Gluten-Free Vegan Ginger-Snappy Star, Moons, and Hearts

by Maria Theresa Maggi on December 17, 2013

Ginger Snappy Moons, Stars and Hearts on rack

These spicy cookies came together in the same off-beat way that pieces of daily thought and feeling experience make up the components of a dream.

The first wacky component came from something I do regularly in the cold months when its an asset to have the oven on. I make Romeo homemade dog biscuits. A couple of years ago I got a seventy nine cent cookie cutter in the shape of a dog bone at our “everything store” and began. I altered a recipe for some Easy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dog Biscuits I found on the internet to be gluten-free (because I have no glutinous flours in the house), I left off the optional egg wash, and halved the recipe.

These dog biscuits are easy to make, and the extra fun part is that I get to roll out “dough” again. Ever since I was a little girl and made Paintbrush Cookies from the Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls I’ve always loved making cut out cookies for the holidays. My belief, like that of so many, was that they needed staggering amounts of butter and sugar to work. But over the many months I repeated and refined my dog biscuit making, I must have began to question this common wisdom.

One night this fall I found myself giggling out loud as I wondered how I might make the dog biscuits into something like a gingerbread cookie people would want to eat. These musings became the baseline for what would become a recipe.

But the energy that pushed the barrel over the waterfall, so to speak, came from an even more wacky and unlikely–or maybe very likely place–the ending of the experimental novel  Calendar of Regrets by my friend and former colleague Lance Olsen. In one of the final scenes, the famous painter Heironymus Bosch is in the middle of a near death experience resulting from a poisoning by one of his religious adversaries. His near death experience is one of falling through space alongside others who may happen to pass by, Alice-in-Wonderland style.

As he’s falling, a burned girl he once saw carried past his house on a stretcher when he was a boy in the midst of of a great fire falls next to him for a while, and, having never met in life, they finally converse. Giving her a voice, and a “life” in the afterlife is a stroke of genius. She gets a name, too–Arabella, and becomes the most memorable character in the book for me.

Bosch thinks she’s asking him what he thinks about death, but she corrects him and says that no, it’s ginger snaps that are on her mind. “The honey. The cinnamon. The ground white pepper. Isn’t it extraordinary? Like a street fair below your eyes.”

With that description, I was hooked on a made-up memory of a cookie in a book. I had never made a cookie with white pepper in it. And I wanted a street fair below my eyes. And a texture that was “crackly and chewy and all melty at once.” I thought about it for days. And then, one night, all of a sudden, the rolling pin was out and these cookies were born. Literature never tasted so vegan and gluten-free good.

There’s one more remnant of the day that made it into this recipe by literally being out on the counter: the apricot fruit spread. Suddenly it seemed like the way to the street fair, too.

 I was going to start this post with “on a night not fit for man or beast,” here’s a cookie fit for both. So I guess I’ll end it that way, with the disclaimer that I also plied 2 of my human neighbors and another human friend with these cookies and they all proclaimed them delicious. They make cozy company with a cup of tea, too. And as Winter Solstice approaches, it’s nice to celebrate it with a street fair of stars, moons and hearts below the eyes. Thanks for the inspiration, Romeo and Lance!!

Maria (moonwatcher)



Leave a Comment

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Melissa C. December 17, 2013 at 9:55 am

This is absolutely perfect timing. I’ve been jonesing for gingersnap cookies after someone brought some into work the other day that I can’t eat (they aren’t gf let alone vegan). Now I have something to try tonight!


2 moonwatcher December 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Hi Melissa, I’m so glad to hear this–serendipity!! Thanks for letting me know. I hope you have fun making and eating these cookies. 🙂


3 Nicole O'Shea December 17, 2013 at 10:23 am

Maria, How amazing it is the way you create recipes! xoxo Nicole


4 moonwatcher December 17, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Thanks, Nicole! It’s was an adventure in itself. 🙂


5 angela December 17, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Great recipe Maria – touch of magic. “Practical Magic” who’s for midnight margueritas ? : ) : )

Pity it’s nearly 42 degrees C here – too hot for the oven : ( Don’t like hot Christmases : (

Ah well the recipe will keep and the weather will cool eventually

Merry Christmas Maria

Love Angela X


6 moonwatcher December 18, 2013 at 9:33 am

Hi Angela–thanks!! Ah, Practical Magic!!–I read that book and then saw the film years ago and enjoyed it all very much. 🙂 Yes, it sounds too hot for the oven in your corner of the world. But you’re right, the recipe will keep for cooler weather. A very Merry Christmas back to you!


7 Veronica December 18, 2013 at 11:46 am

Yum! I love making dog biscuits, but since I don’t have a dog of my own at the present moment, I don’t get to very often. 🙂 They are fun and easy to make – it’s great they inspired you to make a version for the 2-legged kind. I will put these on the list to try, and it’ll be nice to get out my cookie cutters again!
I hope you stay warm – I don’t know how you do it! You’re hardier folk than I, especially since you go out in it to walk Romeo… I hope the weather levels out and your stove provides warmth and no more issues!


8 moonwatcher December 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Thanks so much for all the “warm” thoughts, Veronica–and glad I inspired you to get your cookie cutters out. I’ll look forward to what you come up with. You know, the weather is hard, but there’s nothing like breathing in that clean, cold air, either. Guess I’m hooked on that part of it. And it raises the spirits to get outside every day. Silkens love Winter and snow, so it’s fun to see Romeo enjoy it, too. But it’s nice to come in and be in front of the fire as well. 🙂


9 Sophie December 21, 2013 at 5:30 pm

The recipe looks yummy–I will definitely be making some this weekend.


10 moonwatcher December 21, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Welcome, Sophie, and thank you!! I hope you enjoy them. 🙂


11 Sherisse January 2, 2014 at 4:59 pm

This looks wonderful Maria, I really can’t wait to try! I usually make the Happy Herbivore sugar cookies around Christmas but would love to try a lower fat version. So thank you!


12 moonwatcher January 2, 2014 at 5:16 pm

You’re very welcome, Sherisse! I hope you enjoy them as much as we did. 🙂


13 Corrin Radd March 1, 2014 at 5:52 am

Made these today. We added a bit more sweetener for our tastes. Thanks!


14 moonwatcher March 1, 2014 at 9:05 am

You’re welcome, Corrin–so glad it worked out. Thanks for letting me know. Good strategy to customize sweetener to personal tastes.


15 Airyfairycelt December 31, 2014 at 3:27 am

Morning again, moonwatcher
Oh, these sound perfect for Hogmanay too!
I hope you have a happy and hopeful time as I wish for all.
I have to admit that when I had a dog I made dog biscuits for us both (it created havoc as he always was determined they were all his!). I did manage to snaffle a few!


16 moonwatcher December 31, 2014 at 9:39 am

Yes, dogs first, of course. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the gingersnaps too. 🙂


17 Red November 3, 2015 at 11:46 pm

My dilemma is that I don’t like buckwheat. Do you think I could use Teff? It has a natural sweetness to it that might enhance it. What do you think?


18 Maria Theresa Maggi November 4, 2015 at 8:40 am

Hi Red! Thanks for your question. Yes, I think teff would go well as a substitute in this recipe. I might try it myself sometime to change things up. 🙂


Previous post:

Next post: