Chocolate + orange = a Christmas treat

Chocolate oranges always make me think of my dad. You know, the big balls of orange-flavored chocolate wrapped in orange foil that appear in stores before Christmas every year. Orange-flavored chocolate may be just about the only kind of chocolate my mom doesn’t absolutely adore, but my much-less-chocoholic dad loves chocolate oranges and he usually got one in his stocking on Christmas morning when we were growing up. These cookies were inspired by chocolate oranges, but unlike the candy, they are vegan and, in my opinion, even more scrumptious!

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Chocolate-wrapped Orange Cookies

Makes 1 ½ – 2 dozen.

Ingredients:

  • ½ c vegan margarine
  • ⅔ c (140 g) granulated sugar
  • orange zest from 1 large orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 ⅔ c (235 g) flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 c (175 g) vegan chocolate chips
  • ½ Tbsp vegetable shortening

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, combine the margarine, sugar, and orange zest. Using the stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat the mixture on high speed until fluffy, then mix in the vanilla and orange juice.

Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the bowl and mix on low speed or by hand until the ingredients are well combined.

Scoop tablespoonfuls of dough onto the baking sheet and partially flatten them with the heel of your hand to a thickness of about ½ to ¾ of an inch.

Bake the cookies for about 13 minutes or until the edges are firm to the touch and lightly browned. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cookies are cool, cover a baking sheet or a couple of plates with wax paper. Melt the chocolate chips and shortening together in a double boiler or (carefully) in the microwave in a shallow bowl. Mix well so that the shortening is evenly distributed throughout the molten chocolate. If using a double boiler, remove the chocolate mixture from the heat once melted and pour into a shallow bowl.

Taking one cookie at a time, drop it right-side-up into the chocolate so that the bottom is covered in chocolate. Remove the cookie from the chocolate and place it on the wax paper. Repeat for each cookie. You can use a spoon to drizzle any leftover chocolate over the tops of the cookies.

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Maple-frosted pumpkin cookies to spice up your (vegan) Halloween

Happy (almost) Halloween! For your entertainment this week, my dad supplied photos of some of my brother’s and my old costumes:

1992b
Weren’t we cute?!
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My mom made us these cowboy and cowgirl costumes. Check out those sweet sewing skills!
1996
Maybe Drew Bledsoe would enjoy a BIG bag of jelly beans after a tough game with the Pats!
1997a
I guess we were done with the cutesy costumes by this point 😉

Do you have a costume picked out for Halloween? More importantly, what are you excited to eat on Saturday?? Most Halloween candy isn’t vegan, but with this week’s cookie recipe, you won’t miss the candy! These pumpkin cookies are light, not-too-sweet shortbread cookies if you eat them plain. If you prefer a richer treat, frost with the maple buttercream frosting once the cookies are cool. You can even turn them into sandwich cookies by topping one frosted cookie with a second cookie.

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Pumpkin Cut-out Cookies

Makes 2 ½ – 3 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ c (55g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ c (55g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 c shortening (I recommend Spectrum non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening)
  • ½ c (120g) canned pumpkin
  • 1 c (140g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 c (140g) whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Combine sugars and shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Beat with the stand mixer or a hand mixer for 4-5 minutes, until the sugar-shortening mixture is light and fluffy. Add the pumpkin and mix until well-combined. Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl. Mix on the lowest mixer setting or by hand to combine the dry ingredients with the pumpkin mixture. You should end up with a somewhat stiff dough.

Gather the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper or a light coating of oil. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit for 5 minutes or so to soften slightly. In the meantime, lightly flour a work surface. Divide the dough into two pieces. Put one piece in the middle of the floured work surface, lightly flour the top of the dough, and then begin to flatten out the dough with your hands. Continue to flatten and roll out the dough with a rolling pin, flipping the dough over a couple of times in the process and adding small amounts of flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to either the work surface or the rolling pin. Roll out the dough until it has reached ¼” thickness.

Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes out of the dough. Place the shapes on the baking sheets and gather together the leftover scraps of dough. Set the scraps aside and take the second piece of dough from earlier. Repeat the process of rolling out the dough and cutting out shapes. Gather the leftover dough into a ball with the first collection of scraps, and roll this dough out again. Use only as much flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Cut out shapes one more time and transfer them to the baking sheets. Discard any remaining scraps; continuing to roll out the scraps will incorporate too much flour and the cookies will no longer be tender.

Bake the cookies for 7-9 minutes, or until the edges are firm and the tops are slightly golden. Let the cookies cool on the pans for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: The brown sugar in the cookies will gradually absorb moisture from the atmosphere as the cookies sit, causing them to soften and taste stale. If you are making these cookies in advance, particularly if you are serving them unfrosted, they are best stored in a plastic bag with most of the air squeezed out to minimize the cookies’ exposure to the atmosphere.

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Maple Buttercream Frosting

Makes about 2 cups.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c vegan margarine
  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp natural maple flavor
  • ½ tsp light-flavored molasses

Place the margarine in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Beat on high speed using the stand mixer or a hand mixer until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Add the powdered sugar in 1-cup increments, beating the margarine and sugar together after each addition. When all the powdered sugar has been added and the frosting is smooth, add the maple flavor and the molasses. Beat the frosting again until all ingredients are well-incorporated. Store frosting in the fridge until ready to use, then allow it to soften slightly before spreading.

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