Italian Rainbow Cookies Veganized

During Christmas, I had this bad habit of being at the grocery store and looking at the ingredients of the Italian Christmas cookies hoping some of them would be vegan. Not a chance. I’ve been craving these all season.

After Christmas, I looked up some recipes for this type of cookie. I wasn’t sure what they would actually be called, but it was easy enough to find. I found this recipe, which I knew I could veganize with the magic vegan ingredient, aquafaba.

I was so worried I’d really mess up making these a lot earlier on. The parts I thought would fail were not as difficult as I thought. The hardest part was cutting it after I put the chocolate on top, which ended up crumbling a bit and making it not as pretty as I would have liked. The recipe makes it sound much more complicated and some of the steps are needlessly complicated, so I’m re-writing the recipe in the way I did it with the vegan substitutions.

This recipe also required making vegan almond paste (with aquafaba as well!)

That is the first step to making these babies.

Vegan Aquafaba Almond Paste

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups blanched almonds
  • 1.5 cups vegan powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons aquafaba (chickpea water/brine from a can)
  • 1.5 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, blend the almonds until smooth and pasty.
  2. Add the powdered sugar, aquafaba, extract, and salt.
  3. Process again until smooth and dough-like (it should form into a big ball).
  4. You may need to scrape the sides down frequently throughout the process.
  5. When finished, set aside 3/4 cup for your Italian Rainbow cookies. You can save the leftovers, it’s super yummy!

IMG_6595

Veganized Italian Rainbow Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks plus 4 tablespoons Earth Balance sticks
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup almond paste (recipe above)
  • 3/4 cup vegan sugar plus 2 tablespoons
  • 4 tablespoons aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas)
  • 12 tablespoons aquafaba
  • 2 tablespoons vegan sugar
  • food coloring method of choice (red and green)
  • 15 oz Apricot Jam (not the kind with clumpy pieces in it, you want it to be smooth)
  • 10 oz vegan chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place parchment paper on three jelly roll pans or rimmed cookie sheets and spray parchment with cooking oil.
  3. In a stand mixer bowl, place the almond paste and 3/4 cup with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Mix on the medium speed setting until crumbly.
  4. Cut the Earth Balance into small pieces and place into the the mixture while beating together until all the Earth Balance is in there and the batter is smooth.
  5. Sift 2 cups of flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a bowl. Add into the mixer slowly and continue to mix until combined. Do not over mix.
  6. In a large metal bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, place the 12 tablespoons of aquafaba. Whip until foamy. Slowly add in the 2 tablespoons of sugar while continuing to whip on the highest setting. Stop when you have created firm peaks (if you take out the whisks from the meringue, and place them upside down, it will not drip down).
  7. Add 1/3 of the meringue into the batter and fold in with a rubber spatula. Add the rest of the meringue and mix until fully incorporated.
  8. Place the batter evenly into 3 bowls. 1 bowl keep plain, and then add green and red to the other two bowls.
  9. Transfer the batters onto their respective cookie sheets one at a time with a wet rubber spatula . My sheets were too big to be able to spread out the batter entirely, so I tried my best to make the most even shaped rectangles on each cookie sheet so they’d match up when layered together after baking.  Don’t worry too much about it, you’ll cut the edges so they’re prettier when it’s all assembled anyhow. Just worry about making relatively even thickness rectangles for now.
  10. Bake for 4 minutes, rotate the pans around in the oven so that one pan is not on the bottom rack the whole time, and bake for another 4-6 minutes until the edges are slightly browned.
  11. Allow to cool completely.
  12. Spread a thin layer of apricot jam on top of the red layer.
  13. Cut any excess parchment paper from around the white layer. Holding the bottom of the cookie with both hands, carefully line up and flip the white layer onto the red.
  14. Spread another layer of jam. Repeat step 13 with the green layer, but do not place anymore jam on top.
  15. Cover with plastic wrap. Place a clean cookie sheet on top to press down the layers. Place something heavy and even (like two cans on either side) on top of that, and place into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
  16. Take off the cans, cookie sheet, and plastic wrap. With a sharp knife, trim the uneven sides into a clean rectangle shape. Let sit for a moment or a few.
  17. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or microwave.
  18. Spread over the top layer and sides with a spatula.
  19. Allow to set, and then cut into smalls squares.
  20. Place in a container and store in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

Enjoy! I know I certainly will!

 

 

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Magic Bean juice for lavender vegan meringues

Okay, so I had been aware that vegans all over the internet had discovered that it was possible to make meringue out of the juice inside a can of chickpeas (drained from the chickpeas). However, I was a bit skeptical. I didn’t think it was easy. But I finally got the courage to try. It was a beautiful day out, and though I’m not sure it’s the same for vegan meringue, I remember as a kid when my mom would make my grandmother’s famous real meringues, they wouldn’t come out well if it was rainy or humid. Apparently that’s an actual thing. So, thinking to myself that it was the perfect day, I decided to make them.

Meringue was seriously one thing I never thought would be successfully veganized, but I was so wrong. To me, this just proves “anything you can eat I can eat vegan!” It’s like the last frontier of veganizing…

So behold! the magical vegan bean juice. I can’t wait to try to veganize my mom’s meringue frosting, macarons, and more, never mind explore other flavors for these ones. I think I will try some peppermint chocolate chip ones next…

I took a bit of artistic license to this recipe. That recipe uses white beans instead of chickpeas and doesn’t have a flavor. I personally cannot taste the chickpeas in the recipe I created, but it’s probably because I added stuff to it.

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Ingredients:

  • The strained juice of a 15 oz can of chickpeas minus one tablespoon. 
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp vegan sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lemonade (I used organic bottled strawberry lemonade)
  • 1 tbsp blueberry juice (I took the juice of some frozen blueberries that I microwaved for a bit)–this doesn’t add flavor, it’s just for the effect of the color, so this is essentially optional
  • 2 drops vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp lavender extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, pour the bean juice, sugar, lemonade, and blueberry juice.
  3. With an electric handheld mixer or whisk attachment on a stand mixer, begin to whisk together the ingredients in circles around the sides of the mixing bowl.
  4. Continue to mix until thick and fluffy. The time varies a lot. It took mine 10 minutes to get to the perfect point, but I had my handheld mixer on the highest setting (5) and I’m not sure how other brand mixers may work. See picture for reference.
  5. When thick yet fluffy with peaks, add in the extracts and give it about 2 minutes of remixing again.
  6. Lay some parchment paper on several baking sheets. Take a spoon and add dollops of the meringue onto the sheet, like cookies only with a more liquid batter. They will come out looking prettiest if you try to make them look like chocolate kisses. You know what I mean I hope…I can’t describe it any other way, haha.
  7. Place in the oven for an hour. After an hour, check them. The baking sheet that was on the bottom rack was done at this point. If you poke them with your finger they should be stiff and not make a print.
  8. It took about an hour and 15 minutes for the rest of my meringues to be done. If they’re not done after an hour and 15, check in another ten minutes, and then more frequently after that if they’re still not ready.
  9. Allow to cool on the sheets for at least 15 minutes. You’ll want to eat them, and you can enjoy almost as many as you want, I calculated that they are only about 10 calories each…depending on how big you make them (I made 34).
  10. Store them (if you have any left) in a sealed container to try to prevent them from getting too moist. I personally like them a bit soggier and chewy, though!
what it should look like when ready

what it should look like when ready

before going into the oven

before going into the ovenIMG_3815

Meringues were big in my family growing up, as I mentioned above. Check out more childhood favorite recipes that I veganized in my zine, on etsy!