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  • Writer's pictureKelly

Vegan Date-Sweetened Grain-Free Iced "Sugar" Cookies (Vegan, Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free)

Time for an addictively tasty, addictively healthy dessert that's perfect year-round: cutout sugar cookies! Except these aren't your typical sugar cookies (*cue dramatic music*). For starters, they're a paradox; they're "sugar" cookies without the sugar. Here, refined sugar isn't the star of the show, but instead Medjool dates take the leading role. So you don't have to worry about any type of sugar, refined or unrefined, here! What's more, these sugar cookies are 100% grain-free (hey almond flour and coconut flour!) and are completely vegan. Plus, the optional glaze for these cutout cookies is colored using natural/vegan/sugar-free food coloring. As if that wasn't enough, these cookies are soft-baked and are mouth-wateringly good! You'll be hooked after the first cookie, and I highly recommend making the sugar-free glaze, as it really brings the flavor to a whole nother level. Let the guilt-free baking begin!



So you may be wondering, why do I have pictures of holiday-shaped cutout sugar cookies in the middle of summer? Because I wanted to celebrate Christmas in July at home somehow, so my celebration was baking these and my Date-Sweetened Peppermint Bark Brownies (recipe coming soon!). But these cookies can easily be enjoyed any season, just use cookie cutters that match the time of year (as long as they're 4" cookie cutters) or you can just cut out these cookies into circles using the rim of a 4"-diameter drinking glass turned upside down.


I was surprised to find that there were literally zero recipes for sugar cookies sweetened with dates on the internet before I made this recipe. Absolutely none. There were "healthier" sugar cookie recipes that used raw sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, erythritol, and seemingly everything but dates. Then again, I guess people don't exactly think "dates" when they hear the name "sugar cookies"... It didn't stop me from pioneering the way for fruit-sweetened sugar cookies though!



The glaze for these "sugar" cookies is made using Swerve Confectioners sweetener, but I have included other sweetener options for the glaze in the "Substitutions" section of this post. And these cookies are sweet and tasty enough on their own without a glaze, so that's an option too! As far as natural/vegan/gluten-free/sugar-free food coloring goes, I recommend using Color Garden's natural food colors (which come in single-use liquid packets) and/or Supernatural's natural food colors (which come in multi-use packets of powder that are hydrated in water before use).



Nutritional Profile of Vegan Date-Sweetened Grain-Free Iced "Sugar" Cookies


Vegan butter- vegan butter is typically made of healthy vegetable oils (like Earth Balance) or plant milks and/or coconut oil (like Miyoko's). Vegetable oils are rich in healthy fats that are good for your brain, heart, skin, and hair. Plant milks are packed with protein, healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamins & minerals that benefit your muscles, nervous system, heart, and overall health. Make sure you ARE NOT buying margarine. While it can be vegan, it is made from hydrogenated oils and therefore is loaded with unhealthy trans fat that has a direct link to heart disease. You're best to steer clear of any butter substitute, dairy-free or not, that contains hydrogenated oils. Earth Balance and Miyoko's are two healthy vegan butter options that DON'T contain hydrogenated vegetable oils.


Dates- dates are antioxidant powerhouses that are loaded with fiber, protein, iron, potassium, and other vitamins & minerals. Dates can help prevent anemia, promote a healthy gut, benefit heart health, and may help reduce the severity of some PMS symptoms. My favorite variety of date (as you probably already know) is the Medjool date, or the "King of Dates", which is known for its large size, sweetness, and rich, caramel-like taste. When comparing Medjool dates and Deglet Noor dates (the two most popular types of dates in the U.S.), Medjools tend to be sweeter and larger yet have less calories than Deglet Noor dates.


Flaxseed- flaxseed (and thus flax eggs, which are just flaxseed meal + water) are brimming with fiber, healthy fats (including omega-3s), protein, and iron. Flaxseed aids digestion, can help lower cholesterol and triglycerides, can help build muscle, helps promote a healthy complexion, and can help prevent anemia. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to heart, brain, joint, eye, metabolism, immune, skin, and hair health.


Almond flour- almond flour is a great source of healthy fats, fiber, protein, iron, vitamin E, and antioxidants. Healthy fats help you maintain healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as nourish your brain cells and help keep skin & hair healthy. Fiber benefits the GI tract, protein helps build muscle, iron is important to prevent anemia, vitamin E is an antioxidant that is good for your complexion, and antioxidants help ward off disease. Almond flour is an excellent keto, paleo, and grain-free flour option, as it is naturally low-carb and free of grains. Opt for blanched superfine almond flour (blanched simply means that the brown skins on the almonds are removed before making the flour).


Coconut flour- coconut flour is rich in healthy fats, fiber, protein, iron, fatty acids, and beneficial plant compounds. Coconut flour aids digestion, promotes brain & heart health, protects against anemia, may help aid weight loss, may help regulate blood sugar, and may have antimicrobial properties. Coconut flour is another keto- and paleo-friendly flour that is low in carbohydrates.


Sea salt- sea salt is better for you than table salt because table salt tends to be much more highly processed. Sea salt helps balance electrolytes, nourishes the adrenal glands, and provides the body with minerals and other micronutrients. Try purchasing Himalayan pink sea salt, Celtic sea salt, or another healthy sea salt.



