I’m alternating the “Happy” and “healthy” of H&H Saturdays. Last week was happy, so this week is healthy! Healthy for me ties in with my vegan, plant-based and whole foods type approach. But we gotta leave room for dessert. So in my search for festive vegan treats, I found out that sprinkles are not vegan. I’m not the biggest fan of sprinkles, but they’re great for adding a little sparkle and pizzazz to cookies, cakes and cake pops. So instead of my original idea of something cute and sprinkled for Valentine’s, I made these vegan red velvet crinkle cookies.
Now you may be asking, but sprinkles are just dyed sugar! Why aren’t they vegan?
Well first of all, not all sugars are vegan.
Some sugars are refined using bone char, and subsequently aren’t vegan. For more info on why not all sugars are vegan, check out the following links:
Check online for info about your favourite sugar brands if you plan on baking for any vegetarian or vegan friends. In Canada, Redpath is really widely used and is totally vegan-friendly! They even sponsored the Toronto Vegetarian Association’s Vegan Bake-Off last year, and I got a HUGE basket of Redpath sugar products as a prize for runner up for Best Presentation.
Secondly, not all food dyes are vegan. (Especially red)
Female cochineal insects are crushed to create the red pigment used in many food dyes, cosmetics, and even used in your favourite holiday cookies. Had I known this even before I was vegetarian/vegan, I don’t think I would have wanted to eat that. Crushed bugs in my food? Nah. I’m good. (Source:Â PETA)
And THIRD, you know that shine or shimmer your favourite sprinkles, jimmies and quins have? Well, I hate to break it to you, but those are made with confectioner’s glaze. And as nice as that sounds, not all confectioner’s glazes sound so tasty when you really know what it is.
Some (not all) confectioner’s glazes are made with resin created by the Lac beetle, scraped off of bushes, trees, and other places were the Lac beetle nests. Now, that may not seem so icky to you guys who also like honey (FYI, honey is digested pollen yacked back up by bees. I actually love honey. Gross, but yum.)
All in all, if foods are brightly coloured or shiny (particularly candies), they might not be even vegetarian. And there are probably lots of chemicals and creepy preservatives used to keep it stable for store shelves.
To be healthier and better to my body, I chose to make my cookies with better ingredients (well, if you have raw sugar it’d be even better). With some whole wheat flour, unrefined coconut oil, and fresh cooked purÃ©ed beets, these cookies are a bit healthier than your average red velvet cookie. (But don’t mistake healthierÂ for healthy. These are still balls of sugar haha)
Based on my success with my naturally red velvet cupcakes made with beets, I decided to use beet purÃ©e to get the classic red velvet colour and act as the egg replacer in these vegan red velvet crinkle cookies. The beet purÃ©e lends an irresistible softness to the cookies, almost melting in your mouth. Like the red velvet cupcakes, I kept the batter as acidic as I could by using natural cocoa powder, as opposed to the more basic pH Dutch-processed cocoa powder. With a little kick of apple cider vinegar, the beet colour keeps it’s vibrant rouge while it bakes.
But the 10 minute mark is how you get perfect cookies. Any longer, and the colour starts to cook and fade to a deep, orange. But at the 10 minute mark, you get that lovely crimson that’s perfect for the season of love.
They’re sweet, but not so sweet that it’s cloying. The outside layer of powdered sugar melts on your tongue just in time for a blanket of red velvet to wash over your taste buds with its softness.
And for those who are wondering if it tastes like beets, I didn’t think so. Chris didn’t either (but we also both love beets so…I think we would have liked them either way). Both my roommate and her partner, who doesn’t typically like sweets, liked them. He actually liked them so much he was stunned for about a minute or two as he was trying to under stand its texture and the fact that it had beets!
It has a deep, rich and sweet flavour from the naturally sweet beets but brought out with sugar and the acidity from the batter. Basically, they’re delicious (and healthier).
To see what my other H&H friends posted, check out the links below!
- Nicole from Wonky Wonderful
- Paula from Call Me PMc
- Becca from It’s YummiÂ (Her post will be live mid-afternoon. Meanwhile check out her other stuff =P)
- Lindsay from The Live-In Kitchen
- Gillian from The Haas Machine
- Karyn from Pint Sized Baker
Recipe adapted from The Sweet Life’s Sarah, and her Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies guest post over on Keepin’ it Kind.
Vegan Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
Gillian @ The Haas Machine says
Crushed BUGS! Sick (but go figure!) I haven’t tried pureed beet for coloring yet, but I definitely want to give it a whirl.
Lisa Mai says
It’s actually awesome. I don’t really find it tastes like beets, but I like beets anyway so maybe my tastebuds can’t tell haha
Lindsay @ The Live-In Kitchen says
Yum! These look so good, and I love the natural coloring. I made a beet chocolate cake with beet cream cheese frosting once and it was SO good. I definitely don’t think you can taste the beets once you add all the sugar and bake it.
Lisa Mai says
Thanks Lindsay =) Beet cream cheese frosting?? That sounds so intriguing =)
great recipe. they look delish!
Lisa Mai says
Thanks Dina =)
Becca from It's Yummi! says
I sure learned a lot from you today, Lisa! Thanks for the education and your great recipe!
I love beets, so this recipe will fit perfectly into my life :)
Mmmm, Bug Sprinkles. Who knew that eating regular cookies was similar to being a contestant on Fear Factor!?! These look great and I love beets! Pinning :)
Lisa Mai says
Hahah thanks Nicole. The more I look into whats vegan and what’s not vegan, the more I’m freaked out about all the things I’ve eaten obliviously, not knowing wacky ingredients that are labelled so innocently and vaguely by companies haha
Elizabeth Hoskin says
I cannot, cannot CANNOT count how many compliments I have received when I bring baking recipes from jsa/Viet vegan.
This recipe is the favourite of everyone that has tried it!!! I will say I had to substitute the “ender-g” egg replacer for some apple sauce. I had to use two tablespoons more than 1/4 a cup for the right consistency but I am repeatedly DEMANDED to make more.
You MUST try this one.
Karin Anne says
Do you think this would work if you sub 3 c gluten free flour blend for the white and wheat flours?
Lisa Le says
I haven’t tried it. Depending on the quality of the flour blend, it should work. I’m just afraid that without the gluten to bind it, it might now stick together well. You could try?
This recipe was perfect… tho I used only all-purpose flour and the texture was lovely. After the first batch I also learned to take your word for it when you say to coat it with lots and lots of icing sugar.
Also… I roasted my beets in the oven whole, just placed in a 9×13 and covered with foil, then 45-50 minutes at 425F. After cooling for a few minutes, I slid the skins off and pureed the beets in the blender. I know trader joe’s often sells steamed and peeled baby beets in their refrigerated section… I’ll have to remember that to save myself some time next time.
Great recipe… thanks! Making this part of my regular Christmas cookie repertoire!
Do you think I could sub out the sugar and use maple syrup instead? And if so, how much and should I add more flower to make up for it?
These look delicious and I can’t wait to try them!
Lisa Le says
I haven’t tried that, and I’m not sure how it would work. I really don’t recommend increasing the flour content because otherwise the cookies might get too tough. If you want to use a less refined sugar, I recommend using raw sugar or unrefined cane sugar instead. You’ll have a more similar result to my cookies =)
These look so good and I really want to try them. If I use the Dutch cocoa, will it affect the texture or taste? I don’t want it to be too acidic because I have Acid Reflux. Thank you
Lisa Le says
The texture and flavour will be probably the same, the colour just won’t be as bright. I don’t think the acidity of regular processed cocoa will make it that much more acidic, but you know what’s best for you!