Now that it’s December and Thanksgiving has come and gone, those who celebrate Christmas can officially start preparing. That may include planning to welcome family members and other guests who live a gluten-free lifestyle with delicious recipes that will satisfy and please everyone.
Of course, the internet offers plenty of gluten-free recipes to try, but if you’re crunched for time or just want to have a couple of separate varieties for your gluten-free guests, I’ve chosen the three that I consider to be absolutely essential.
The first Christmas cookie is a true crowd pleaser: gluten-free peanut-butter blossom cookies. I don’t know about you, but I always need at least one (or two or three) of these delicious morsels on my cookie plate on Christmas Eve. They’re pretty straightforward, too: Just replace all-purpose flour with gluten-free all-purpose flour and xanthan gum, the latter of which you can omit if your gluten-free flour blend already contains it.
You’ll need 1¼ cups of brown sugar, 1 cup of peanut butter, ½ cup of butter, 2 room-temperature eggs, 2 cups of gluten-free all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon of xanthan gum, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, ½ teaspoon of salt, and 36 chocolate kisses.
In one bowl, cream together the brown sugar, peanut butter and butter; then mix in the eggs one at a time until combined. In another bowl, combine the flour, xanthan gum, baking soda and salt. Mix these dry ingredients into the butter mixture in stages until combined. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and unwrap the chocolate kisses while you wait. Scoop 1½ tablespoons of dough for each cookie onto lined baking trays, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Press a chocolate kiss into each cookie immediately after removing the pan from the oven, and allow the cookies to cool on the pan for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. That’s it!
To print out this recipe, visit whattheforkfoodblog.com, and search for “gluten free peanut butter blossoms.”
The next cookie is a Girl Scout classic and was one of my absolute favorite treats before going gluten-free. But lo and behold, we now have a gluten-free recipe for thin mints!
For this amazing treat, you’ll need 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter; 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, chopped; ¼ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract; ½ teaspoon of pure peppermint extract; 3/4 cup of all-purpose gluten-free flour; ¼ teaspoon of xanthan gum (but omit it if your blend already contains it); ½ cup of Dutch-process or natural cocoa powder; ¼ teaspoon of baking soda; ½ teaspoon of kosher salt; ½ cup of granulated sugar; and lukewarm water by the drop, as necessary.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave, stirring as you go to prevent burning. Mix in the vanilla and peppermint extracts.
In a separate large bowl, combine the flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and sugar, and whisk to combine. Add the melted chocolate mixture, and combine until a smooth dough forms. If needed, add water by the drop so the dough is thick, but not tough or dried out.
Form the dough into a rough disk, and place it between two sheets of parchment paper to roll it into a ¼-inch-thick disk. Cut rounds with a cookie cutter or jar lid about 1½ inches in diameter, and place each round on a baking sheet an inch apart from each other. Repeat the process with the dough scraps. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time in a 300-degree oven for 7 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool completely.
To make the thin-mints glaze, melt 8 ounces of dark chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave, and mix it with a few drops of peppermint extract to taste. Drop the cooled cookies into the melted chocolate, and flip them with a fork to completely cover them with chocolate. Carefully remove the cookies with a fork, and place each on a clean piece of parchment paper. Once hardened, transfer the cookies to an airtight container for up to a week.
To print this recipe, visit glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gluten-free-thin-mints. These cookies can also be made dairy-free or vegan by using dairy-free chocolate and vegan butter sticks. Yum!
And finally, let’s spice things up with a super easy gluten-free and vegan gingerbread-cookie recipe. These cookies are just as delicious whether you make gingerbread people or simple rounds, topped off with sugar icing.
You’ll need 1 flax egg, ½ cup of brown sugar, ¼ cup of almond butter, 3 tablespoons of molasses, ¼ cup of vegan butter (softened), 3/4 teaspoon of ginger, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg (optional), ¼ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of baking soda, and 1½ cups of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour mix.
To create a flax egg, whisk 1 tablespoon of flaxseed meal with 2½ tablespoons of water in a large mixing bowl, and let it rest for 5 minutes. Once the flax egg has thickened, add the brown sugar, almond butter, molasses, softened vegan butter, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda, and beat on low with a hand mixer. Add the gluten-free flour to the wet ingredients, and stir until combined.
Chill the dough for at least one hour. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, dust flour over a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, place the dough on top with more flour, and roll it out to make a disk that’s slightly thicker than 1/8 inch. Quickly cut shapes with cookie cutters, and put the cookie sheet with the cut-out dough shapes in the freezer to set for 5 minutes.
Remove and transfer the cut-out dough shapes to another sheet, and bake them for 8 to 10 minutes, leaving two inches for spreading. Repeat the cookie-cutting process until the dough is used up.
Once the cookies are cooled on a cooling rack, mix the icing: 2 cups of icing sugar, 1 tablespoon of melted vegan butter, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of almond milk. Decorate the cookies as desired, and allow them to dry. Store them covered at room temperature for several days, or freeze them.
To print a recipe, visit minimalistbaker.com/vegan-gluten-free-gingerbread-men.
But maybe you’re just not a baker, or there are too many other things on your holiday to-do list. In that case, Kick Ash Products’ gluten-free bakery in Ellison Bay has you covered. All of its bakery items are gluten-free, including delicious granola cakes, macaroons, paleo bars, almond bundt cakes and more holiday offerings. The bakery also creates customizable cookie trays to order for your large or small gatherings this season. It’s open Wednesdays through Saturdays, 8 am – 3 pm; and Sundays, 8 am – 1 pm, through Jan. 1.
Even if you don’t follow a gluten-free diet, there may be some benefits to going gluten-free for the holidays.
“It’s a personal choice,” said Carol Ash, owner of Kick Ash Products, “but we get people in all the time saying that their lives are better because they’ve gone gluten-free. They feel better, and their digestion is better.”
During a time when we tend to overindulge on delicious holiday food, gluten-free sweets might not be a bad idea. Either way, I hope you’ll be merry and eat well this holiday season.
Learn more about Kick Ash Products’ gluten-free bakery, 12001 Mink River Road in Ellison Bay, by calling 920.854.9400 or visiting kickashproducts.com.