Sunday, 16 October 2011

Fall Baking, Without the Pumpkin: Dairy Free Spice Cookies

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The air is biting, the leaves are turning, and the adolescent swans down on the canal are finally starting to turn white, which means two things: 1. the swans are currently a mottled grey-white, which is adorably hilarious, and 2. it's time to bust out the fall recipes!

Now, I'm not the most creative cook, so fall recipes, for me, usually just involve pumpkin.  I love pumpkin.  Pie, bread (or bread, or bread), muffins, oatmeal – you name it and put pumpkin in it, I'll eat it.   

But, as crazy as it may seem, there are times when I hesitate to use pumpkin.  Most of those times involve my desire to make something new and different (mostly for the sake of this here blog), but I'm also wary of eating too much pumpkin too soon, and getting sick of the flavor before the grand finale of Thanksgiving and my family's amazing pumpkin pie (as if I could ever get sick of pumpkin pie!).

Anyway, whatever the reason for going a different route, I'm usually happy I did.  Because fall means more than just squash; it means apples and spices and root vegetables and warm stews and spices... did I say spices twice?  That's because they're the best part of fall baking, or any baking, as far as I'm concerned!

Now, we all know I'm obsessed with cinnamon, but nutmeg and ginger and a hint of clove are also high up there on the list.  And there are other, less conventional spices on my to-try list, like cardamom and mace.  But for now, the fabulous four will suffice.

These cookies are like gingersnaps in that they use spices and molasses (or treacle), but they're rolled in sugar and instead of baking up all soft and chewy they crackle and come out pretty and crisp.  They're a thing of beauty – a thing of fall beauty, to be precise, all warm, rich hues and comforting spicy sweetness.  And, as a bonus, they're dairy free, and probably made vegan very easily.  So go make them, and then share them with everyone you know, and then go tromp through the leaves and have a hot drink and rub your hands together because it's just chilly enough to make your nose drip but not cold enough yet to justify wearing gloves.

Because that's what fall is all about, right?  Well, that and the baking.

Dairy-Free Spice Cookies
     barely adapted from Allrecipes

Preheat oven to 350F/180C.

In a large bowl, mix:
     2/3 cup vegetable oil
     1 cup white sugar

Add and beat well:
     1 egg

Stir in:
     1/4 cup molasses or dark treacle
     1.5 cups all-purpose flour
     2 teaspoons baking soda
     1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
     1 teaspoon ground ginger
     1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Stir well, adding more flour if necessary to make a firm dough (I didn't need any more flour).  Roll dough into small balls (about 1 inch) and roll in a wide, shallow bowl of white sugar.  Place 2 inches apart on a lined baking sheet and bake 12-14 minutes, until tops crack.  Let cool a minute on sheet and then move to rack to cool completely.

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