These turtle bars are the perfect mix of a candy bar meets a cookie. With the best combination of nutty caramel, and decadent chocolate you would never guess that these bars are both gluten and dairy free.
Growing up as a kid I have so many wonderful memories of the holiday season, most of which center around my family, and baking. Since I grew up in an Italian household we actually had so many Italian Christmas baking traditions that most kids I don't think typically grew up with, but we also had a few traditional American ones, like making sugar cookies that I am sure so many of you can relate to.
While I wouldn't say that sugar cookies were the favorite go to Christmas cookie in our house...it's hard to beat out homemade anisette cookies, pizzelles, biscotti, and cannolis, I would say that cutting out and decorating the sugar cookies was by far one of our favorite nights of the season.
There is just something special about sitting with your family, sneaking as much cookie dough with your sisters that you think you can possibly get away with without your mom seeing (she has since told us we never got away with anything), and getting sticky frosting and colorful cookie decorations all over the kitchen that for me just quantifies what the holidays really are all about. They are about making memories, having lots of laughs, being surrounded by food that becomes part of our culture, and getting wrapped up in these few short weeks when everything seems to just shine a little brighter.
I honestly can't say that I have ever felt that desire for that holidays to be over, or those thoughts of "can we just skip it this year?". Every year I look forward to the memories that we recreate year after year, the funny stories that get told, the Christmas decorations, and twinkle lights decorating my home, and the general reflection that always seems to flood over me as I think about my life, and just how thankful I am to have the one I have.
So I hope that for all the families out there who have kids who may have celiac disease, or have recently gone gluten free and are hoping to keep up with some of their families holiday baking traditions, just know that this recipe really did come right for my heart and kitchen, and I hope fills your home with the tools for some wonderful memories.
gluten free Holiday sugar cookies
makes two dozen cookies
These sugar cookies are gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free (except for the icing) and have a more crisp texture than a more cake like sugar cookie consistency.
- 2 cups of all purpose gluten free baking flour (I used Bob's Red Mills)
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
- 1 tablespoons organic honey
- 8 tablespoons coconut oil (room temperature)
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1 Egg
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2.5 cups organic powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup almond milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- In a large bowl combine honey, coconut oil, coconut sugar, egg, and vanilla. Whip together until fully combined using a stand-mixer or hand-mixer
- Next, in a medium size bowl combine gluten free flour, xanthan gum, salt, and baking soda. Whisk together to remove any clumps.
- Begin to slowly add your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients, and blend together until a sticky dough forms.
- Scoop dough onto a piece of parchment paper and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Remove dough from refrigerator and allow to soften slightly.
- Once pliable, use a rolling pin to roll the dough in roughly 1/4 inch thickness.
- Using cookie cutters, cut cookies into shapes and place on baking sheet.
- Bake at 350 F for ~6 minutes or until the cookies begin to golden.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool before piping with frosting.
- To make frosting combine all ingredients in a bowl and using a hand or stand mixer slowly begin to mix together until a slightly runny icing forms, use your judgement and add extra milk/sugar as needed.
These lemon cookies may not be your traditional holiday cookie flavor profile, but boy are they tasty. With a lovely light lemon flavor, and whipped coconut airy frosting, these cookies will quickly become one of your favorites. Made gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free they are also perfect for someone trying to be a little more health conscious with their desserts this holiday season.
You may be thinking that it is the middle of winter, the holiday's are almost here, and we are talking about a lemon and blueberry cookie? Did I somehow jet myself into summer time? Why not just throw a pina colada right on in there as well while we are at it! I know, I know that this doesn't seem like the typical festive winter flavor/color combination, but I really just couldn't help myself!
There is something about lemon that I do believe fits in the holiday season rotation. We will see it as a supporting ingredient in a lot of desserts and cocktail recipes, and while I had every intention of pairing these lemon cookies with a holiday inspired pomegranate topping, once I tasted them and made the light and airy coconut cream frosting I knew that blueberries were exactly what they needed.
What I love most about these cookies is that during a time of year when foods can begin to feel overly heavy, and definitely overly sweet, these cookies are very light and airy. Depending on how long you bake them, you can end up with a slightly crunchier cookie, or if you slightly undercook them a more doughy cake like cookie/cake ball, either of which are perfectly satisfying in my book.
