Valentine’s Day for me evokes images of hearts and chocolate and red roses and pink candy grams. Everything is girly and cutesy and rose-hued, and the cookies are no exception. What is Valentine’s Day without heart-shaped sugar cookies? Nothing, that’s what. These vegan sugar cookies are simple to make and the icing is even easier. They’re the perfect medium to practice your cookie decorating techniques. So grab those cookie cutters and let’s have some fun!
Vegan sugar cookies are not that much different that the traditional version. We start by creaming together vegan butter and sugar, and instead of eggs we use the magical binding powers of Aquafaba, or the water from a can of chickpeas. This is something you should always have on hand for vegan baking, so never throw it down the drain ever again. I usually pour mine into an ice cube tray then pop them out and store in a freezer-safe bag so I never run out! This ingredient imparts no colour or flavour to these already delicate cookies, but it works just like eggs, possibly even better.
We also add vanilla extract, a touch of almond extract, and very important lemon zest. The lemon zest really elevated the delicate flavour of the dough and took it from great to truly outstanding. You don’t want to skimp on this ingredient. Once the dough is complete, we roll it out and chill it for a little bit so it firms up and the cookies are easier to cut out and hold their shape much better than if you were working with room temperature dough.
Once the dough is chilled, it’s time to cut out your sugar cookies! This is quite possibly my favourite part of the cookie making process. There’s something so satisfying about cutting through that dough and lifting up a perfect shape. I used three different sizes of heart-shaped cookie cutters, but you can use whatever size or shape you’d like, therefore the yield of this recipe will vary based on what you choose.
The cookies then bake in the oven for just 10 minutes or so, which is the perfect amount of time to make the icing. The icing recipe literally takes about 30 seconds to make. This is a quick icing, so keep in mind that it will not harden in the same way that royal icing hardens. We use a bit of maple syrup to give the icing a nice sheen, but the icing is still a little pliable even when fully dry, so you have to be careful when stacking the cookies. Make sure you fully cool the cookies before decorating, otherwise you’ll have a drippy mess on your hands. I don’t have specific cookie decorating tools, so I used squeeze bottles and toothpicks to create the designs on my sugar cookies. You can be as creative as you’d like with your decorations.
And that’s it! Impossibly cute heart-shaped vegan sugar cookies ready in a flash. This is the perfect cookie to bake as treats for your place of work, to give your kids to take to school, or for yourself to eat at home. I really hope you’ll give this recipe a try! Drop me a line in the comments to let me know what you think, and don’t forget to leave a rating! You can also tag your creations on Instagram with #whoneedssalad. Happy baking and happy Valentine’s Day!
- ¾ cup vegan butter (I use Earth Balance Baking Sticks)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp aquafaba
- 3 tbsp almond milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp almond extract
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 cups icing sugar
- 4 tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp almond milk
- ½ tsp almond extract
- vegan food colouring
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar. Add the aquafaba, almond milk, vanilla extract, almond extract, and lemon zest, and mix on medium speed until thoroughly combined.
- Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt, and use a wooden spoon or spatula to incorporate the flour into the wet mixture. Once it is mostly combined, use your hands to fully form the dough into a large ball. It should be a little crumbly, but not so dry that bits that break off do not stick back into the dough.
- Roll out the dough to ¼" thickness between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Set on a baking sheet and leave in the refrigerator to chill for 10-15 minutes. This will ensure that the cut-out cookies hold their shape. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Use cookie cutters to cut your cookies into desired shapes. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting shapes until you have used most of the dough. I was able to roll out my dough about 3 times overall without it becoming crumbly or overworked.
- Place the cut-out cookies on the baking sheets leaving about ¼-1/2" of space between them. They really don't spread so having cookies close together should not be a problem.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies are slightly coloured around the edges. You do not want them to be thoroughly browned on top.
- Let cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating. You can prepare the icing while the cookies cool.
- Place all the ingredients for the icing in a large bowl and mix with a fork until thoroughly combined. The consistency of the icing should be thick but will stream off a fork when lifted, not drip.
- Divide the icing between as many bowls as the number of icing colours you would like, and tint to desired colours.
- Transfer the icing to piping bags, zip-lock bags, or squeeze bottles and decorate cookies as desired.