During this festive time of the year when everything’s decorated and people are in a festive (slightly stressed-out) mood, the lovely smell of baked goods is a perfect addition to the overall atmosphere. Spending a day in your own kitchen to bake Christmas cookies – sometimes more, sometimes less successful – is a lovely time that I wouldn’t want to miss, even though it can cost some nerves – especially when you’re baking with an oven that you’re not really used to (even though you’ve been living in the apartment for a few months now…).
The time before Christmas should also be given the name of butter-season. If you really think of it – most of the delicious baked goods consist mainly of butter. But this is by no means a rant on butter, au contraire, this is rather an ode to it. Well, okay, in my case it’s more an ode to plant-based alternatives.
Most of the cookies that my family bakes happen to be vegan anyways, so it is super easy to make plant-based Christmas cookies if you ask me. I’ll be sharing three of my all-time favourites where the dough is super easy to make (two of which are actually quite similar to each other). And if you ask me, the cookies go perfectly with any hot beverage like tea, coffee, or, if you’re in a very festive mood, with punch or mulled wine. The other day I served the cookies with a non-alcoholic version of hot cider. Delicious combination!
For the first type of cookie, the Vanillekipferl as we call them, my mom keeps telling me that it is of utmost importance to be very quick while preparing the dough, and the room in which you’re preparing the dough should be rather cold (or at least you should use cold ingredients). And she got that from my grandma. So my mom’s actually making them in one of the coldest part of the house where there’s no heater – in our pantry :D Well, I don’t have a pantry, but my flat is usually cold anyways and I was using cold ingredients as well. But maybe keep this in mind in case you’re trying the recipe ;) I must admit, the vanilla crescents are my least favourite cookies to make. I mess up the dough all of the time, and they are rather prone to break, and I seem to never be able to get the perfect crescent shape. However, they’re still yummy and they are a Christmas cookie staple.
What you need:
- 140g plant-based margarine
- 3 tbsp. plant-based milk alternative (I used oat milk)
- 200g flour
- 100g grounded almonds
- 90g powdered sugar
- 1 package vanilla sugar
How to make them:
For the dough, mix the margarine with the the plant-based milk alternative and the sugar. Add the flour and almonds and combine it to a dough. Make sure to not overwork the dough. Cover the dough with clingfilm and set it aside in the fridge to cool for at least an hour, but it’s even better to refrigerate overnight.
Divide the dough into small pieces and roll out each of them with your hand into strands with about 1-2 cm diameter and 3-4 cm long. Shape them into crescents (if you wanna make them perfect you should make the ends slightly thinner, which I didn’t). Place the crescents onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Backe them in a 175-180°C oven for about 13-15 minutes until lightly colored. Be sure to check them after a while to make sure that they are not too brown (this can happen very fast!).
For the coating, mix sifted powdered sugar and vanilla sugar. Carefully remove the crescents from the baking sheet when they’re done and let them cool for around 1 minute. Roll them in the sugar-vanilla mixture and transfer them to a plate. If you’re lazy and you don’t wanna risk breaking the small crescents you can just sprinkle them with the mixture, that’ll do the trick.
The Linzer Augen, “Eyes from Linz” so to say, are one of my favourite kind of Christmas cookies. They are super easy to make, and there’s not a lot of decoration going on but they still taste delicious in my opinion. Also, because I grew up near/in Linz, I like them even more ;)
What you need:
- 250g margarine
- 100g powdered sugar
- 1 package vanilla sugar
- 350g flour
How to make them:
In a mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, almond meal & then work in the butter into the mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. You can either do this with a fork or a mixer / food processor or simply by hand. Then just combine the mixture with your hands and shape them into a dough. Make sure not to overwork the dough! Wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for 1-2 hours (or overnight, if you want to).
Preheat the oven to 180°C. On a floured surface, roll out the dogh (1cm thick). Cut out the cookies, and if you want to you can cut 3 small holes (the “eyes”) in half of your cookies, simply do this with a straw in case you don’t have the special cookie cutter for this part. You can also just skip this part, but then it wouldn’t be the traditional Linzer Augen ;)
Put your cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment papaer. Make sure that the cookies on one baking sheet have a similar thickness. Bake them for around 8-10 minutes, until the edges turn golden (not brown!!). After they’re done, remove the cookies from the baking sheet and let them cool. On the cookies without holes, spread some jam, and put the ones with the wholes on top of them. Voilá, you’ve got your Linzer Augen! Oh, and you can dust them with powdered sugar if you want to. Enjoy!
What you need for the short pastry
- 200g plant-based margarine, soft
- 400g flour
- 100g sugar
- 2 tbsp. almond drink (or any other plant-based milk alternative)
What you need for the topping
- 200g chopped almonds
- 50g sliced almonds
- 150g ground almonds
- 40g cane sugar
- 20g sugar
- 100g plant-based margarine
- 150-200ml almond drink (or any other plant-based milk alternative)
- 200g dark chocolate
How to make them:
For the dough, mix all the in a big mixing bowl and knead them to a dough. Make sure not to overdo the kneading, this might ruin your dough. Form a ball, cover it with clingfilm and set aside in the fridge to cool for at least 30 minutes.
For the topping, place the chopped & slices almonds and sugar in a small saucepan and roast them until gold brown. Add the margarine and ground almonds, stirring occasionally so everything dissolves. Add the almond milk and bring to a boil (don’t forget to stir!). Remove from heat and let it cool.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll the dough out into a thin rectangle the size of a baking sheet. Place it on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, and take a fork to perforate the surface with it. Spread any jam of your liking (I had some kind of almond jam at home, but apricot jam would fit perfectly as well) over the dough, and then distribute the nut mixture on top. Bake for around 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.
While it is still warm, cut into triangles. After letting it cool down completely, you can dip the edges of the wedges (hah, this rhymes!) into melted chocolate. Then you can cool this on a wire rack so the chocolate coating solidifies. Enjoy!
As you can see, you actually don’t need that many ingredients to make any of the cookies. The main ingredients are the usual kitchen staples – margarine, sugar & flour. And they’re super easy to make – you can prepare the dough the night before in case you haven’t got that much time on your hand. And baking cookies can be such a comforting activity (unless something goes wrong with the dough… we’ve all been there!), don’t you agree? Tell me, what’s your favourite Christmas cookie?