Vegan Cooking

Christmas Cookies
by Mary Finch Kid eating a Cookie

It begins right after Thanksgiving; almost as soon as that last bit of leftover stuffing is gone I get the urge to bake dozens upon dozens of cookies. I'm not talking about your simple chocolate chip or peanut butter cookie; those are "everyday" cookies. My hands are anxious to create "Holiday" cookies! Special ones, goo-filled tempting bites of sweetness that you only have the energy to make once a year, when it's cold outside and you know your children will be stomping in the door any moment with red noses and a look in the eyes that screams, "Hot chocolate and cookies!"

As a child my mother baked cookies with her mother, Grandma Allamon, every holiday season; cut-out sugar cookies, bon-bon cookies, candy cane cookies, Mexican wedding cakes, gingerbread men, fudge, fruit cake, pefferneuse and springalinger were arranged on plates and delivered to friends and family, all expect one plate which was saved for Christmas Eve night. These delicious goodies, which were labored over for days, would be eaten by her family along with tiny glasses of eggnog, glasses that belong to my grandmother's mother, Mama Jordan. The glasses were originally jelly jars that she had purchased which had cartoon characters painted on the sides.

These cute little glass cups were passed on to my mother and as I child I remember drinking out of them once a year, on Christmas Eve. My siblings and I would help bake and decorate all the same cookies following the recipes that had been passed down from my grandmother, except for fruitcake and springalinger which my mother had always disliked. Cut out sugar cookies were always my favorite, though I'll admit that after I was done decorating there was more frosting and candy bits than cookie. After we had delivered our platters of homemade treats to loved ones we were ready to devour ours. We impatiently waited for darkness to fall, each trying to get as close to the kitchen as possible. As soon as the sun set we would race over each other, lunging towards the counter where the small cups were set out for us to choose. We each had a favorite (mine was the one with "Tweety Bird") and couldn't risk having to settle for a lesser cup. After our glasses were filled with egg nog and our plates with cookies; we would settle down in the living room, under the Christmas tree where we were allowed to open one present, the rest being saved for morning. The present was always matching pajamas for all of us.

I carry on this tradition with my children, but with a vegan twist!

I've modified the recipes to exclude animal products, added a few of my own recipes, and attempted vegan "eggnog". We pass our homemade treats out and have our own little Christmas Eve celebration complete with matching pajamas, though I don't have adorable little glasses to serve our nog in. Christmas day is often hectic, stressful and spent going back and forth between families and friends. Having our own Christmas Eve celebration allows us to spend quality time with our children before the rush of Christmas day.

A few of our favorite recipes:

Bon Bon Cookies: BonBon Cookies Filling Ingredients: Icing Ingredients: Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the margarine, sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the flour and salt by hand. If the dough is too dry and can't be handled, add in a tablespoon or two of soy milk.

Wrap about a tablespoon of cookie dough around the filling of your choice and roll into a ball. Place the bon bons on ungreased cookie sheets as you roll the dough. Bake the bon bons for 12 to 15 minutes.

Prepare the icing by mixing together the powered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract in a bowl.

Dip the warm bon bons in the icing and place on wax paper.

Mexican Wedding Cakes: Mexican Wedding Cakes Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream margarine, the 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla in medium bowl. Combine flour and pecans in a separate bowl. Stir into mixture in medium bowl. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake in 325 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned.

Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll again in powdered sugar.

Candy Cane Shaped Cookies: Candy Cane Cookies Pre-heat oven to 350* F.

Mix flour and salt together, set aside.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat margarine until creamy, gradually beat in powered sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. Beat in egg replacer, vanilla, and peppermint extracts then lower mixer speed and gradually mix in the flour mixture, beating just until blended. Remove slightly more than half of the dough from the bowl and set aside. Add the red food coloring to the remaining dough and beat until evenly mixed and colored.

For each candy cane, scoop out 1 teaspoonful of the plain dough and 1 teaspoonful of pink dough. Roll each dough portion between your hands to make a 4 inch rope. Twist the ropes around each other like a Barber Pole and shape into a cane shape. Arrange cookies on a greased baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 8 minutes until firm to the touch.

And of course, Eggless Nog! Eggless Nog Blend all in a blender until smooth - Chill and serve.