Gluten-Free Cookie Recipes for the Holidays

From shortbread to gingerbread, try these 3 delectable gluten-free cookie recipes.
By Jeanne Sauvage
February 8, 2013
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“Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays” offers 60 gluten-free recipes with all the flavors of their wheat-filled counterparts. Make olive oil cake, plum pudding, a Yule log and so many other tasty favorites.
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The holidays are a time to celebrate and indulge in baked goods warm from the oven. Unfortunately for the gluten-sensitive, seasonal pleasures such as sugar cookies and mincemeat tarts have been off-limits. Not anymore! Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays (Chronicle Books, 2012) offers a world of gluten-free holiday delights sure to please anyone’s palate. Jeanne Sauvage, author of the popular blog Art of Gluten-Free Baking, offers recipes for apple pie, plum pudding, rugelach and so much more. Participate in a classic holiday tradition and try these 3 gluten-free cookie recipes without worrying about allergies. 

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays.

Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookie Recipe

Originating in Scotland, shortbread was among the first types of butter cookie. It was initially made with just three ingredients: flour, butter, and sugar. Over the years, bakers have added flavorings, like salt and vanilla. Shortbread is traditionally served on the Scottish holiday Hogmanay, a New Year’s Eve celebration that lasts from the evening of December 31 through January 2. The origin of the word is much debated, but it seems to have come from an old French word for a gift given at New Year’s or for New Year’s itself. Shortbread cookies are delicate—they are crumbly, taste of butter and vanilla, and will melt in your mouth.

Yields 12 to 16 wedges

Ingredients: 

3/4 cup / 170 g unsalted butter, cut into smaller pieces, plus more for greasing the pan 
1 3/4 cup / 245 g Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour 
Pinch of salt 
1/2 cup / 100 g granulated sugar 
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 

Instructions: 

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Grease a 9-in/23-cm pie pan with butter.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the flour, salt, butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium until the mixture looks like wet sand (this may take a few minutes).

Turn out the dough into the prepared pie pan. (It will pour like wet sand.) Carefully press the dough into the pie pan. The dough should cover the bottom of the pan and not go up the sides. With a sharp knife, cut 12 to 16 equal wedges. I recommend making an initial cut from top to bottom, and then another cut from side to side, dividing the circle into equal quarters. Then, cut 3 to 4 equal wedges from each quarter. After you’ve cut the dough, prick it all over with the tines of a fork.

Bake until the edges begin to brown, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack to cool. With a sharp knife, carefully recut the cookie wedges. Let the cookies cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Cutout Cookies

Cutout cookies are a must for the holiday season. The wonderful thing about this dough is that it can be cut into any shape or size that a particular holiday requires. I make the dough year-round and use cookie cutters that suit the occasion. The cookies are fun to decorate. When my daughter was a toddler, we painted the icing on the cookies instead of piping it. Painting the cookies was so much easier. Now that she is older, it is a wonderful way for both of us to get creative when decorating the cookies. Each cookie can be a masterpiece.

Yields about 30 cookies

Ingredients: 

Cookies:
2 cups / 280 g Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp salt 
1/2 cup / 115 g unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1 cup / 200 g granulated sugar 
1 extra-large egg, at room temperature 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
1/2 tsp grated lemon or orange zest (optional) 
Tapioca flour for dusting 
Colored sugar for decorating (optional) 

Icing:
2 cups / 225 g confectioners’ sugar, sifted 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
4 to 6 Tbsp heavy cream, or more if needed 
Food coloring in various colors (optional) 

Instructions: 

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat for 1 minute. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute. Add the vanilla and beat to combine. Add the lemon zest (if using). Add the flour mixture and beat until combined.

Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a disk, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes, or for up to 3 days.

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C/gas mark 5. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Remove one dough disk from the refrigerator. If the dough is rock hard, let it warm up a bit. Place the dough between two pieces of waxed paper and roll to 1/8 in/3 mm thick. Using cookie cutters dipped in tapioca flour, cut out as many shapes as possible. Using a spatula, place the cutouts on the prepared sheets, spacing them at least 1 in/2.5 cm apart. Roll out the dough scraps and repeat the process until all the dough is used or the cookie sheets are full. The dough is best cut when it is firm, so you may have to return it to the refrigerator before cutting more shapes.

Sprinkle the shapes with colored sugar (if desired or leave them plain and decorate with icing after baking). Bake until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheets for about 2 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Let the sheets cool completely and repeat with the remaining dough.

While the cookies are cooling, make the icing: Place the confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl. Add the vanilla and 4 Tbsp of the cream. Whisk until all the ingredients are combined and smooth. If desired, add more cream to make the icing thinner. If you want to color the icing, divide it among small bowls and tint each bowl of icing with a different food coloring. Using a small paintbrush per color, decorate the cookies. Place the decorated cookies on the wire racks to let the icing set. Store the cookies in an airtight container, between layers of waxed paper, at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

Gingerbread cookies are the quintessential Christmas cookie. This recipe calls for the same dough prepared for a Gingerbread House. You can use cookie cutters to create any shapes you want. I have to say that you should make at least a few gingerbread men and women.

Yields 4 dozen medium cookies

Ingredients: 

Cookies:
4 1/2 cups / 630 g Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour 
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg 
1 Tbsp ground ginger 
1 cup / 225 g unsalted butter 
1 cup / 200 g granulated sugar 
1 cup / 240 ml unsulphured molasses 

Royal Icing:
3 egg whites 
4 cups / 450 g confectioners’ sugar, plus more if needed 
1/2 tsp cream of tartar 

Instructions: 

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and ginger.

In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the granulated sugar and molasses and stir until the sugar has dissolved completely.

Carefully pour the sugar mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed for several seconds until combined. The dough will be stiff and oily. Divide the dough into three fairly equal pieces, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C/gas mark 5. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator. Place the dough between two pieces of waxed paper and roll to 1/8 in/3 mm thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out as many shapes as possible. The dough is oily, so the cutter shouldn’t stick to the dough. Using a spatula, place the shapes on the prepared sheets, spacing them at least 1 in/2.5 cm apart.

Bake until the cookies are dark brown, about 15 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Let the sheets cool completely and repeat with the remaining dough.

To make the royal icing: 

In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and the cream of tartar and whisk until smooth. The mixture should be thick, but not so thick that it is a paste. Add water, 1 tsp at a time, if it is too thick. Cover the icing with plastic wrap until needed.

Decorate the cookies and let sit for about 1 hour to allow the icing to set.

Store in an airtight container, with waxed paper between the layers, at room temperature for up to 7 days.

Gluten-Free Cookie Recipes are excerpted from Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays: 60 Recipes for Traditional Festive Treats © 2012, text by Jeanne Sauvage, photographs by Clare Barboza. Used with Permission from Chronicle Books LLC, San Francisco. Visit Chronicle Books. Buy this book from our store: Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays.


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