The famous and celebrated sugar cookie is hardly a new innovation. A simple go-to baked good that required few ingredients, in North America it became especially popular in the 1930s as the quintessential cookie to leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve along with a glass of milk. Its history dates back much further however– according to historians the concept originated in Germany and was brought to Pennsylvania by German settlers in the 1700s. Now referred to as the “Nazareth Cookie”, this rich, crumbly, cane sugar-sweetened cookie was a surefire hit with other settlers and it spread across the nation to ultimately become as deeply rooted in American culture as meatloaf and green bean casserole. And unlike pineapple upside-down cake or Jello salad, it didn’t fall by the wayside after the 1970s.
In fact in the 1970s the sugar cookie became even more popular with the introduction of pre-made cookie dough. The convenience factor was undeniable, despite the fact that the result didn’t have that “home-baked with love” feel (no matter how many Pillsbury commercials denied this). By the 1980s, store-bought ready made cookie dough gained further significance among the American public due to recipe revamps and heart-warming, family-friendly advertising campaigns.
Now enter the 1990s. Suddenly butter (and all fat for that matter) was the devil. The concept of a sugar cookie without butter (or margarine, which [compared to butter] was a lesser evil at the time) seems to eschew the very thing that makes a sugar cookie a sugar cookie. But in the 90’s fat was to blame for obesity, heart disease, etc.
But low and behold a fat free sugar cookie somehow made to grocery store shelves and did quite well until the lawsuits happened and people started to correlate fat free diets with diabetes (much of which had to do with excess carbs and high fructose corn syrup that the aforementioned fat-free “too good to be true” products contained in order to “replace” the trans fats that were once an omnipresent ingredient in processed foods).
But now we’re all better informed. So let’s do this, shall we?
2 cups Gluten Free All Purpose Flour. I used Bob’s Red Mill flour blend (potato starch, sorghum flour, tapioca, garbanzo and fava bean flours).
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread OR equivalent amount of coconut butter, softened. If you use coconut butter, add a bit more salt i.e. 1/4 tsp.
1/3 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk (at room temp)
1 Tbsp tapioca powder mixed with 1/4 cup water (left for a few minute to gel; this will be our egg replace-r)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup Sugarleaf™ by SweetLeaf® baking crystals
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, combine flour blend with baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the SugarLeaf granules with Earth Balance or coconut oil, soy milk and vanilla until creamy. Add dry ingredients in increments and mix until a cookie dough consistency is reached, adding a splash of extra soy milk if the result is too dry. Cover dough and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 and line baking sheet with parchment paper. If you do not have parchment paper, lightly grease the cookie sheet.
Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half 1/4 inch thick. Cut each cookie using cookie cutters in your favorite shape(s). *Hint: if you do not have cookie cutters, a glass jar, tumbler or any other smallish open mouth container will work in a pinch (dip in flour between uses to prevent dough from sticking). Place on cookie sheet and sprinkle with SugarLeaf granules and place on your cookie sheet.
Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from cookie sheet and place on a cooling rack.
Enjoy this recipe with the understanding that you can fully have your cookies and eat them too! (Whatever that means…interpret to your liking and enjoy these ridiculously delicious “sugar” cookies that won’t inhibit your goals of becoming the world’s most influential and accomplished theoretical physicist…or Oscar-winning actress, supermodel, fashion designer, champion athlete, cutting-edge doctor, lawyer, gonzo journalist, international agent of espionage, ___________, ___________, ___________, or whatever other sort of rock star you plan to be ;). The world is your oyster, so go forth and live the dream. Cheers to health, happiness, and achieving our goals for the new year!