One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the baking. I remember eagerly waiting for the shopping trip where my mom and dad would come home with all the baking ingredients. Chocolate, maraschino cherries, rice krispies, walnuts, marshmallows, and sprinkles were things that rarely found their way into our childhood kitchen except at Christmas, but just a couple of weeks before Christmas they arrived for the great baking day. My mother and my older sisters would make all kinds of goodies, while the younger ones, including myself, helped mix, did cookie cut outs, and licked bowls. Then it all would go into the freezer to wait for the week of Christmas when it would be thoroughly enjoyed.
While my girls won’t have the memories of maraschino cherries(I’ve actually always disliked them), marshmallows or rice krispies, we have been busy creating our own Christmas baking memories.
One of the hardest things for me about Aneliese not being able to have gluten has been Christmas baking. We’ve made shortbread cookies but they always just fall apart during the decorating and so on. My favorites , melting shortbread and butter tarts just aren’t the same. I could (and have) made those things and kept them separate but than I have to do it when the girls aren’t there because Aneliese can’t even touch the flour. I want us to be able to bake and enjoy these special treats together and so this year I decided to jump in with both feet.
Rather than trying to replicate the tastes that I remember, I just decided to start fresh and choose a few treats that we would all enjoy. And so here are our family’s five favorite GF Christmas goodies. Some of them are almost completely healthy in moderation as they are sweetened with honey, while others use refined sugar BUT no corn syrup etc.
II should note, that while these are all gluten free and so for a more specific audience, I assure you that in my opinion they all, but especially the peppermint patties and peanut butter bears can hold their own against any of their counterparts. They really are good.
(Click the title for the complete recipe.)
1. Stocking Cap Bears (Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Balls)
This is a favourite recipe that we make through out the year without the chocolate dipping. To make it special for Christmas we dipped them in chocolate, mmm. We think they look like little bears with stocking caps, hence the name!
2. Shortbread Cookies (Cut-Out)
We made the second recipe and it is delicious! I left out the Xanthan gum because it really is yucky stuff and the cookies don't need it at all, they turned out perfectly. They handle very well for cookie cutters.
3. Butter Tart Squares (Gluten-Free Shortbread Base)
As I mentioned, butter tarts are my favorite Christmas treat, but I don't really enjoy making GF pastry so I decided to nix the pastry and attempt some squares instead. It took a couple of tries but I do believe I have it. I made the crust using the shortbread recipe above. They are seriously delicious and I’m almost not missing my mama’s butter tarts this year!
4. Peppermint Patties
I always remember my cousin walking around after Christmas dinner and offering After Eights. They always tasted so delicious. These Peppermint patties from Elana's Pantry are simple to make with only four ingredients. They are healthy too! She recommends agave nectar, but I use honey and add about 1/2 cup of fine unsweetened coconut. I also added a two drops of food coloring. They are best stored in the fridge or freezer.
5. Gingerbread People
This recipe was shared from Canadian Living and I was amazed at how good it tasted . And I don't even really like gingerbread! The recipe calls for shortening but I used butter. For flour I did 2 parts rice to 1 part starch (Tapioca). They rolled out and handle very well. They are a perfect cookie for making with little ones. I made some thin and cooked till crispy while make others thick and cooking for a shorter time. Both work well but the crispy ones are stronger. We decorated ours with this royal icing that I made using homemade icing sugar.
I'm done baking for this Christmas but I'd love to hear some of your favorite recipes, especially those that are healthy and/or gluten free.