As I find with many gluten free cookies, these cookies do have a tendency to dry out after a few days so I would recommend making them day of if you are looking to serve for a party as they will be their very best. You can also always place the pre-made dough in the freezer and make the cookies as desired, or even freeze the whole cookie after baking to keep from going stale if you think they wont be eaten within 2-3 days.
Lemon and coconut blueberry cookies (gluten free)
makes two dozen cookies
- 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mills)
- 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (if your flour doesn't have it in it already)
- 6 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoons of honey
- 1/2 cup of coconut sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon flavor
- Zest of 1 whole lemon
- I can organic full-fat coconut milk (I like the one from Thai Kitchens)
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon flavor
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla flavor
- 2 teaspoons honey OR 4 teaspoons powdered sugar (depending on if you are avoiding refined sugar or not)
- Pint of blueberries for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Spray a cookie sheet with coconut oil spray, or line with parchment paper (these cookies will stick so make sure to grease sheet or use parchment paper)
- In a bowl, mix coconut oil, honey, sugar, and egg until fully combined.
- Next, add vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon flavor to bowl, and mix.
- In a separate bowl, combine gluten free flour, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder.
- Add the dry mixture the wet mixture, and mix until a dough forms.
- Wrap dough in parchment paper, and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours (you can also refrigerate overnight).
- Remove dough from refrigerator, and taking a tablespoon, scoop out tablespoons of dough and roll into small, golf ball sized balls, and place on greased/parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
- Repeat this process until baking sheet is filled, and place in over for 12-15 minutes.
- Remove from over and allow to cool before frosting.
Directions for Frosting
- Place can of coconut milk in the refrigerator and allow to sit overnight.
- Scoop thick coconut cream from the top of can, and discard liquid.
- Using a hand mixer/or sand mixer, whip coconut cream until it is light and fluffy.
- Add vanilla and lemon flavoring.
- Add honey to taste, you can also add 4 teaspoons of powdered sugar if desired, which will make the frosting (and taste of the cookies in general) much sweeter.
- Once frosting is whipped, spread onto cooled cookies and top with blueberries.
These linzer cookies rival even the most detailed of holiday sugar cookies for the award of most festive holiday cookie. There is just something about the simplicity of the shortbread like cookie, cut away with pretty scalloped edges, and filled with bright red raspberry filling, then dusted with what can only remind anyone this time of year with powered sugar snow.
These pumpkin-cranberry oatmeal cookies just scream Fall if you ask me. Usually I am not one for adding anything outside of chocolate chips to my oatmeal cookies, but for some reason once I started experimenting with this pumpkin version I knew that they needed another Fall flavor. This is where the cranberries come in. Cranberries are so tart and really add a different flavor to an otherwise sweet cookie, and make for the perfect balance to these Fall inspired cookies.
Personally, I have found that gluten free baking in the beginning can be very intimidating. It is just a different kind of baking that in many ways is very different from baking with your normal wheat flour, however I have found that when working with gluten free oat flour the baking process become virtually the same as it would be if you used any other normal baking flour.
For the beginner, I like that gluten free oat flour doesn't seem to require any other gums or additives to keep the cookies together. The mixture of oat flour and pumpkin puree seems to keep the cookies together just fine without the need for something like xanthan gum, which once again just makes the process of baking a little less intimidating.
So for the beginner gluten free baker (or experienced) these cookies are a great place to start with gluten free baking this holiday season to make a recipe that is sure to impress you/your loved ones and won't leave you shaking your head as to why yet another gluten free recipe didn't make the cut.
Pumpkin-Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie
makes three dozen cookies
- 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (gluten-free)
- 1 cup gluten free oat-flour
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 6 tablespoons softened vegan butter
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2/3 cup packed coconut sugar
- 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin purée
- 2 flax eggs or two regular eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, stir together oats, flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt.
- In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add pumpkin, eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
- Stir in flour mixture until just combined, and then fold in cranberries.
- Drop cookies by heaping tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets and gently press with fingers to flatten into discs (note that cookies will not spread while baking).
- Bake 20 to 24 minutes or until lightly browned.
- If baking two sheets at a time, rotate sheets half way through baking.
- Transfer to wire rack to cool.
- Store cookies in an airtight container.