Mini Vegan Gingerbread House

What’s the point of a gingerbread house if you can’t eat it? Sure, it’s fun to get one of those pre-made kits and decorate it, but I don’t want to stare at my inedible gingerbread house for two weeks and then throw it away. I want to take a few pictures, show it off at my holiday party, and then commence snacking.

Gingerbread has always been off-limits to me because of my various allergies, but this year I’d finally had enough. I was going to find a way to have my gingerbread house and eat it too. When I found a recipe on Minimalist Baker, it was exactly what I was looking for. It is a perfect allergy-friendly gingerbread recipe free of dairy, gluten, eggs, soy, corn, and (my allergy arch-nemesis) cloves. It works nicely for gingerbread house construction or just making some kick-ass cookies, and it made my whole house smell like Christmas!

To make your own gingerbread house, you will need:

1) Minimalist Baker’s Vegan Gluten Free Gingerbread Dough. For Dana’s recipe I used 1.5 cups of gluten free flour blend (1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup gluten free oat flour, 1/4 cup arrowroot powder, 1/4 cup potato starch). For the “vegan butter” I recommend using coconut butter (it’s thicker than coconut oil) softened in the microwave for 10-15 seconds and stirred with a spoon until smooth (it should look like melted frosting). I baked the gingerbread house cutouts for 20 minutes at 350F to make sure they would be firm.

Note: I made a double batch of the gingerbread dough recipe to make sure there was enough for the entire house, and had some dough left over for cookies! I ate most of the cookies, but did use a few for my gingerbread house scene. gingerbread 5

2) Cherrybrook Kitchen vegan/gluten free vanilla frosting, or your preferred frosting. The frosting should not be too watery or too hot, or it will melt and the walls will not stick together.  You can make your own frosting by mixing powdered sugar with water or almond milk, and adding more sugar if it’s too runny. The gingerbread recipe link from Minimalist Baker also has suggestions for making your own frosting. Keep in mind that the thicker the frosting is, the better support it will be for your gingerbread house.

3) A 12 inch round cardboard base to place the house on, a square cardboard tissue box to support the walls of the house, and piping bags for the frosting.

4) Vegan/gluten free candy to decorate your house. I used kosher jelly beans that I found in the Chanukah section of my grocery store (they’re kosher because they don’t contain gelatin, so they’re vegan too!), Dandies vegan marshmallows, dairy free chocolate figures from Premium Chocolatiers, and Bob’s candy canes.

5) Vegan-suitable food dye, in case you want to make your frosting different colors to decorate with. I used “India Tree” brand that I found in Whole Foods.

6) Mini gingerbread house template. I used the Swedish House template from this BBC Good Food recipe.

Directions:

1) Prepare the dough according to the instructions on Minimalist Baker. I recommend making a double batch and using the leftover dough for cookies. I refrigerated the dough for two hours before rolling out and baking.

2) Print out the template (it should be about the size of a postcard). Take a sheet of parchment or wax paper and place it over the template. Trace the three wall shapes onto the parchment paper, then cut them out so you have three paper shapes.

3) Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out about 1/4-1/2 inch thick onto parchment paper or a floured surface. Place the parchment paper wall shape cutouts over the rolled out dough and cut the shapes out of the dough using a sharp knife. Use a spatula to transfer each shape to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving about 2 inches of room between each shape since they spread as they bake. Make two of each shape (front and back, two sides of the roof, and two short walls, so you end up with six walls total).gingerbread 2

4) Bake the six walls for 20 minutes to make sure they are firm. Let them cool completely before constructing the house or they will melt the frosting. It’s best to let them cool for at least 12-24 hours (I waited two days before using them for the house) to make sure they’re sturdy enough to stand on the cardboard, or they will fall apart when you try to work with them.

5) Take your regular sized square tissue box and stand it upright so that the opening is on the top. Measure the height of the shortest wall (“B” on the template) on the box, tracing all around with a pen. Cut off the top of the box around the traced line so that the tissue box is only as tall as side “B”.

 

6) Place a piece of plastic wrap on the cardboard base and put the tissue box base on top of it. Wrap the tissue box in the plastic wrap so that the outside is completely covered. Use two pieces of double sided tape to stick the tissue box to the cardboard base. I put mine closer to one edge of the cardboard circle so I could make a larger “front yard” for the house.

