It's that time of the year again: Christmas baking! I wouldn't call myself a good cook and even less so a good baker, so I was happy to have Vic's support in making these vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free gingerbread men. Yep, you heard that correctly, these cookies are void of literally ANYTHING that might upset your stomach. Christmas is saved, people.
In my house we usually make fruit loaf, cinnamon-flavored-star-shaped-biscuits and lemon-butter-biscuits, all of which are filled with refined sugar, glutenous (is that a word?!) flour, eggs and butter. Before becoming the health freak that I am (cause let's face it, I am), I didn't mind and it was just kind of normal. But since two years I always make sure I come prepared to our Christmas get togethers by bringing my own batch of healthy cookies. I have 0 self discipline when it comes to saying no to food, so if I don't bring a healthy alternative and someone offers me a 'normal' cookie, there is no way I will say no to it. Ever.
It was actually the first time I have ever made gingerbread cookies, let alone such a healthy version of them. For the first time, I have to say they turned out delicious!
These little guys take a little tender care in the stamping process and I have to admit that they lost quite some limbs in the process. Or maybe we purposely weren't careful so that we could eat cookie dough along the way! That has to be one of the best things of baking gluten free cookies: you can eat all the raw cookie dough in the world without worrying about having a stomach ache afterwards. I’ll warn you right now, the dough is deliciously addictive!
These guys are:
Crispy on the edges Tender and slightly chewy in the centerPacked with ginger and cinnamon, two of my favourite spices And just so damn cute!
For the icing we got a bit creative and simply used organic peanut butter and molasses as 'glue' and then sprinkled all kinds of nuts and seeds on top. Alternatively I have read that you can use a simple mix of powdered sugar, melted vegan butter and a dash of almond milk.
It took quite a while to decorate them, but Vic & had an epic time sitting together at the table with our big mason jars of green smoothies, listening to Michael Bublé's Christmas music and catching up over the last couple weeks. Such great quality time!
A word on molasses
I've had molasses in my cupboard for a while, but never knew what to do with it. I actually had to research what exactly it is for this post because I had no clue myself. Basically it's this dark, sticky sweetener that is especially great for fall and winter baking because of the smoky flavour it adds to cookies and cakes. And it works really well with the typical winter spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg!
It is usually made from sugar cane or sugar beet juice that is boiled down to the syrup. The sugar crystals are then extracted from the syrup and what you are left with is molasses. The stick liquid actually has a lot of health benefits, which is especially true of unsulphured blackstrap molasses, the highest and most nutritious grade of molasses. It's chock full of vitamins and minerals, namely iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium and is said to help with acne, acid reflux, regulating menstrual flow and many more.
You can even take it as a supplement by mixing 1-2 tablespoons of it in a cup of boiling water and then drink it through a straw once the water has cooled. I've never tried this before, but I might give it a go over the holidays! If you want to learn more about the different types of molasses, check this out.
And without further ado...
Vegan Christmas Gingerbread Men(20 pieces)
1.5 cups gluten free flour
½ cup ground almonds (you can grind them yourself simply by putting in the blender)
¾ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger powder
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ cup cacao butter
1 tbsp. maple syrup
3 tbsp. molasses
2 tbsp. nut butter (I used almond butter)
¼ cup coconut sugar
What to use for decoration: peanut butter, molasses, any crushed nuts or seeds, bee pollen, roasted buckwheat
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Combine all ingredients except the flour, ground almonds and baking powder in a big bowl.
Mix well until smooth, then add the dry ingredients. Whisk again until you have a nice dough (add more flour if needed, or more liquid if the dough is too crumbly).
Roll out on a flour-covered surface and cut out your shapes. Make sure the dough isn't too thin or they'll become too crispy and your cookies risk loosing a arm or leg in the process.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
These come out of the oven very very soft. Don’t bake them any longer than the 10 minutes, once they cool they’ll firm up a lot. Leave them on the pan to cool for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Decorate using organic peanut butter and molasses as glue and then sprinkle any nuts or seeds you like on top.
Store covered at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer term storage. The batch should make between around 20 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutter.