Through countless centuries of culinary experimentation, the classic sugar cookie has truly withstood the test of time. Subtly evolving to keep pace with modern tastes, early European bakers might not recognize it anymore, but it truly hasn’t strayed far from its origins. Originally little more than a coarse, crumbly biscuit of flour, sugar, lard, and eggs, the first sugar cookies have more in common with thick slabs of pie dough than the frosting-slathered decadent morsels we tend to associate them with today.
It takes all sorts to soothe the sweet tooth, so while crunchy cut-outs with a buttery, shortbread-like consistency may stay truer to tradition, I prefer a softer incarnation. But balancing this desire with the demands of crafting a dough sturdy enough to hold its shape through rolling, cutting, baking, and beyond is no small task.
Luckily, ingredient innovations have changed the game in recent years, a new arsenal of previously unheard of flours unleashing textures and flavors unattainable by earlier cooks. Oh, so you want to know the secret ingredient that brings these cookies together? Sorghum flour.
Lending strength and toothsome density without additional gluten that would toughen the delicate dough, its subtly sweet, nutty essence only enhances the complexity of the nuanced flavor profile. Vanilla dominates with a gentle, floral rule, allowing each of the few elements to shine through. In such a simple cookie, every last addition counts. There’s nowhere to hide unsavory elements in this basic formula for dairy-free sugar cookies.
No, icing isn’t optional here, but that doesn’t mean that decorating needs to be a big ordeal. Just stick with a simple white base and keep it thick enough to pipe out neatly. Adding colors later on through tinted sugars and springs will bring the designs to life, without creating heaps of extra work, or dirty dishes to tackle later.
They may bear little resemblance to their early ancestors, but no matter how you cut them, soft, tender dairy-free sugar cookies deserve a place on the table for many years to come.
This recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, peanut-free, soy-free, tree nut-free, vegan and vegetarian. Just be sure to choose your ingredients wisely. Some dairy-free margarines do contain soy, but their are soy-free options, including two from Earth Balance. Also, many of the dairy-free margarine products do contain pea protein – consult a physician to ensure that peas are safe if peanut allergy is a concern for you.