack to cool. Repeat until all dough has been rolled out, cut, and baked.

Once cookies are cooled mix powdered sugar with coffee creamer or coconut milk, starting with 4 table spoons and slowing adding until all powdered sugar is incorporated and desired consistency is reached. Separating and coloring icing with gel color as desired. You will want a consistency slightly thicker than glue, not too thick but not to thin that it just slides off the cookie. Frost cookies as desired with a piping bag or with a knife and decorate as desired.

If you aren’t going to use sugars and just want iced cookies thicker icing works well for piping, making two batches one thicker and one thinner if flooding cookies. Making a boarder with a thin line of thicker icing that holds shape and immediately fill with the thinner that will slowly flood but don’t use too much that it spills over the border. It also helps to use a toothpick to help spread the icing. Once set you can go back and pipe on detail. If you want all of the icing to be even and details within or more detailed cookies as some of the examples below and are doing this for the first time I suggest checking out one of the many tutorials online, or leave a message below and I can help point you in the direction or give you tips.

Cookies & Cocoa
Cookies & Cocoa
Cookies & Cocoa
Cookies & Cocoa

Mint Hot Cocoa

Makes 2 servings

3c So Delicious Mint Chocolate Coconut Milk

1c or more! So Delicious Coco Whip

chocolate shavings

Steam milk or if you don’t have a way to steam milk you can slowly heat milk over low heat on the stove in a pan. Pour warm milk into a cups, top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Enjoy!

Frozen Minty Hot Cocoa and Mint Hot Chocolate Float
Frozen Minty Hot Cocoa and Mint Hot Chocolate Float

Frozen Mint Hot Cocoa

Makes 2 servings

3c So Delicious Mint Chocolate Coconut Milk

ice

1c or more! So Delicious Coco Whip

chocolate shavings

In a Vitamix, or high-speed blender, blend together milk and start with 2 cup of ice, blend together until smooth. Add more ice as needed to desired consistency. Pour into cups, top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Enjoy!

Chocolate Mint Milk Float

Makes 2 servings

3c So Delicious Mint Chocolate Coconut Milk, chilled

1/2- 1 pint So Delicious Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Pour milk into a glass and add a scoop or two of ice cream. Enjoy!

Sugar Cookies Snowflakes1

Sugar Cookies Snowflakes

Sugar Cookies4

Sugar Cookies3

Sugar Cookies2

Sugar Cookies1

Sugar Cookie Bubbles

Sugar Cookies Lolipops

Sugar Cookies Candy1

Sugar Cookies Candy