GF & MF Holiday Cookies

It is the holiday season!  Snow is in the air, the fireplaces are crackling, people are bundled up in their blankets sipping hot chocolate…or if you live in Southern California like me, it is a mild 75 ºF and you are just glad that it isn’t in the 90s like last year.

I am generally considered the baker in the family, so for any family or friend gatherings I am usually put in charge of desserts.  I really don’t mind though, because being allergic to gluten and milk I like creating GF/MF creations that no one can tell, and I know I can at least eat the dessert at every party I go to! (that is the most important food group after all).  Each year I embark on a new adventure; one Christmas I made a bunch of different fudge flavors (that didn’t turn out so great…sorry fam!), sometimes I make different pies, cupcakes, or even Christmas bark.  This year, I went for the one dessert we all think of when we think of Christmas: cookies.  More specifically, amazingly tasted and decorated gluten and milk free Christmas cookies.  I made 6 varieties in all, and though not all of them are “cookies,” they are all snackable like a good cookie should be.  We will be going to my mom’s house for Christmas Eve and my husbands family’s house for Christmas day, so I bought 12 cute containers from Michael’s (on sale for a dollar!!) and each type of cookie got its own container, and I divided them evenly between the two households.  Now instead of awkwardly trying to stuff a piece of pie down your throat  while you are still amazingly full from dinner so the baker doesn’t feel bad, our family can snack on cookies (and the like) all night while we open presents.

I decided to be a rebel and take regular recipes and convert them to GF/MF.  A lot of blogs say that it can be “so tricky” and to stay away from it unless you are “an experienced baker” (I don’t consider myself THAT experienced) but I have converted dozens of recipes and usually they all turn out pretty darn amazing.  Below are the 6 recipes I used, many I found on allrecipes.com (I’ll include the original link) and I will walk you through how I converted them.

#1: Rice Krispies Wreaths

Ok, so not a cookie, but close, right?  And look at how darn cute they are.  I took the recipe off the Rice Krispies box and added a few alterations:

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbs butter (or non-dairy alternative)
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows
  • 6 C Rice Krispies
  • Green food coloring

Directions:

  1. You can use a saucepan if you are talented to melt your marshmallows, but I find a microwave safe bowl is MUCH easier.  So either way, melt the butter and marshmallows until completely melted.
  2. Add about a thousand drops (slightly exaggerating) green food coloring (might want to add a few drops of blue too to make it darker).  Keep dropping and mixing until you get the right color for your wreaths.  For me, by the time I was happy my marshmallow goo was a bit too cool, so I popped it back in the microwave for a few seconds.
  3. Add Rice Krispies to your goo and stir until completely covered.
  4. Shape the mixture into wreaths.  For me it was easier to make them into a loose ball, poke a hole with my fingers, and then flatten.  Once I did a few I sprinkled them with different sprinkles before they cooled.  Decorate with frosting bow if you feel festive.
Rice Krispies Wreaths
Rice Krispies Wreaths

#2: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Like most milk free people, they miss Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups….like bad.  Well I do anyway, so once a year for Christmas I make my own and even though they might not be quite as delicious (mine do have less yummy chemicals after all) they are still pretty amazing.

Ingredients:

  • Chocolate chips of your choice (my fave are Ghirardelli in the gold package, I think they are semi-sweet?, they are MF)
  • Creamy PB of your choice (Ive made it with actual “Reese’s PB” or “fake” PB like Skippy works well too)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Mini cup liners (got some festive ones on sale at Michael’s)

Directions:

  1. Coat your chocolate chips with a thin layer of vegetable oil and melt.  I have melted both on the stove top and in the microwave, and since I don’t have a double boiler it is MUCH easier (and way less likely to burn) using the microwave.  Either way works, just melt your chips with a little oil.
  2. Line mini muffin tins with your liners.
  3. Pour enough chocolate in each liner to just cover the bottom (about 1/3 of the way).
  4. Put a few spoonfuls of your PB in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for a few seconds so it is a bit thinner.  This is not mandatory, but will make the PB a lot easier to work with, just trust me.
  5. Spoon a small amount of the PB on top of the layer of chocolate, just enough to make a thin layer (another 1/3 of the way up the liner).
  6. Pour another small layer of chocolate on top.  You should just about fill the liner completely.
  7. Try to do steps 3-6 within a small window of time, if they cool too much between layers the Peanut Butter Cups will break in half or separate when you bite into them.  Cool cups until chocolate is hard before consuming.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

#3:  Puppy Chow

Yes, I know Puppy Chow is amazingly similar to chocolate peanut butter cups.  Please try to tell my husband that.  He demanded I make puppy chow too, and he was so excited about it I caved and made it.  If nothing else it is probably the easiest on the list for snacking.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C butter (or non-milk alternative)
  • 2 C chocolate chips
  • 1 C creamy peanut butter (again, the fakest PB you can find works best, I usually use Skippy)
  • About a bag of powdered sugar
  • 1 package Chex (always GF!!)

