Each year for our festive feast, I like to do something different with the place markers. Some years they're edible, some years they're not. Gingerbread makes for a great option as it allows so many creative possibilities. A couple of years ago I made chocolate gingerbread boxes and filled them with treats, the lids of which had everyone's names on it. This year, I opted for gingerbread gift tags.
Since the last time I made edible place settings, my partner's brother has opted for a vegan diet and his wife is vegetarian. My sister eats less types of fruit and vegetables than I have fingers on my hands, and my dad won't try anything he imagines he won't like (which encompasses anything that isn't roast meat or a casserole-type dish). Creating a menu that could suit everyone was definitely a challenge, but a welcome one.
The challenge for the gingerbread tags was finding a recipe that could suit a vegan dietary requirement, whilst still tasting appealing enough for the non-vegans.
I spent some time Googling recipes and kept coming up with ones that were half filled with speciality ingredients I didn't have. That would be fine ordinarily, but when putting on a three coarse feast for 10 people with such an extreme range of dietary requirements, I was keen to cut grocery costs wherever possible.
That's when my partner's brother sent me a link to a vegan gingerbread recipe on Facebook, not even knowing I was hunting for one. It was almost perfect, but simple enough that I could substitute a few ingredients for what was already in my pantry and all I had to buy was a non-animal dairy milk. Awesome. I had wanted to use almond milk, but my supermarket only had soy so I went with that option.
I made a total of 10 gift tag cookies, then cut the rest of the dough into gingerbread men and star shapes.
This recipe baked well and held its shape. The raw sugar gave it a rustic texture that I thought was quite nice for this purpose. If you want a smooth textured gingerbread then this recipe is probably not ideal. The texture doesn't interfere with piping, though. The icing went on nice and smooth.
To make the tags, I cut a template out of baking paper and used that as a guide to cutting the tags. You can use whichever shape you like: I found that using the same baking time for different sized cookies produced identical results.
Here's how to make your own batch:
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup soy milk
2 cups plain flour
1 cup icing sugar
To make the icing, sift icing sugar into a medium bowl. Beat in the lemon juice, and then the soy milk a tablespoon at a time until your icing mixture is well combined. The resultant icing needs to be at stiff peak to pipe, so take care not to add too much liquid – it's easier to add more liquid than to add more icing sugar
You'll find the printable version of this recipe here.