The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking. We were to decorate our cookies in the theme of September – whatever that means to us. For me, I created fall leaves, pumpkins, and apples.
I used to bake sugar cookies at Christmas-time every year with the kids, the same way my mother did with us when I was young. However, I haven’t made them since going gluten-free, and I never made them with royal icing. While royal icing wasn’t mandatory, I wanted to challenge myself with this decorating technique. So in addition to the challenge to make decorated sugar cookies, I had the additional challenge to make them dairy and gluten-free. I also opted to use natural food coloring (I used India Tree food coloring).
Mandy did suggest a gluten-free recipe for sugar cookies – a recipe from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef! How could I not follow it – every one of their recipes is amazing. The only changes I made: I substituted the butter with coconut oil and the margarine with Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread. I also added 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract. They were simple to make, and tasted just like the sugar cookies I grew up with.
As for the royal icing, it was actually easier than I thought it would be. However, it was time-consuming, and my hat is off to people who do this on a regular basis. I’ve seen some intricate cookies in my day, and I now have a deeper appreciation for all of that hard work.
The verdict on these cookies? Well, sugar cookies aren’t my #1 favorite, but they were well-enjoyed by my family this weekend. Delicate, not overly sweet, with that lovely hint of almond, they were definitely a treat.
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Sugar Cookies recipe, adapted from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef
1 1/2 c sweet white rice flour
1 c tapioca starch
2 1/2 t xanthan gum
1 c granulated sugar
1/2 c unrefined coconut oil
1/2 c Earth Balance buttery spread (or other dairy-free butter substitute)
2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t almond extract
Mix all of the dry ingredients together well in a large bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the sugar with the coconut oil and buttery spread until well-blended. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and almond extract very well. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Divide in half, and roll out each half between two sheets of parchment paper to about 1/2 inch thickness. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out just a bit more, to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and re-roll the leftover dough to cut additional shapes. (You might find that it’s easier to refrigerate the dough scraps periodically if they become overly soft.) Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges just begin to start to color. Allow to cool completely before decorating with icing.
Makes about 3 – 3 1/2 dozen cookies, depending on size.