The holidays just aren’t the holidays without a selection of fun, frosted cookies for festive nibbling – but if you’re watching your sugar intake, making those cookies happen can seem neigh-on impossible. Never fear, Eat Healthy’s here, with recipes for cut-out cookies and a cool, sparkly frosting to match – both of which cut the sugar in comparable recipes in half.
Sparkling Cinnamon Cut-Outs
makes about 30-40 cookies, depending on size
1/2 cup vegetable shortening or non-dairy margarine, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup sweetener (either Stevia In The Raw or sucralose)
1 ripe banana, well mashed with a pinch of cornstarch
2 tablespoons soymilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt or salt substitute
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the shortening, sugar and sweetener until light and fluffy. Add the mashed banana mixture and cream that in, then switch to a sturdy spoon to stir in the soymilk and vanilla.
In a medium bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients and whisk them together well. Stir these into the creamed mixture until everything’s well combined. Gather the dough up, divide it into two patties, wrap them in plastic and refrigerate them for at least a few hours, or preferably overnight.
When you’re ready to roll out the dough and form the cookies, heat the oven to 350 degrees. On a wax-papered and lightly floured surface, roll one of the patties out to about 1/4″ thickness and cut it using cookie cutters. Place the cookies about an inch apart on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on how fierce your oven is. Mine tends to be a little on the fierce side, so I err on the side of a shorter bake time. While those cookies are baking, get ready for the next round by gathering up the dough scraps, forming them into a ball, rolling and cutting again. Repeat until you’ve used as much of the dough as you can.
If you’d like to make your cookies into edible ornaments, use a toothpick or bamboo skewer to poke small holes in opportune places near the tops of the cookies after placing them on the cookie sheet. Once they’re out of the oven and fully cooled, you may want to make the holes a little bigger by revisiting them with your sharp implement. This was the point at which I strung my cookies with jute cord, prior to frosting, which worked fine. However, I now know that the frosting sets up very firm, so I recommend frosting before stringing the cookies. Speaking of frosting…
Sparkling Holiday Cookie Frosting
1 cup sucralose
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon soymilk (more if needed)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
food coloring (the frosting dries lighter than it appears before set)
Combine the sucralose, sugar and cornstarch in a blender or food processor. Pulse them together until the mixture resembles a slightly grainy powdered sugar. Dump the mixture into a medium bowl, add the vanilla, and stir in just enough soymilk to thin the frosting. I made mine thin enough to be painted on with a brush. If you’d like to tint your frosting, divide it into cups and add food coloring as you like. Heads up – what appears to be red and green in the cups will dry pastel pink and mint. Paint on the frosting, and decorate the cookies as you like. If you want to make designs, let one round of frosting dry before adding another. Fortunately, the frosting dries quickly, so the process is pretty quick. I found that using a bamboo skewer (a toothpick would do nicely, too) was the most effective way of making patterns on the cookies. Let the cookies rest on a cooling rack with something under it to catch any dripped frosting. The bit of sugar in the frosting will start to take on a sparkly effect as the cookies dry.
Leave those cookies alone for about an hour to ensure they’re totally dry. If you’re not making them into edible ornaments, bang, you’re done. If you are, now’s the time to string them up with lengths of thin ribbon, yarn, jute chord, or whatever you’d like. As I mentioned earlier, I did this step before frosting, which worked fine but I suspect added a needless element of difficulty to the proceedings.
These cookies keep well for at least a week, so you’ll have plenty of time to use these as a cool, cute pre-holiday edible decoration.