Vanilla Honey Cut-Out Cookies

Valentine’s Day is coming up. There are lots of red and chocolate goodies on store shelves, but how about a less-sweet treat made with market honey or maple syrup? 

 Photos by Zachary Cross

Photos by Zachary Cross

Baking with honey or maple syrup can be a challenge, or at least have a learning curve. The rewards, in addition to using a local food item, can be an increase in flavor, and some say, nutrition. But it can be a challenge to bake with honey or maple syrup because of the flavor; white sugar adds sweetness while honey and maple syrup have their own flavors to balance with other ingredients. A bigger challenge is the liquid they add to a recipe. Typically when converting a recipe that uses granulated sugar expect to use ¾ the amount of liquid sweetening.

I’ve been enjoying cooking with honey and maple syrup and wanted to expand that to a cut out cookie. Rolled and cut cookies are something I love and something that frustrates me, even with a standard sugar cookie recipe. They don’t always roll, cut out, or bake well, but they can be so pretty and fun. These days I am baking for someone who is gluten-free as well. Knowing that I had at least two factors to alter, I looked for a whole new recipe to try.

Once I found Vanilla Honey Cut-Out Cookies from Not Just Apples I realized what the key would be here: no eggs. I’ve made a similar recipe in the past: Oatmeal Cookies with a Purpose from The More With Less Cookbook. The lack of egg in these recipes makes the dough less sticky. This is especially helpful in a recipe using a liquid sweetener.

This recipe is also flexible as to the type of flour used. It calls for a combination of brown rice and buckwheat flours, but not specifying the ratio between them. I’m not a big fan of rice flour and ending up using ⅓ each cornmeal (another market ingredient!), rice flour, and buckwheat flour. The texture is a little crunchy but the flavor is a nice balance. I imagine whole wheat flour, oat flour, and other slightly coarse flours would all work well.  

More important than type of flour is using the right amount. That is a little vague here, too. Use about a cup, then add more if you cannot form the dough into a ball. If you’re uncertain, start with a little less, bake one cookie, and add more flour if needed.

It’s important to chill the dough before rolling; roll small amounts at a time; and, if you want the cookies to keep their best shape, chill the cut cookies before baking. If you don’t mind the cookies spreading out a little go ahead and cook without chilling the cookies on the pan.

I used different spices than the recipe called for and made note of those changes below. I really like how the flavor combinations came out. One commenter describes this as “..a gluten-free digestive biscuit,” and it’s much like a thin shortbread. My older daughter says it would be good with a chocolate coating or frosting. While that sounds yummy, I plan to share a frosting recipe next week with a special ingredient.

cookies-7.jpg

Vanilla Honey Cut-Out Cookies

from Not Just Apples
sugar free and gluten free, makes 20-24, inspired by recipes to nourish

1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour (mix of buckwheat and brown rice flour)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
pinch baking soda

1. preheat oven to 350°.
2. cream together the honey, vanilla and butter in a large mixing bowl, using an electric hand whisk or food processor.
3. stir in the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.
4. using your hands, form into a ball, adding more flour if necessary.
5. place in the fridge to chill for 30 mins, if you have the time.
6. roll out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, until about 1/4 cm thick.
7. cut out with your favorite cookie cutter. place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
8. bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until starting to go golden around the edges.
9. remove from the oven, leave to cool for 5 minutes, then lift carefully from the paper and move to a cooling rack for 30 minutes.
10. enjoy with a cup of tea, or wrap in a pretty bag tied up with ribbon to give to someone special!

cook's notes: you can omit the cinnamon, salt and soda if you choose. or replace the cinnamon with your favorite spice, like nutmeg, clove, caraway or ginger. feel free to use your favorite flour in this recipe, ground oats or barley would work well.

Heather’s notes: I made one recipe with honey, one with maple syrup. They were each delicious in their own way. In the honey recipe I used vanilla extract and ground coriander (in place of the cinnamon). In the maple syrup recipe I used almond extract and ground cardamom. In each recipe I used baking powder in place of soda, to avoid a potential metallic flavor. The less flour you use the sweeter they will be, but the more they will spread. Frost or glaze as desired. Left out on a dry day these were crispy. I imagine humidity or storing tightly covered would make them soft.

Printable recipe here

Heather Cross