south african spice cookies

south african spice cookies

snowed in? same. for me, that means it’s time to bake cookies.

this recipe is a vegan-ized version of a traditional south african cookie. why south africa? well, one I wish I was there right now (70-80 degrees!). two, they have delicious food inspired by many cultures, from native south africans to the dutch.

this particular food is cookies. they are traditionally called soetkokies, which literally means “sweet cookies” in afrikaans. according to some super-reliable internet research, they are of dutch and african origin. in traditional recipes, they are made with pig fat and eggs, but this vegan version omits both of those ingredients for plant-based subs.  

south african spice cookies 2

no, if you were going to ask, these are not healthy by any means. they are full of all the ingredients that make cookies great. tastewise, these are delicious. they are kind of like gingersnaps, but less ginger-y and sweet and more biscuit-y and spicy. they pair really nicely with a traditional south african rooibos tea. 

don’t worry though. these are super easy to make. I was able to make a full batch in about an hour, even though I was taking pictures all the while. 

as always let me know if you try this recipe by leaving on comment on here or on social media. don’t forget to follow me on instagram and pinterest (@teeneatsplants)!

comment challenge: if you could teleport anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?

country: south africa!

how to make south african spice cookies — a visual guide

adapted from here

makes 24 3-inch cookies

  • 3 tablespoons water 
  • 1 tablespoon flaxmeal
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup corn or arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter
  • 1 3/4 cup + 2 tbl sugar (I used coconut palm sugar.)
  • 5 teaspoons vegan port (sub: 1 tbl water + 1 tsp vinegar)
  • almonds, for decoration

step one: make flax egg. you can also use another vegan egg replacer if you have a favorite, but I prefer flax eggs in baked goods. the process is pretty simple: just mix 3 tablespoons water with 1 tablespoon flaxmeal and let it sit for 15 minutes. as you can see, it will become gooey and egg-like. 


step two: make almond meal (optional). it’s always better to use store-bought, but if you don’t use almond meal often, it’s not a smart purchase. I found that to make the amount required for this recipe,  I used about 3 heaping tablespoons of fresh almonds. the best way to make almond meal is with a coffee grinder, but a high speed blender with a sharp blade may also work.

step three: mix the corn or arrowroot starch, all purpose flour, baking soda and spices together. you don’t have to sift it, but you can if you want.



step four: cream butter and sugar on low speed in a stand mixer with the beater attachment. if you are using regular (dairy) butter, it’s best to use butter that has been sitting out of the fridge for a while. fortunately for us vegans, vegan butter softens extremely quickly. as far as sugar, I used coconut palm sugar, which is what gave the cookies their dark color. if you want a light cookie, use white sugar.

south african spice cookies butter sugar 1

south african spice cookies butter sugar 2

step five: add flax and almond meal to the mixer, then beat on low until combined.

south african spice cookies flax meal 1

south african spice cookies flax meal 2

step six: add vegan wine and mix until incorporated. port is best for this recipe, but since most port isn’t vegan I just subbed 1 teaspoon vinegar and 1 tablespoon water. if you are going to use wine, make sure it’s vegan!

south african spice cookies wine 1

south african spice cookies wine 2

step seven: incorporate dry ingredients, half at a time. gradually increase the speed on the mixer from low (stir on kitchenaid) to medium-low (6 on kitchenaid) to prevent splashing. a stiff dough should form.

south african spice cookies dry 1

south african spice cookies dry 2

south african spice cookies dough 1

step six: freeze dough in tightly-wrapped plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes, or leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours. this will help the dough stiffen up. when you take it out of the fridge/ freezer, preheat the oven to 400 F.

step seven: roll to 1/4 inch thickness. this may be difficult to do since the dough is extremely dry, but do your best to get it as thin as possible. use a cup rim to cut out circles. it’s okay if the dough crumbles a little when you transfer it from the rolling surface to the baking sheet. if you have raw almonds on hand, add an almond or almond slivers for decoration.

south african spice cookies bake B


step eight: cook for 9-10 minutes at 400 degrees fahrenheit, or until cookies are slightly browned around edges. if you have toasted almonds on hand, press almonds or almond slivers into cookies as soon as you take them out of the oven.

step nine: let the cookies set up on the baking sheet for another 2-3 minutes. devour. (preferably, with a cup of rooibos tea.)

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