Soft cookies that are healthier than your average gingerbread man. These are butter free and vegan too.
Deck the halls. Turn on some Christmas music. Pour yourself a (tall) glass of eggnog.
Ready or not, Christmas is well and truly here.
For me, Christmas just isn’t Christmas without cookies. Sure, I love seeing twinkling lights, buying (and receiving!) presents, making Christmas pudding, and drinking (and eating) peppermint mochas. And, perhaps most of all, I adore the general feeling of the holiday season. The completely intangible joy of knowing that Christmas is here is still magical to me.
But, despite all of that, I can’t truly get into the holiday spirit until I smell a batch of freshly baked cookies.
Now that my kitchen smells like gingerbread and there’s flour all over my face, I’m in a seriously festive mood.
While any nearly cookie can count as as ‘Christmas cookie’, nothing screams ‘Christmas!’ as much as the classic gingerbread man. Or gingerbread woman.
Or gingerbread tree/bear/pig/shoe…
I may – may – have a bit of a cookie cutter addition. (There’s even an Eiffel Tower cutter sitting in one of my cupboards).
But wait, isn’t this a breakfast blog? Technically, yes. So I’ve done my best to make this gingerbread ‘breakfast appropriate’.
Here’s what makes this gingerbread different.
Butter: None! Except for a little almond butter. There’s no oil either.
Sugar: Yes, these cookies contain sugar (they’re cookies, after all). But these gingerbread men are far less sugary than most cookies.
Flour: Good morning, oats! Oat flour gives these cookies a boost of fibre, plus a bunch of other nutrients. There’s also some all purpose flour, which is important for the cookies’ structure.
Secret vegetable goodness: Surprise, surprise, I’ve gone and added pumpkin into another recipe. It provides moisture without upsetting the gingerbread flavor. Plus, vitamin A!
Gingerbread typically includes eggs, but cookies made with pumpkin puree usually turn out better when you leave out the eggs. This was a tip I first read on Sally’s Baking Addiction, and after making plenty of pumpkin cookies over the past few years, I can say that eggless is definitely the way to go (when it comes to pumpkin cookies, at least).
So for those of you who avoid dairy and/or eggs, I have good news: this gingerbread happens to be completely vegan!
Usually, I don’t bother with chilling cookie dough. Why? I’m impatient. But when it comes to cut-out cookies, this step is 300% necessary. The dough is very soft and reasonably sticky, so it needs that time to firm up in the fridge.
Since I wanted to avoid adding lots of butter or oil, there’s less flour in this recipe than in your typical gingerbread cookies (as lots of flour can result in dry cookies). So that’s one reason why the dough is quite soft. Also, I figured more flour will inevitably be added to the dough when it’s rolled and re-rolled.
On that note, go nuts with the flour when rolling and cutting the cookies. Make sure you’re work surface is covered in flour, dust your rolling pin with flour, submerge your cutters in flour – make it start snowing flour in your kitchen if that helps. A generous dusting of flour will stop the dough from sticking and make the rolling/cutting process a whole lot easier.
As I tend to go seriously overboard with the flour, I often use a pastry brush to brush of the excess flour once the cookie dough has been cut and the little shapes are safely sitting on the baking trays.
If you’re like me, you’ll have to grab
a cookie several cookies as soon as they come out of the oven. Anyone who can resist a warm cookie must have a willpower of made of steel. But if you’re looking to decorate the cookies, you really do need to let them cool. And cool completely – none of that ‘eh, they’re cool enough’ stuff.*
*A direct quote from me before messing up a batch of cupcakes (by adding frosting to not-yet-cool cupcakes).
Since decorating isn’t something I’m particularly good at (I have seriously unsteady hands) I kept it simple: melted white chocolate, sprinkles and M&M’s. If you’d like to make a proper icing, then please go ahead. But if you ask me, melted chocolate wins over icing any day of the week.
Every time I’ve made this recipe I’ve ended up with exactly 20 cookies. But obviously your cookie cutters will make a big difference here, so consider 20 cookies a rough estimate for the quantity.
Okay, that’s all I have to say about gingerbread (for now!).
Wait, one more thing: as fans of gingerbread lattes would know, gingerbread pairs perfectly with coffee. So grab yourself some cookies, a good mug of joe, and enjoy the fun of the holiday season.
- 2 tablespoons (35g) almond butter
- ¼ cup (60g) pumpkin puree
- ¼ cup (50g) brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons (30mL) maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¾ cup (70g) oat flour
- ½ cup (70g) all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Extra flour, for rolling and cutting
- In a large bowl, combine the almond butter, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, maple syrup, blackstrap molasses and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.
- Mix in the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Add the oat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix with a spoon until combined. The dough should be soft and reasonably sticky.
- Transfer the dough to a large sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly, and flatten into a disc. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking trays with non-stick paper. Generously flour over a flat surface, as well as a rolling pin and some cookie cutters.
- Place the chilled dough to the floured surface, sprinkle over more flour, and roll out to approximately ¼-inch thick. Use the cookie cutters to cut out cookies, re-rolling the dough as necessary. Carefully place the cookies on the prepared baking trays.
- Bake for 8 - 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking trays for 5 minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack. Store the cookies in an airtight container.
To make your own oat flour, use a coffee grinder (or food processor, or blender) grind some rolled oats into a flour.
¾ cup of rolled oats will yield a little over ¾ cup of oat flour.
If the dough appears to be too wet (or overly sticky), add some more flour. If the dough is too dry, add more maple syrup (or a splash of milk).
1 hour is the minimum dough chilling time – longer is fine (within reason, don’t leave it there for days).
Cool cookies completely before decorating.
I decorated my cookies with melted white chocolate, sprinkles and M&M's.