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Featured in Foothill Magazine

Vegan berry tea cookies

A perfect afternoon snack
By: Tessa Marguerite, Reporter/Page Designer
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Vegan berry tea cookies

Ingredients
Nutty frosting

  • 2 cups soaked cashews
  • (soak full 24 hours)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 3 Tbsp coconut cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Cookie

  • ½ cup coconut oil or
  • dairy-free butter
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 2 Tbsp water
  • 1¼ white or wheat flour
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp baking soda

Toppings

  • Sliced strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Any other fruit or berry

Directions

  1. For the cookie, begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the coconut oil or butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.
  3. Mix in flaxseed and water.
  4. Combine the flour, cream of tartar and baking soda; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended.
  5. Roll dough on parchment paper and cut into circles with cookie cutter or mouth of a pint glass. Lay on parchment paper cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake for 9 to 13 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool. Makes about 14 tarts.
  7. For the frosting, blend the soaked (and drained) cashews in a high-power blender or food processor until it turns into a coarse texture.
  8. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until completely smooth, or until desired nuttiness, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  9. Spread the nutty frosting on the cookie. Top with berries. Enjoy!

One of my favorites things to do as a little girl was get out my plastic tea set, arrange it on the floor of my bedroom and invite a select few of my very favorite stuffed animals to attend the party. The spread was simple: Apple juice for the “tea,” whatever type of cookies Mom had in the snack drawer and all the berries I could find in the refrigerator or blackberry bushes outside. To my young and imaginative mind, berries of all kinds were a crucial ingredient to make a proper tea party.

I still think berries are a lovely addition to a tea party. Their vibrant hues add splashes of deep purples and bright reds to the setting. But instead of just dropping them into a dish on the table to be plucked out – as I did when I was a child – I now find it more exciting to incorporate berries into scones, cakes and tea cookies.

I have a delightful recipe for blueberry scones, and who doesn’t love a decadent cake piled with whipped cream and raspberries? But I decided this time to experiment with a type of tea cookie with the added challenge of making it vegan.

I am not a vegan, but I have several friends who do adhere to a vegan, dairy-free or gluten-free diet I know they appreciate when others make the extra effort to provide special treats for them. This recipe for vegan berry tea cookies is free from all milk and animal products. It does contain gluten since I just used bleached, all-purpose flour, but it could easily be a gluten-free snack by substituting the flour in the cookie with almond or coconut flour.

It’s fun to find new ways to make familiar recipes, regardless of whether you can’t or don’t want to put certain ingredients in your body. I was intrigued by the idea of making a dairy-free frosting and loved how the cashew frosting turned out.

I let my frosting remain nutty simply by shortening the mixing time. In my opinion, it added a nice texture beneath the soft and sweet berries. For those who prefer frosting to be more or less sweet, this can be accomplished by adding more or less sugar. Another alternative for a low-sugar frosting would be maple syrup in the place of sugar. In fact, even if no sweetener was added at all, the sweetness from the berries and cookie would probably balance out quite nicely. Any extra nutty frosting can be used on toast or as a fruit dip.

Be sure to bake the cookies until they are golden-brown so that when they cool the crunch is there. These are not meant to be soft and fluffy, but rather a firm base for the nutty frosting and berries. They are delicious without the toppings, and can be served plain if you desire.

For the berries to top this batch of tea cookies, I used blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. The local roadside strawberries stands are mostly all open now, and it seems to me that they are particularly sweet and delicious this year. While some strawberry stands also sell other berries, the farmers’ markets around Placer County will surely have a vibrant collection. Buying fruits and vegetables from local sellers makes it much more likely that the food was picked or harvested at the peak of its growth. It makes a difference to the farmer, too.

I invite you to try out these sweet treats, perhaps accompanied by a cup of tea, and enjoy a simply delicious afternoon snack. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to invite a few friends to a “berry” sweet tea party.