Substitutions


You can use any kind of salted or unsalted vegan butter for these cookies, such as Earth Balance or Miyoko's, but you can't really replace it with another ingredient as the butter forms the base of these cookies. The Medjool dates can be replaced with any other kind of date such as Deglet Noor. I haven't tried this recipe with a keto sweetener, but my guess is that 1 cup plus more to taste of Granular Swerve OR pure erythritol would work here. Or you could try coconut sugar, maple sugar, maple syrup, agave, date syrup, pure monk fruit, pure stevia, or another sweetener (but I haven't tried these cookies with any of these sweeteners and don't know how much should be used). The flax egg can be substituted with one chia egg or 3 Tbsp aquafaba (chickpea brine). You may use scraped vanilla bean, vanilla extract, ground vanilla bean powder, or sugar-free vanilla bean paste. Or you can leave out the vanilla entirely and use coconut extract, almond extract, lemon extract, maple extract, etc. (get creative!).


The almond flour and coconut flour cannot be swapped out because they contribute greatly to the structure of these cookies. The tapioca flour can be substituted with arrowroot flour/starch. For those of you who are just gluten-free and not grain-free and can't have coconut and/or almond flour (because of almonds/tree nuts), don't worry I will be posting a recipe eventually that's made with gluten-free flour as opposed to grain-free flours! The baking soda and baking powder can't be replaced as they are the leaveners in these cookies. The sea salt can be swapped out with table salt.


For the glaze, you may use a powdered erythritol blend or any other 1-to-1 powdered artificial sweetener instead of the Swerve. Alternately, you can use 1/2 cup unsweetened plant milk mixed with 3 Tbsp of date paste and mix in enough natural food coloring until your reach your desired color (although please note: if you go with this option, the glaze will not harden as with a powdered sugar/powdered sugar alternative). And if you can have sugar on your diet, another option is to sub organic powdered sugar for the Swerve. You can use any kind of unsweetened or sweetened (if you can have sugar) plant milk in the glaze. There really isn't a substitute for the vegan/gluten-free/sugar-free/natural food coloring (unless you make your own natural food dye). I suppose you could try something like a small pinch of turmeric for orange/yellow or a small pinch of blue spirulina for aquamarine blue (NOTE: I have not tried the recipe this way and can't guarantee good results). And of course you don't necessarily have to color your glaze, the glaze on these cookies will look and taste gorgeous without added color.



Weekly Sneak Peek...


Some recipes I've been working on/have perfected recently include:


-Date-Sweetened Coconut Milk Ice Cream

-No-Pectin Fruit-Sweetened Cherry Chia Jam/Preserves

-Keto Vegan Almond Butter Granola

-Moist Date-Sweetened Vanilla Bean Cupcakes (w/ Rosewater Buttercream Frosting)

-Pistachio Rose Ricotta Cupcakes ..


AND MORE!!


I hope you all love these cookies, I guarantee they'll be an instant hit!


Enjoy!

-K.



Vegan Date-Sweetened Grain-Free Iced "Sugar" Cookies (Vegan, Grain-Free, Gluten Free, Sugar-Free, Fruit-Sweetened)


Prep Time: 45 minutes

Chill Time: at least 1 hour

Cook Time: 8 to 10 minutes

Total Time: at least 1 hour 53 minutes

Servings: about 30 cookies


Ingredients:


-1/2 cup vegan butter (like Earth Balance or Miyoko's)

-1 1/2 cups Medjool dates

-1 flax egg (check out Minimalist Baker's "How to Make a Flax Egg" post!)

-2 tsp vanilla extract OR 1 tsp pure ground vanilla bean powder OR 1 1/2 tsp sugar-free coconut extract OR 1 1/2 tsp almond extract

-1 cup superfine almond flour (DO NOT pack)

-1/2 cup coconut flour

-1/2 cup tapioca flour

-1/4 tsp baking soda

-1/4 tsp baking powder

-1/8 tsp sea salt


For the glaze:


-2 cups Swerve Confectioners Sugar Replacement (see "Substitutions" section of this post for alternatives)

-3 Tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk (can sub unsweetened plant milk of choice)

-few drops of natural food coloring (such as Color Garden or Supernatural)


Directions:


1. Soak the dates in hot water for 5 to 15 minutes. Line two or three large baking sheets with parchment paper or large silicone baking mats.


2. Add the soaked and drained dates to a food processor and blend until they form a paste.


3. Soften the vegan butter in the microwave for 5 to 7 seconds.


4. Add the vegan butter and date paste to a large bowl and cream together manually using a wooden spoon.


5. Add the flax egg and vanilla (or other extract) and stir to combine.


6. Add the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and stir until a batter forms.


7. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour, or until it's firm enough to roll out.


8. Once the dough is done chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the dough out onto a piece of wax paper. Place another piece of wax paper on top of the dough (for easy cleanup).


9. Roll out the dough between the two pieces of wax paper to about 1/4" thickness uniformly.


10. Flour 4" cookie cutters and cut out the dough into the shapes of your choice.


11. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a lined baking sheet.


12. Re-roll, cut, and transfer the dough, chilling in between (if it gets too soft) as needed, until there's no dough left.


13. Bake in the preheated oven (at 350 degrees F) for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies are slightly puffed up and lightly golden brown on the outer edges and underneath (this can be hard to judge because the cookies are beige, so check the underside for a golden brown color).


14. Allow the cookies to cool completely. While the cookies are cooling, make the glaze.


15. For the glaze: Mix the Swerve and plant milk in a large bowl until a thick, yet liquid glaze is formed. If making colored glazes, portion out some of the white colored glaze into separate bowls for each color you want to use (make sure you save some of the white glaze for decorating, if desired!). Add a few drops of each different color of natural food coloring you want to use to each bowl (start with a little), and keep adding more until you reach your desired color(s). Once the cookies are completely cooled, decorate them with your white and/or colored glazes and allow the glaze to harden. Add multiple coats of glaze, if you wish.


16. Serve with unsweetened plant milk, hot tea or coffee, or have on its own. Enjoy!


Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.


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