Directions:

  1. Melt peanut butter, butter, and chocolate chips in whatever way strikes your fancy.
  2. Carefully (Chex are great at crumbling) mix in Chex until completely covered in chocolate mix.
  3. Spoon into a gallon baggie (I have found it is actually easier to put in TWO gallon baggies, more room for a more even coating)
  4. Cover with powdered sugar and shake bag until completely coated.
Puppy Chow
Puppy Chow

#4: Spicy Italian Cookies

These I found on allrecipes and converted.  It is called Meatball Cookies on that website, horrible name, so I changed it (in my defense others were calling it Spicy Italian Cookies too).  Click on the name above for the original recipe, or just read below for my alterations.

Ingredients:

  • 3 C of your favorite gluten free flour (I have tried like a million, and Betty Crocker is my fav)*
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum*
  • 2/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 C butter (or non-dairy)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Alternate add ins:  walnuts, mini chocolate chips (I didn’t add any and they tasted great as-is)

Directions:

  1. Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, and eggs.
  2. In a separate bowl, add flour, xanthan gum, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices and mix together. Add flour mixture to butter mixture.
  3. Refrigerate dough for a few hours.*
  4. When ready to bake, heat oven to 350ºF and grease baking sheets.
  5. Roll dough into small 1/2 inch -1 inch balls (will slightly expand).
  6. Place on the greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until firm.
  7. Remove from oven, let rest for a few minutes and then move to cooling rack.
  8. Once cool, frost (cookies are not really sweet on their own, which is why frosting is very important to add the sweet factor) (Other idea I read on allrecipes is to dust with powdered sugar instead of frosting)

* my own alterations/add ins

Frosting with squeeze bottle
Frosting with squeeze bottle

I found this idea online this year and HAD to try it.  Put your favorite frosting in squeeze bottles (I found mine in packs of two at Michael’s in the baking isle).  So much easier than piping bags, way less mess, can store in the bottle for a few days if you are making cookies over a few days.  The frosting I made: pour powdered sugar into a soup bowl, add a little milk (I used almond), and mix until all the clumps are gone.  Continue to add more powdered sugar or milk until it is a thick frosting consistency.  Then add food coloring of choice and mix in.  Pour into squeeze bottles.

Spicy Italian Cookies
Spicy Italian Cookies

#5: Gingerbread Cookies

Isn’t gingerbread one of those Christmas traditions that most of us can live without? (like fruit cake!) But if you find the right gingerbread recipe and it isn’t rock hard, it can actually be pretty good.  This is one of those recipes, click on the title for the original.

Ingredients:

  • 3 C GF flour*
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum*
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (original called for 2 tsp, but I am not a huge ginger fan and this, for me anyway, was the perfect amount)*
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 C butter (or non-dairy)
  • 3/4 C packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 C molasses (reviewers said in a pinch corn syrup will work as a replacement)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Mix flour, xanthan gum, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg and vanilla; mix well.
  3. Gradually beat in flour mixture into butter mixture on low speed until well mixed.
  4. If you plan on rolling the dough out to make cute gingerbread men, flatten the dough into disks and wrap in plastic wrap.  If you are going to make balls like mine, just cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.  
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 ºF.
  6. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured work surface. Cut into gingerbread men shapes with 5-inch cookie cutter. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  7. OR, roll dough into small balls (will expand a bit when cooked), roll in sugar or white sprinkles, place 1 inch apart on baking sheets.  Slightly press down tops of balls otherwise they will turn out very round.*
  8. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of cookies are set and just begin to brown. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Decorate cooled cookies as desired.

* my own alterations/add ins

Gingerbread Cookies
Gingerbread Cookies

#6:  Sugar Cookies

Good old sugar cookies.  Christmas really isn’t complete without sugar cookies, am I right?  I bought these really great cookie cutters from Bed Bath and Beyond and I was so stoked to try them out this year (which was actually kind of my inspiration for making cookies in the first place) but I am going to blame my laziness on pregnancy hormones and by the time it was sugar cookie time, I decided to play it easy and make regular cookies instead.  I mean, round still is a shape, right? And instead of decorating them all cute like I just rolled them in sprinkles and called them a day.  But just like your mommy used to say, “It still tastes the same,” so just be happy I made you cookies and eat them already.  Again, found on allecipes and original linked to the title above.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 C white sugar
  • 1 C butter
  • 3 egg yokes (yes, yokes)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 C GF flour*
  • 1/2 and 1/8 tsp xanthan gum*
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Directions:

  1. Cream together sugar and butter. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla.
  2. Add flour, baking soda, xanthan gum, and cream of tartar. Stir.
  3. Refrigerate for a few hours.
  4. When ready to make cookies, heat oven to 350ºF and lightly grease your baking pan (or two).
  5. Form dough into walnut size balls (roll in sprinkles or colored sugar if desired*) and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Slightly flatten*. Bake 10 to 11 minutes (mine needed about 13 minutes*), until tops are cracked and just turning color.
  6. Remove from oven, remove cookies from sheet and cool on a rack.  Frost when cooled if desired.
  7. Recipe said would make 4 dozen, but it is wrong.  I could only get about 30 cookies from the recipe, and I feel my cookies are normal cookie size.  Just a heads up!

* my own alterations/add ins

Sugar Cookies
Sugar Cookies

Now what are you waiting for?  Get baking!!  🙂

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