Remember those awesome Sugarplum Cookies we made for Christmas here at Blisstree? The festive cookie recipe from Babycakes’ Erin McKenna is not only vegan and gluten-free; it also contains heart-healthy flax meal and uses healthy butter and dairy alternatives like coconut oil and applesauce. I love them so much (and so do my non-vegan, non-gluten-intolerant friends) that I decided to play with the recipe to make a Valentine’s Day version, flavored with hazelnuts, lemon zest, strawberry jam and made festive with a heart-shaped thumbprint. These are better than any Valentine I ever got in school.
Vegan, Gluten-Free Valentine’s Day Thumbprint Cookies
adapted from Babycakes by Erin McKenna
3/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup evaporated cane juice
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon almond extract
2 cups brown rice flour
1/3 cup finely ground hazelnuts
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the oil, evaporated cane juice, applesauce, salt, vanilla and almond extracts until fully combined. Add the flour, hazelnuts, baking soda, xanthan gum, and lemon zest directly to the wet ingredients and combine until a dough is formed. If it crumbles, add cold water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a ball. (OPTIONAL: Chill the dough in the refrigerator for two hours for cookies that hold their shape better.)
3. With clean hands, for tablespoon-sized dough balls and space them one inch apart on the lined baking sheets. Using a miniature heart-shaped cookie cutter wrapped in saran wrap (see photo, above) press a heart-shaped “thumbprint” into the center of each cookie. Bake the cookies on the center rack for 16 minutes, pressing into the thumbprint with the wrapped cookie cutter and rotating the sheets 180 degrees after 8 minutes. The finished cookies will be golden and firm to the touch.
4. Let the cookies stand on the sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely. Pour the confectioners’ sugar into a shallow bowl and roll the cookies through it until completely coated. Spoon one teaspoon strawberry jam into each indentation. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.