I was reading a magazine this morning and it showed a picture of these deep, dark, chewy ginger cookies with a caption explaining that the recipes for their amazing vegan holiday cookies could be found on their website. Of course I immediately went over to my computer and looked them up. The resulting slideshow was a total disappointment. If the ginger spice cookies were there, I missed them. The other cookies pictured looked vegan and healthy, if you know what I mean. I had been captivated by the idea of delicious vegan cookies and I expressed my disappointment to Alex. A few hours later I was eating the best cake-like spiced sugar cookies I had ever tasted and the fact that they were vegan was just an added bonus.
There's a lot you can do with this recipe. For instance we used avocado oil because we like it, but if you don't happen to have avocado oil in your pantry you can substitute a different oil, canola or corn oil if that's what you have or perhaps even a walnut or almond oil to give these cookies a different spin. We didn't have any fresh or ground ginger in the house when he made these, though you could definitely add them to the spice profile, and turn them into ginger chews or leave them as is, and sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar for a play off the classic snickerdoodle.
As you can see in the pictures, for this first experiment we rolled them in sugar. These cookies are so moist that the bottom layer of sugar got sticky as the cookies sat at room temperature, so we adjusted the directions accordingly. If you like a heavier layer of sugar on your cookies you can dip the tops in the sugar and press it into the dough.
The starch paste is what makes the difference here, giving the cookies structure without using eggs. It's an old baking trick, seen in French pate choux and Asian sponge cakes and breads, and one that continues to serve us well. The flavor is sweet and clean, focusing on the sugar and the spices. The texture is soft and tender with a hint of chewiness and a bit of crunch from the sugar. They're just good cookies.
Vegan Spice Cookies
Makes about 30 cookies
50 grams / 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon avocado oil
75 grams / ½ cup all-purpose flour
130 grams / 9 tablespoons apple cider
150 grams / ⅔ cup apple cider
100 grams / 7 tablespoons avocado oil
250 grams / 1 cup + 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 grams / 1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla paste
350 grams / 2 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
9 grams / 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
4.5 grams / ¾ teaspoon salt
1 gram / ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 gram / ½ teaspoons ground mace
0.5 grams / ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
coarse (raw) sugar for sprinkling on the cookies
To make the Cider Paste, put the oil and flour in a small pot set over medium heat. Use a whisk to stir the mixture continuously as it cooks. When the flour thickens and pulls away from the sides of the pan, 2-3 minutes, add the cider and whisk to combine. Once the cider has been absorbed into the flour, switch to a spatula and continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes, until it forms a smooth ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the Cider Paste to a bowl and let cool slightly.
Put the apple cider, avocado oil, brown sugar, Cider Paste, and vanilla paste into a bowl and stir until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, mace, and cardamom. Use a rubber spatula to stir the flour into the liquid mixture. Beat the mixture by hand until it forms a smooth dough, about 2 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. (175°C.)
Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Scoop cookies using a purple ice cream scoop or a heaping tablespoon and roll it into balls. Press the cookies onto the parchment, flattening them slightly and leaving 2” of space between each cookie. These will rise and spread. Sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cookies are just set.