Sunday, 16 October 2011

Oatmeal cutout cookies: on the good ship lollypop

When I put Sylvia to bed, she often likes to ask what I will make for her.  She means baking.  Some days she is more specific.  She asks me to make lollypops.  A pink one for dolly, a purple one for me and a green one for you, she tells me.  I picked her up from child care the other day.  She had told her carer that we were going to make her yellow lollypops.

I think this lollypop obsession came out of my recent cake pops.  Maybe not.  In the newsagents she loves to play with the display of lollypops.  Yesterday at my parents' place I found her hiding in the loungeroom sucking on a lollypop she had found.

I find cake pops fun.  If only they weren't so sweet.  They also use lots of chocolate.  Not an everyday treat.  I have been thinking about how I could healthify lollypops for Sylvia.  Then it hit me.  Biscuits on a stick.  A la cookie wands.

I found an old bookmarked recipe.  In the spirit of Vegan MoFo I veganised it.  The recipe appealed because there was no chilling the dough and it had a bit of texture.   I find buttery sugary biscuits dull.  I need some flavour or texture to interest me.  I used a flax egg.  Instead of water I used maple syrup for some extra flavour.

The hardest thing about making the recipe was trying to make different colours.  I was avoiding artificial colours.  Instead I used beetroot powder for pink and matcha powder for green.  I also considered tumeric or saffron for yellow.  Two colours were my limit.  I made two half-batches of dough.  The best thing about not using eggs is that it is so much easier to halve a flax egg.

It was a great dough to work with.  The pink looked like raw minced meat (euwww) when I was working with it.  It was pale and pretty when it baked.  The green was a bit murky.  Natural dyes do not make dayglo colours.  Sylvia was very pleased (ie she wanted to eat them all).  I put her to bed for her nap.  When she awoke we decorated the biscuits.

I am not a fan of icing.  It is just boring sweetness.  No nutritional value.  I am always looking for alternatives.  I found a guide to frosting without artificial colours at My Real Food Life.  Worth a try.  Coconut oil, nut butter and maple syrup.  It tasted delicious, though too sweet. 

We coloured it with beetroot powder, matcha powder and a few extra artificial green colourings.  We decorated the "lollypops" with sugar sprinkles that I buy when temptation is too much.  I minimise rather eliminate sugar in my kitchen.

This icing was amazingly creamy.  One problem.  It just wouldn't set.  Even after a day, it was still sticky.  I have put most of the lollypops in the freezer.  I love their gaudiness.   To look at.  Not to eat.  Sylvia would gobble them all up.  Not a good thing either.  They have defrosted ok but the frosting is still soft.

As for the biscuits.  I loved them.  The texture of the oatmeal is more to my liking than plain old flour.  They are rather sweet.  In an interesting way.  The beetroot and matcha powders have some flavour.  I think I would prefer the bikkies without either.  I did have visions of covering them in chocolate.  That is normal, right?  I suspect I shouldn't mess with them.  They are very good just as they are.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe
This time last year: Pate, Goslings and Bubbies
This time two years ago: HoTM: Chocolate Sesame Cookies
This time three years ago: Broad Bean Pesto

Vegan oatmeal cutout cookies

Adapted from Avenue Food 
Makes approximately 6 dozen small cookies

4 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp ground linseeds (ground flax)
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup plain white flour
1 cup wholemeal plain flour
1/2 cup soy flour
1/2 cup raw sugar
couple of pinches of salt
180g margarine at room temperature
2 tablespoons milk (I used soy)
2 tsp beetroot powder for pink or 2 tsp matcha for green
1 cup rolled oats or oatmeal

Preheat the oven to 190 C or 375 F.  Line a few baking trays with baking paper or grease them.  Mix maple syrup and ground linseeds in a small bowl and set aside while you get other ingredients together.  If you have rolled oats (as I did) grind to oatmeal in the blender or food processor and set aside. 

Place flours, baking powder, salt, margarine, sugar, milk, beetroot or matcha powder and the maple-linseed mixture in a large bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the mixture comes together.  (Mine went through 3 phases - 1) floury, 2) a loose cauliflower-like texture with lots of flour down the bottom 3) it comes together into a ball of dough - actually most of mine caught in my beaters.)  Stir in oats.  I then kneaded it a bit with my hands to incorporate the oats properly but I didn't see that it said to beat another minute.

Roll dough to 0.5cm (or1/4”).  I rolled mine between sheets of baking paper which made it easier.  It didn't need any flour.  Cut into desired shapes.  If you want them on a stick, carefully push a stick in before placing on the prepared trays.  Place cutouts onto trays and bake for 12 minutes.  Decorate with your favorite icing, if desired (I don't think it necessary personally).  Can be frozen.

