There was a small part of me that was tempted to leave the entire blog post at that, and then maybe just have a picture of me running outside with glee and joy (we can go outside again!), but fear not dear reader, I will still regale you with my usual weekly nonsense (but also include a picture of not-me running outside 🙂 ):
These cookies manage to do double (or possibly even triple) duty for me this week. 1) Spring!!!!! (see start of post), 2) My mom’s birthday and 3) Blog postiness. When I started thinking about all three of those things, I got to musing on what is the essence of a dessert that embodies spring, my mom and could have a little visual panache as well. I know my mom’s a fan of anise and ginger – unless that’s changed mom? In which case, I’m sorry 🙁 (although I still blame you for my years of ginger hatred after the unfortunate – “I”m going to put a gadgillion pounds of ginger into this – my kids’ll love it!” 😉 (FYI – the gadgillion pounds is a rough estimate, give or take a couple zillion pounds) Luckily I have grown out of my dislike of ginger and have not only learned to embrace it, but I’ve also been known to sometimes slip it a little tongue on a Saturday night 😉 )
All that being said, I decided on making ginger cookies. But these aren’t just your everyday ho-hum “let’s put some cinnamon, ginger and molasses in a cookie and call it a day.” That would be ridiculous and not even worth mentioning. I amped these up a bit by adding some chopped ginger in syrup (which I rinsed off because I didn’t want it to be too sweet), some anise oil as well as the usual suspects. Moving on to the spring element, I wanted to include a bright and fresh flavour, so I made an orange cream cheese frosting (with a small hit of Grand Marnier). Then, since crushed Oreos are accidentally vegan and look like dirt (see: any website search of “dirt dessert”, I am not a genius in this regard whatsoever). Finally, I topped it with a marzipan flower. This was a great opportunity for me to do this since I’ve only really ever used marzipan chopped up in a dessert, not in any sort of decorative sense. What did I learn from this experience? Why haven’t I been doing this before, it was one of the easiest arty things I’ve ever done! Full disclosure – anyone who knows me at all knows that my artistic abilities are zero (My stick figure drawings have been made fun of just to give you a general sense), so if I can do this, you can do this. Let the world rejoice that mini cookie cutters exist, because there’s no way that I could’ve free-hand cut out flower shapes.
Yield: 30 mini cookies (if you made them full size or large cookies, you’d probably get about 15)
- 1/2 cup vegan butter
- 3/4 brown sugar
- 1 egg replacer (I use Pane Riso egg replacer because that’s what they have at my grocery store)
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 8-10 drops of super concentrated anise oil (got this at my local bulk food store)
- 1 1/2 cups flour (or flower 😉 just kidding, use flour)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 cup rinsed ginger in syrup chopped into very small chunks
- 15 oreos crushed (can do this by putting them in a freezer bag and rolling with a rolling pin, or give them a whir in the food processor)
- 1/2 package of marzipan at room temperature
- Red coloured dust decorating powder (again, got this at my local bulk food store. You could probably just use red food colouring or a few drops of beet juice instead, it just won’t get quite as red. I didn’t really want to add liquid, that’s the only reason I didn’t do that).
Orange Cream Cheese Icing:
- 3 tablespoons vegan cream cheese
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter
- zest of one orange
- 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (or any orange flavoured liqueur, or just orange juice if you want it alcohol-free)
- 2 cups icing sugar
1. Preheat oven to 325F. In a medium sized bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg replacer and molasses and mix until combined. Carefully add in the anise oil. It’s a really concentrated flavour, so once you mix it in feel free to add more if you want a stronger flavour.
2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and ground cloves.
3. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the wet mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in ginger pieces.
4. Chill the dough for 15 minutes.
5. With a small cookie scoop (or using a teaspoon), roll dough into balls and place on a cookie sheet a couple of inches apart. Using your hand or the back of a glass, flatten the cookies.
6. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until edges are just starting to brown (be careful not to over bake).
7. While these are cooling, make the orange cream cheese icing. Beat together the cream cheese, butter, orange zest and Grand Marnier.
8. Add the icing sugar in a few batches, fully incorporating between each batch. Chill in the refrigerator while preparing the Marzipan flowers.
9. Set aside about a teaspoons-worth of the marzipan which you will leave uncoloured for the center of the flowers. Flatten the rest of the marzipan and make a small well in the center. Mix in about a half teaspoon (or less) of the red dust and mix it in with your fingers by kneading the ball of marzipan in your hands until the colour is fully distributed.
10. On an icing-sugar coated surface, flatten out the marzipan with a rolling pin until fairly thin (a few millimeters). I like to lay either a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap over the marzipan before rolling to avoid having it stick.
11. Cut out flower shapes in the marzipan using a mini flower cookie cutter.
12. Assembly: Once cookies are completely cooled, spread a thin layer of the icing on the cookie, sprinkle with Oreo cookie “dirt”. Place a small dollop of icing on the back of the flower and gently press into the top of the cookie. Roll a very scant amount of the uncoloured marzipan into a small ball, and gently press into the centre of the flower.
13. Store in the refrigerator.