Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Can Egg Free, Nut Free and Dairy Free Taste and Look Good?

Some time ago a friend had asked me to see if I could come up with some cookies for her son's birthday today because with his nut, dairy and egg allergies, he never gets a birthday cake that looks like what other kids get.  This was a huge challenge for me, but I told her I would see what I could come up with.  Of course, I first looked to see if I could find a recipe that was already out there and proven.  But I didn't find anything.  So then I decided to start with a recipe that I like and make adjustments/substitutions as necessary.  I started with my favorite plain sugar cookie recipe from Lila Loa and changed a few things. I used vegan margarine from Earth Balance and after much research and discussion decided to substitute 1/4 cup apple sauce + 1/2 tsp baking powder for the eggs.

At first as I was mixing in ingredients, it looked really scary.  But as I started adding flour, it started coming together.  Usually when I use this regular recipe, I only use from 3.75 to 4.0 cups of flour for the correct consistency, but with the extra moisture from the apple sauce I ended up using 5 cups of flour and very, very lightly dusted my waxed paper as I rolled them out and cut them. I then baked them for 8-9 minutes at 350 degrees.  I had been concerned that they might spread, so I did as I normally do anyway and put them in the freezer for about 10 minutes before putting them in the oven, and they didn't spread and held their shapes fantastically.  Here's the recipe with the adjustments:

  • 1 cup slightly softened vegan buttery sticks (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce + 1tsp baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 cups of flour (or to correct consistency)
Now, I don't think I would choose these over the regular version, but considering the constraints upon them, I think they turned out pretty tasty.  They also had a nice, soft consistency. This recipe made over 5 dozen, of course, 18 of those were baseball bats, which are relatively small in the grand scheme of things.

I wasn't sure about using meringue powder since he had an egg allergy, so I used a glaze and substituted water for the 2 tsps of milk the recipe  I had called for.  Of course, I still had to add a lot more, just like when I used milk the first time around with the goat cookies.  The recipe used almond extract, so  I just used vanilla instead. It dried fine and worked well, once I got used to the difference in it and the RI I am used to using. Here's the amended glaze recipe:

    1 cup confectioners' sugar

    2 teaspoons water  (keep adding until the consistency is right - it is way, way too thick per recipe)

    2 teaspoons light corn syrup

    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

    assorted food coloring

I didn't even have to haul out the big mixer for this - just quickly mixed it up with a fork in a bowl.

Here's how they turned out:

I didn't thicken the glaze enough for the stitching on the glove, but other than that, I think they turned out wonderfully.

These cookies were for a friend from my hometown, which is 1.75 hours away from me, and we were meeting halfway for her to get the cookies.  I was planning to do some cookies for my great nephew's second birthday this week and at the last minute decided I would do them in time to send them back to my hometown, where my great nephew now lives, with my friend as she was picking up the baseball cookies.  Because I found that the glaze was just as easy to work with as the Royal Icing I typically use, it mixes and colors super fast and it dries a lot faster, I decided to do his cookies using glaze as well.  I knocked these out in no time.  Although I had wanted to do sheriff's badges, too, I knew I wouldn't have time to get those done before I needed to leave, so I omitted them and just did these.  While they were dry to a light touch when I needed to leave, I wasn't comfortable stacking them just yet, so I used several containers and sent them in single layers because I know my sister-in-law will get my containers back to me.  Not bad for an hour's worth of decorating, huh?

I had become a bit of a Royal Icing snob over time, but after this experience, I think I'll use both Royal Icing and glaze from now on.  They each have their advantages over one another, but it is great to know that I have the option to choose depending on the circumstances and can achieve good results with both.  I will say, I do prefer the opaque finished look of Royal Icing to the somewhat translucent/shiny look of the glaze, but the speed of mixing and quick drying time of the glaze are really appealing to this person who has a tendency to wait until the last minute to do things!

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