Maple Nut Frosting
adapted from My Real Food Life

1/4 cup coconut oil
1 heaped dessertspoon of almond butter
2 tbsp maple syrup (or much less)

Mix in food processor.  Caution.  I found this frosting very sweet and it didn't really set so maybe it was too much maple syrup.  Next time I would start with a tsp of maple syrup.  It did spread beautifully.

On the Stereo:
Va Va Voom: Hummingbirds

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2011.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more Vegan MoFo posts.

15 comments:

  1. She is such a cutie, can almost hear her saying those words after our last conversation about fave colours. Such a great idea to use cookies, they look so pretty. I might attempt some sort of lollypops for wed night :-)

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  2. You are so creative, that top picture is a work of art - just love it. It's just great how you try to make things as healthy as possible for Sylvia but still give her treats. My baking would change radically if I had a small child in the house. I really like the flavour of matcha, but you have to use quite a bit of it to really make a difference I've found. I must try and get hold of beetroot powder - I do not use artificial colourings or flavourings if I can help it.

    Looking at the ingredients of your icing, I can't see how it would set as it is made up entirely of wetish ingredients - a dilemma. I know you didn't want to use chocolate, but maybe you could make a water ganache with dark chocolate which would have very little sugar in it. All very interesting.

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  3. These are BEAUTIFUL!!! You are so talented! Sylvia is very lucky to have such a gifted culinary teacher!

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  4. I love reading about your thought processes when making these bakes - always searching to make them healthier and more interesting. I have to confess I am more of a traditionalist when it comes to sugar and sweetness (i.e. I like it!) but seeing what you do always inspires me to think differently!

    These look fabulous - I bet you and Sylvia had a great time decorating them!

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  5. Watch you go on your vegan challenge, I am ever so impressed. Great cookie wands too, what little girl wouldn't love one of these, sticky icing or not. They look like great fun.

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  6. They're lovely! I've found the same thing with more natural frostings (though I don't consider that a problem, as I usually want my frosting soft). And I totally agree about flax eggs--part of why I prefer baking with them!

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  7. oh my - these look fantastic! What a great job!

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  8. Healthier biscuits on a stick! A great idea for converting a favourite treat. I guess a stick makes for easier eating in little hands.

    I was interested to see that the dough baked nicely onto the stick, since doughs tend to change consistency in the oven. It's surely better than trying to poke a stick into a crumbly biscuit afterwards anyway. :-D

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  9. They look fantastic Johanna and the beetroot powder gives it a pretty blush too! :D

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  10. Fantastic - and I love the colouring. I'd never have thought of either actually (I'd probably have tried strawberry juice or something for pink, which would have added too much liquid!). I think it's very normal to dream of extra chocolate, but as you say - these may be good enough as is :)

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  11. My kids would love these. I like the nap tactic to avoid the "when can we ice them", over and over in best whinging voice. My favourite lollypops (ie no guilt) are chunks of frozen banana on a stick. They should even be affordable soon.....

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  12. How cute are these - and healthy too!

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  13. What a great idea Johanna. Sylvia is a lucky girl to have such a lovely mummy as you :)

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  14. Thanks K - I am sure that Sylvia would love it if you brought along lollypops

    Thanks Choclette - getting the healthy-treats balance is not an easy one - but you are right that my baking has changed since having her about - I feel that I should take more responsibility in what I choose for her than what I choose for myself - I am no expert on icing because I don't like it a lot so it is hard to know how to deal with her love of it - I guess I loved it more as a child!

    Thanks Astra - very kind

    Thanks C - it was fun - I think I sometimes love playing with food like this than eating it - I think that the more I experiment with healthy alternatives that more I understand why we have all the sugar and wheat traditions - and writing about it helps me reflect on it

    Thanks Chele - I think I would have loved these as a child esp the sparkles

    Thanks Ricki - I understand that there are places where soft frostings are best - and they taste better to me but I would love to find a hard setting one for biscuits as it is easier to keep them this way - I did look at some of your truffle coatings and might need to try those

    Thanks Lisa - "blush"

    Thanks Cindy - yes much better to put the stick in before baking - I did make sure that they were firmly in the dough and even pushed the dough around the stick if it seemed too flimsy. Ideally the stick reduces the stickiness but in reality I worry it just gives more substance to the sticky trail kids like to leave

    Thanks Lorraine - a blush is important in biscuits that receive such kind compliments - ha ha

    Thanks Kari - in an ideal world I would add chocolate to most baking but I appreciate it is not always appropriate - especially when you want fun colours (though I did see some saffron chocolate this week and wanted it for covering cake pops)

    Thanks Liz - funny you mention frozen bananas on a stick - I found an old lollypop made of a smoothie this week and Sylvia loved it so maybe she will fancy frozen lollypops this summer

    Thanks Cakelaw - just the description I was after :-)

    Thanks Jacqueline - awww that is sweet of you to say so

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  15. How fun! I love that you used natural colourings, and I don't think the green one looks murky at all!

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