I did it. Finally, I have made vegan and gluten-free version of Cream Cheese Cutouts that tastes good, rolls properly, and bakes up soft and slightly puffy, just like I remembered. Why the spelling differences? Mine are Cream Cheeze Cutouts due to fake animal products; Ownie Mom’s are Cream Cheese Cutouts, since hers are traditional wheat flour, egg, and dairy, etc.
Even more importantly, for my birthday (yesterday–yes, it’s Halloween), my father-in-law gave me a KitchenAid stand mixer, and the first thing I made was successful cookies!
My first attempt at these in 2011 yielded mystery cookies. I don’t think they were GF because I didn’t eliminate gluten from my diet until the weekend after Easter in 2011. No, I didn’t keep eating gluten through Easter that year because I wanted to be able to eat the Easter treats, and quite frankly I think it’s dumb to put yourself at digestive risk just so you can enjoy traditional holiday foods when you have food allergies and sensitivities. A moment on the lips, forever inflaming the small intestine and esophagus, seriously. The rashes and digestive upset just really began to wear on me after Easter that year, so I said “Screw you, I wouldn’t” to gluten. Then I began writing this blog. /rant
These mystery blob cookies tasted good, and my co-workers ate them (with glaze), but they were not cream cheeze cutouts. Back to the drawing board.
Sadly, I do not seem to have a picture of the absolute gems Ownie Mom makes out of this recipe. For Easter and Fourth of July and sometimes my birthday, she made/still makes these cookies and decorates them. I am not a visual artist, nor do I pretend to be one, so I barely decorate anything I make (including my birthday cake this year, but more on this later).
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
- 1 cup vegan shortening, softened
- 1 8-oz package vegan cream cheese
- 1 cup coconut sugar, blitzed to powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 1/2 cups GF oat flour
- 1/2 cup teff flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca starch
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- In a small measuring cup, whisk together warm water and ground flaxseed and set aside.
- In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer and a large bowl, beat together softened shortening and cream cheeze.
- Add coconut sugar and beat till fluffy.
- Add flaxseed mixture and extracts, beat well.
- In a separate medium bowl, sift then whisk together flours, xanthan gum, baking powder.
- Beat flour mixture into cream cheese mixture in three additions.
- Mix till well combined.
- Divide dough in half and wrap large disks of dough in plastic.
- Chill about 1 1/2 hours (I’m serious, chill it).
- After the dough has chilled for 1 1/2 hours, remove from the fridge and let it warm up until it’s soft enough to roll.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line three baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.
- Roll dough 1/8 inch thick and cut with cookie cutters.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies have browned on the edges and the middles spring back a bit (they puff but don’t spread much).
- Cool cookies on the pans for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.
- Decorate completely cooled cookies as desired.
- If you’re Q and don’t have vanilla extract (tragedy), then use a teaspoon of liqueur of choice (I used ginger liqueur).
The rest of the cookies:
My birthday cake:
The original plan was to make a vanilla cake from mix, and TC was going to make it for me. Time crunch being what it was, I made the mix cake on Thursday night. To compound my suspicion of mixes, we picked up a vegan egg replacer that contained chia seeds and chickpea flour. Needless to say, like my wedding cake, it made the mix cake taste chickpea-y. If you’re a longtime reader of this blog, you will understand how much I loathe, detest, abhor, and despise chickpea flour in anything but poppadoms, especially in vegan and gluten-free sweet treats. And everyone and their mom (but not my mom!) uses chickpea flour in VGF baked goods. Sure, I could’ve gotten a vegan and GF mix right from the start and bypassed the egg replacer issue, but then I wouldn’t have had a vanilla cake.
As it was, mix cake (it was Bob’s Red Mill) turned out nasty-sweet, and I froze it for another time. Plan B: Carrot Cake. While mix cake was baking, I had already made cream cheeze frosting. We had a huge bag of carrots for the boeuf and veg bourguignons, so I mixed up the dry and the wet ingredients separately and assembled the whole shebang the next day. Turned out delicious and to much acclaim, as usual. Lesson learned: go with an old standby.
Cake (and today’s cookies) was made under the influence of Some Things are Beyond Therapy by Ludovico Technique. I’ve mentioned it at least twice on other social media, but I’m obsessed with that band!
My 425th Birthday Party was on Friday. As mentioned above, TC made boeuf bourguignon, tempeh bourguignon, roasted fingerling potatoes, and salad for a party of eight. We all dressed up as vampires and wore powdered/period wigs.
I was Claudia from Interview with the Vampire, one of my favourite books and movies (I do like The Vampire Lestat better, though).
The bottom shelf of our fridge doesn’t allow for much air circulation, so these potatoes froze and are currently getting mashercized.
A bit of reflection: Thus far, age 25 is off to a good start, with successful cookie-making. I began this blog when I was 20, and it has been one heck of a trip from then to now. Actually, when I turned 21, it was the beginning of a long descent that didn’t resolve until I turned 24. So I’m glad that’s over.
As I was reading an article about how to maintain new habits (I’m a wellness professional; I read articles like that all the time), there was some good ol’ New Age advice (or at least I’ve seen this advice in recovery literature and New Age self-help): act as if. Fake it ’til you make it. Someone once told me that a relapse (in the case of that specific discussion, eating disorder relapse) can happen anytime. You’re never free of it or the habits that lead to it. Well, gee, that’s entrapping thinking!
Why not think positive, helpful, empowering thoughts instead of “I’m going to relapse anyway, so fuck it.” I believe it is possible to un-learn harmful habits, and they’re best un-learned when they’re replaced by helpful habits. The article (actually it was a booklet from a vendor) I was reading last week emphasized that in order to maintain a new healthy habit, you must change your outlook on yourself. You see yourself as a person who gets up early in the morning. You’re a person who occasionally indulges in a treat. The new habit is part of your personality; it’s part of who you are to do X habit. Act like you’re a person who has all the tools you need to address stress in a healthy and constructive manner. Ani Trime, the spiritual leader of Princeton Buddhist Meditation Group, used to talk about grooves versus ruts. You get stuck in ruts, but a groove is good and makes practice (and life) more bearable.
So with this collection of New Age, vaguely religious, self-help advice, I take my leave. See, I’ve learned something in a quarter of a century!