This dairy-free version of a holiday favorite will be sure to please both kids and the kid in you.
For the cookies:
- 4 cups (510 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1½ tablespoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ground anise seed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- ⅔ cup real cane syrup, Lyles’ Golden preferred
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (6 ounces) non-hydrogenated, non-dairy, unsalted margarine or shortening or a mixture of both, room temperature
- ⅔ cup soy or coconut, vanilla flavored creamer
For the royal icing:
- ½ cup soy or coconut, vanilla flavored creamer
- 3 tablespoons powdered egg whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla powder, optional
- 2 cups (226 grams) confectioner’s sugar, or as needed
To make the cookies:
- Sift 2 cups flour and the baking soda onto a sheet of parchment paper and set aside. Sift 2 cups flour onto a second sheet of parchment paper. Combine the spices, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the cane syrup over medium heat until very hot and runny without boiling, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the the heat.
- Add the sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Drizzle in the cane syrup and mix for 5 minutes. (The mixture will look like slush and there may be crystallization on the side of bowl). Add the the margarine and beat 2 to 3 minutes more. (The margarine will melt).
- On low speed, add the spices to the mixer, then add the flour and baking soda mixture, mixing until just combined. Add the creamer, then add the remaining 2 cups of flour, stirring by hand until just combined.
- On a large sheet of plastic wrap, flatten the dough into a 1-inch thick slab. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight or up to 1 week. (Freeze for at least 3 hours and up to 5 hours before baking. The margarine makes the dough very tender, and it will be too difficult to roll otherwise.)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 to 3 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- Divide the dough in half immediately after removing from the freezer (it will not be hard like a butter dough), and leave the second half in the freezer. Roll the dough ¼-inch thick on a floured work surface, lightly flouring the dough as necessary. (Don’t be shy with the flour–the margarine makes this dough very tender, and it will not toughen). Cut into shapes with gingerbread cutters. Using a spatula, transfer cookies to the baking sheets. Freeze scraps 30 minutes to an hour, or until firm enough to handle, before re-rolling and cutting more cookies. If the cut out shapes are very soft, briefly refrigerate before baking so that they will better hold their shapes.
- Bake the gingerbread until the edges just barely begin to brown, about 8 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie. Cool briefly on the pan until the cookies are firm enough to safely transfer. Move the cookies to a wire rack positioned over a parchment-lined sheet pan to decorate.
- Decorate with royal icing and sanding sugar as desired.
To make the royal icing:
- Heat the creamer in a small microwave-proof bowl until lukewarm, 30 to 45 seconds.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or with a handheld mixer, beat the egg white powder, vanilla powder if using, and creamer on high until the powder is dissolved, about 2 minutes.
- Gradually mix in the confectioner’s sugar, then increase speed to high and mix until the icing is very smooth and shiny, 5 to 6 minutes. The consistency should be slightly thicker than school glue. Use a paper cone or a small pastry bag to decorate as desired.
- The dough can be cut into a variety of gingerbread shapes, but since the cooking time will vary from shape to shape, it’s best to limit yourself to one shape per pan.
- The margarine makes this a softer gingerbread dough both before and after it is baked, so you can get away with rolling it on the thicker side. If you roll it less than ¼ inch, it will be very hard to transfer the cut outs and the dough will tear frequently.
- Vanilla powder is a common ingredient in the Middle East and parts of Europe. It can be found online, at Middle Eastern markets, and at pastry supply shops.
- Powdered egg whites are readily available in the baking aisle at most large grocery stores, and can be found online.