7) Place your frosting into a piping bag and cut off the bottom. Pipe frosting around the base and top edges of the tissue box, and pipe 3-4 dots of frosting in the center of each “wall” of the tissue box. Press each gingerbread wall to its appropriate tissue box wall, and hold it for a few seconds to make sure it sticks. Use frosting for extra glue/support and to fill in any gaps between the walls. Place only the four supporting walls around the tissue box–don’t place the roof on yet!

gingerbread 27 gingerbread 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

8) Let the four supporting walls dry and set for at least 30 minutes before putting the roof pieces on. When you’re ready to place the roof, pipe frosting onto all the top edges of the house before placing the roof on, then pipe more frosting into the spaces between all the walls to make sure everything sticks.

gingerbread 11 gingerbread 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

10) Decorate the house and surrounding cardboard area with your favorite candy and gingerbread cookies using the frosting as a glue.

Then let it dry, show it off, and EAT THAT GINGERBREAD HOUSE!

gingerbread 48gingerbread 65 gingerbread 68gingerbread 72

gingerbread 66

 

Note: I used gingerbread dough for this recipe, but you can try it with other types of cookie dough too and follow the same steps. My mom made a non-vegan sugar cookie house, and it was awesome (it’s pictured below). My vegan/gluten free sugar cookie recipe will be coming in the next few days if you’re feeling adventurous!

Edit: My sugar cookie recipe is here! 

gingerbread 46

Coconut Whipped Cream Mini Fruit Tarts

These fruit tarts are so good AND they’re sort of healthy, you know, because of the fruit (just go with it). Thanks to the magic of coconut cream, they are soy free too! It is so simple to make your own dairy free whipped cream and turn any plain dessert into a decadent treat, or just eat it right out of the bowl. Stay tuned for another recipe coming soon with this incredible magical coconut whipped cream!

Ingredients:

1 batch of my Gluten Free Pie Crust (this is enough for about 4 mini tarts)

Maple glaze for the crust: 2 tbsp almond milk + 2 tbsp maple syrup

4 mini ramekins (about the size of your palm)

2 5-oz cans of coconut cream, chilled overnight

1 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Sliced mango, kiwi, and blackberries (or any other fruit you prefer)

Directions:

*Make sure you chill the coconut cream cans in the fridge overnight before you start baking. They need to be cold so that the cream is solid enough for whipping. Put them in the fridge right side up so the cream solidifies on the top.

Make the pie dough, then leave in the fridge for an hour. Take out of the fridge, let it warm up for 5-10 minutes, then roll it out flat (about 1/4 inch thick) and place a quarter of the dough in each ramekin. Brush the dough with the maple glaze (2 tbsp almond milk + 2 tbsp maple syrup) and bake for 20 minutes at 350F.IMG_0051

 

While the dough is baking, open the cans of coconut cream. There should be a solid layer of cream on the top of the can, and below it will be a layer of thin watery liquid. You only need the solid cream on the top plus 1 tbsp of the liquid milk. You can save the liquid to use later in other recipes or toss it.  Scoop out the solid cream from all four cans + 1 tbsp liquid milk into a mixing bowl. Add the 1 tbsp maple syrup and 1/2 tsp of vanilla. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the cream until all the ingredients are incorporated. Start out on a slow speed and gradually increase until you see the cream start to become smoother. If you mix it for about 5-10 minutes, you’ll start to see it forming stiff peaks and looking more like a “whipped cream”.

Take the pie crust out and let it cool for about 10 minutes, and wash and slice the fruit while the crust is cooling. Spoon a quarter of the whipped cream into each pie crust so it fills it about halfway. Finally, layer the sliced fruit on top of the whipped cream, and enjoy your mini homemade fruit tart!

Sweet Potato Sandwich

If you have a lot of Thanksgiving leftovers to finish, you can get sick of eating the same thing for days after the big dinner. This sandwich is perfect for a new spin on your leftover roasted sweet potatoes. It’s so good, I eat it throughout the year too! This recipe was given to me by a non-vegan friend who suggested I replace the goat cheese with something else, and I knew my almond spread would be perfect for it. It’s delicious whether you eat it while you’re tanning on the the beach or warmed up with all of your Thanksgiving leftovers!

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp brown sugar

Arugula lettuce

Balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Almond Herb Spread (or goat cheese if you’re not vegan)

Ciabatta bread or your favorite gluten free bread

Directions:

Start preparing the almond spread first by soaking the almonds in water (full recipe here).

If you’ve already got roasted sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner, skip this step! If not, cut a sweet potato into slices that are about 1/2-inch thick, and place them on a tray lined with parchment paper. Melt the coconut oil in a small bowl in the microwave, then stir in the brown sugar. Spoon this mixture onto each sweet potato slice.

sp

Place the potatoes in the oven for 30-45 minutes at 425F, until the sweet potatoes are golden brown and can be cut easily with a knife.

While the sweet potatoes are baking, make the almond spread and place it in the fridge for 20 minutes to set. Take the sweet potatoes out when they are finished, and let them cool for about 10 minutes.

