I remember the first time I ever tried eggnog.
It was non-alcoholic, of course - I couldn't have been older than 10 at the time - but because I wasn't prepared for anything but what it appeared to be, which was a milkshake, I still had to hold it at arm's length to stare at it and ask, "Grandma, what's in this?"
The whipped egg and the nutmeg, practically the defining features of the holiday drink, were out of range for my ten-year-old palate. And now, though I've long since added many tastes and textures to my "acceptable foods" list, milkshakes and similarly heavy drinks have not survived those palate-expanding changes.
As a result, I've never added eggnog to my holiday menu. Still, seeing the plethora of recipes for eggnog and the overflowing milk coolers of eggnog at the supermarket, I can't help but feel I'm missing out somehow during the holiday season. I mean, heck, I appreciate nutmeg! But yeah, okay, I'm not kicking down any kitchen doors to get eggs, cream, and sugar in my holiday drink... So how do I join in on the fun?
I think the world-famous sugar cookie needs to step in here. I can't imagine a cookie better suited to showing off subtle flavor enhancements (ie. nutmeg + bourbon) than the sugar cookie. And - as if I needed to talk them up more - a good sugar cookie is soft. Like sooft. Little pillows you can sink your teeth into. And you can cut them into shapes for the holiday season and decorate them with icing and sprinkles... what could be a better base for a Christmas cookie?
Now I'm sensing skepticism. How can a sugar cookie be anything but the, like, arch-nemesis of healthy? Aren't those things just filled with butter and sugar and then topped with more butter and sugar?
Yes. Well, normally they are. Even worse, if you get those really really soft, too-sweet ones (that most people just love) at the grocery store, you get preservatives and ridiculous amounts of food coloring, too! Woohoo.
But not these ones. It's true! I know it's hard to believe. Two of my friends, individually, upon being presented with a "healthy sugar cookie," just laughed at that like it was a joke.
Seriously, though. These cookies keep the extremely soft, chewy texture, and the heavenly sweetness (but not gaggy sweetness!) that a sugar cookie should - must - have. Using white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour, it's entirely possible to make good 100% whole wheat sugar cookies. Plus, no matter what your friends say about not liking Stevia in their baked things, at 1/3 c. Stevia and 2/3 c. sugar, the Stevia is completely incognito - nothing but the beautiful, decadent sweetness is added to the cookies, minus so many extra calories.
Oh, and the best part: I've been loving extra-virgin organic coconut oil in just about everything, for its medium-chain triglycerides (which are more easily metabolized by the body and therefore less prone to hanging around), its appetite-reducing effect, and its usefulness in everything you could normally bake with butter. The coconut oil makes these cookies over-the-top soft and fluffy... without making me feel soft and fluffy! I mean, as long as I actually share the cookies as opposed to eating them all myself.
I guess I'll have to save a few for Santa.
Glazed Eggnog Sugar Cookies
Whatever you do, don't miss out on this glaze. It doesn't add a significant amount of sugar or calories to each individual scone (about 15 calories apiece) but it makes them glisten like ice and taste like heaven!
2 c. (240 g) white whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1/4 c. (60 g) coconut oil, solid + room temp (in this recipe, you can't taste the coconut oil)
1/3 c. (8 g) powdered stevia (at this amount, no one can tell it's in the cookies)
2/3 c. (150 g) white sugar (or swap up to 1/3 c. more out for stevia)
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 whole egg
3 egg whites (or 1/4 c. liquid egg whites)
1/2 c. nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Up to 1/8 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg (or 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg)
For the glaze:
2 - 2 1/2 T. rum or bourbon (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract + 2 T. water)
1/2 c. powdered sugar (powdered stevia would work, too, if you like the taste)
less than 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (or about 1/8 tsp. ground)
1/8 - 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Optional: Sprinkles, reserved until just after glazing
In a food processor, or with a pastry blender, combine flour through salt thoroughly, until no more clumps of coconut oil remain. If using the food processor, transfer to a large bowl.
Combine the egg, egg whites, yogurt, vanilla, and nutmeg in the food processor - or thoroughly with a whisk.
Mix all the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until well combined. The dough should be very sticky, but not wet. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 40 minutes to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper or a coat of baking spray.
Take the dough out onto a clean, floured surface, and pat a little flour on your hands and on top of the dough. Roll the dough out to 1/4" thick.
Use cookie cutters to cut out the cookies and transfer to the baking sheet.
When you need to recombine the dough, simply squish it back into a ball with your hands and repeat the rolling process with a little more flour.
Bake the cookies in the upper third of the oven for best results, until they seem soft in the middle but not doughy. They may be just slightly browned on top. Depending on the size of your cookie cutters, the baking time ranges between about 10 - 14 minutes.
While the cookies are baking, whisk together the glaze.
When the cookies are done, brush the glaze on the [still hot] cookies with a pastry brush. [TIP: If you want to add sprinkles, now's the time! Glaze only 1-2 cookies before adding sprinkles, as the glaze sets very quickly!]
Allow the glaze to set, and if possible, allow cookies to cool before gobbling up. (Might want to try to save a few for Santa, too!)
Makes about 24 glazed cookies
Nutrition per glazed cookie: 117 calories; 3 g fat (2 g saturated); 22 g carbs; 1 g fiber; 14 g sugar; 3 g protein
(Save additional calories/carbs/sugar by swapping out up to 1/3 c. more of the sugar in the recipe for stevia!)