To assemble your sandwich, first toast the bread. Place one layer of sweet potato slices on a piece of bread, then top it with arugula, almond cheese, and balsamic dressing.

sp open

Gluten Free Pop Tarts

Your favorite childhood breakfast food (let’s be honest, you totally ate them in college too), but without the food dyes, sugar, gluten, and dairy. Warm them up in the morning, afternoon, or for your midnight snack.

Ingredients:

1 batch of my Gluten Free Pie Dough–this will make 4 pop tarts

4 tbsp of your favorite jam. (I went with strawberry and blackberry.)

2 tbsp cornstarch or potato starch

Maple glaze: 2 tbsp almond milk + 2 tbsp maple syrup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Roll out the pie dough as thin as possible without tearing it, and cut into 3×4 in rectangles (you should have about 8 rectangles). Mix jam and starch together in a small bowl, and spoon into the center of half the rectangles, leaving a small border on all sides.IMG_0042

Mix almond milk and maple syrup in another small bowl and using a pastry brush, dab around the border of the jam on the dough.

IMG_0044

Take the rectangles that do not have any jam and place one on top of each of the rectangles without jam, and press on all sides with a fork so you get a lined pattern around the top of the pop tart.

IMG_0045

Brush the entire top of each finished pop tart with the almond-maple glaze.

IMG_0048

Bake for 20 minutes at 350F.

 

Gluten Free Pie Crust

This is sweeter than a basic pie crust, and goes really well with dessert pies like pumpkin or pecan. Many more recipes with this pie crust to come!

Ingredients:

For the pie dough:

½ cup ice water

2 cups of gluten free flour blend: ¾ cup gluten free oat flour, ¾ cup brown rice flour, ¼ cup arrowroot powder,  ¼ cup potato starch

1 tsp guar gum

1 tsp salt

½ cup vegan shortening (I use Nutiva), earth balance butter/coconut oil

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the maple glaze:

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp almond milk

Directions:

Place oat flour, brown rice flour, arrowroot, potato starch, guar gum, and salt into a bowl, and mix to combine. Pour in maple syrup, vanilla, and shortening. Using an electric mixer, combine until you have a crumbly mixture. Pour in ice water a little bit at a time and mix for 30 seconds until all ingredients are combined. Dough should be pliable and should not be wet or stick to your hands. Form a ball with the dough and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

To use, remove from the fridge and let the dough warm up for at least 5 minutes. Roll it out onto a flat surface (you can dust the surface and rolling pin lightly with flour, but don’t use too much or your dough will absorb it and get very dry when you bake it). You can place into a pie tin, or cut into squares for pop tarts. Before baking, make sure to brush the maple glaze over the dough to keep it from cracking in the oven. The dough should be baked for about 15-20 minutes at 350F in the oven to reach the desired texture, and can be baked before or with your pie filling.

Chickpea Breakfast Scramble Burrito

My favorite breakfast used to be eggs with avocado and salsa, and this recipe is absolutely perfect as a substitute. It’s full of protein, filling, and easy to transport for busy mornings if you want to make it the night before. Just wrap it in foil, refrigerate, and heat it in the morning before you’re ready to eat.

I made the chickpea scramble using this amazing recipe from Fettle Vegan, and added in some chopped spinach as well. I put the chickpea scramble, avocado slices, and salsa in a brown rice wrap and had a big breakfast burrito. YAY.

Ultimate Vegan Baked Potato

I know that you’re thinking potatoes are already vegan, but plain potatoes are boring. Even vegans should be able to add cheese, sour cream, and bacon for some serious comfort food.

Ingredients:

1 russet potato

Vegan Cheese Sauce (my recipe here)

Broccoli florets

Directions:

Put your cashews for the cheese sauce in a bowl with cold water and set aside (if you’re not using cashews, wait until later to make the sauce). Wash the potato and stick a fork in it about 3 times to allow steam to escape. Place it on a tray in the oven at 425F and set a timer for one hour.

Cut up fresh broccoli or use frozen broccoli florets, and place on another tray with foil. Drizzle or brush with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Place them in the oven and set a timer for 30-45 minutes depending on how crispy you want the broccoli, and take it out of the oven when ready. Cover it with foil to keep warm.

Now, make the cheese sauce in a blender, and set aside in a small bowl.

The potato should be easy to cut open after one hour. If not, let it bake until you can cut it open easily and you can easily mash it on the inside. Once the potato is done, pile on all of your toppings. I like roasted broccoli and cheese sauce on mine, and tofu sour cream and tempeh bacon bits are great additions if you are OK with soy products (my favorite brands are Follow Your Heart sour cream and LightLife bacon). Enjoy!