Baking festive cookies to share with family and friends fills me with joy! Here are five of my favourite recipes which I have tinkered and adapted to be gluten free and coeliac friendly...
* “Bunsli” Swiss Chocolate Spice Cookies *
The favourite. Hands down the best Christmas cookie! I like using ground hazelnuts instead of almonds in my Brunsli but you can use either or a combination of both. Nice dark chocolate and that hint of cinnamon and cloves makes them so special.
You will need:
3/4 cups white crystallised sugar 1 pinch of salt
250g ground hazelnuts (you can also use almonds or a mix of both)
1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoons of ground cloves
2 tablespoons flour (I use rice flour)
2 fresh egg whites (70g), lightly beaten until frothy
100g dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa
1/2 cup white sugar for rolling/dusting
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl beat egg whites with a fork until frothy but not stiff (you can also just shake them up in a jar with a lid until frothy) Add egg whites to dry ingredients and mix. Next melt dark chocolate and pour over other ingredients and mix well. Using clean hands knead dough into a ball.
On a lightly “sugared” (more white sugar) surface roll out dough to 1cm thickness and cut into desired shapes – if your cookie cutter gets too sticky, rinse in warm water - I keep a bowl next to me for this purpose. You will also need to re-sugar the work surface.
Arrange cookies on trays lined with baking paper and sprinkle with a little more sugar. Bake in a moderate oven (180’c) for 10 minutes (they will hardern as they cool down). Once cool, store cookies in an airtight container – they will last 3 weeks if stored like this.
**I find rolling out the dough on a piece of baking paper prevents sticky dough clean up, and you can use it for baking the final batch of shapes on**
* Raspberry Marshmallows *
Making your own marshmallows is fairly simple and satisfying: they are light and delicious! These ones include real raspberries which bring a gentle pink colour and flavour...
You will need:
1/2 cup frozen or fresh raspberries
2 cups white sugar
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons powdered grass-fed beef gelatine
1/2 cup water
Place raspberries, sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Stir every so often to make sure all the sugar dissolves and the raspberries break up.
Meanwhile let the gelatine powder “bloom” by sprinkling it on top of the 1/2 cup water - I do this in a deep cooking pot or large mixing bowl.
Once the raspberry sugar syrup is gently boiling pour slowly onto the gelatine - whole beginning to beat with an electric mixer on a low speed. Slowly increase speed to high and beat mixture until it becomes thick and glossy, the colour will lighten. It takes about 8-10 minutes. Spread marshmallow mixture into a baking paper lined tray and set in the fridge for an hour or two.
Using a cookie cutter of your choosing press shapes out of the marshmallows and dust lightly with icing sugar and tapioca starch or cornflour. I make a mixture of 1 tablespoon or each. You can also use dedicated coconut. Store in an airtight container...
You can use all the offcuts for homemade rocky road or chopped up in festive warm drinks
* Zimtsternes: Cinnamon Stars *
I love to make are these cinnamon stars or “zimtsternes" as they are called in German. These are especially lovely with the addition of citrus zest and juice and ground cinnamon. Delicate, fragrant and spicy. They are often covered with white royal icing or meringue but I prefer them adorned simply with a thin brushing of egg white and a sprinkle of raw sugar...
You will need:
250 grams or 2 cups ground almond meal
1 pinch sea salt
2 tablespoons rice flour + 2 tablespoons tapioca starch OR 4 tablespoons of GF plain flour
1 cup crystallised or raw sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons lemon or orange zest
2 tablespoons lemon or orange juice
2 fresh egg whites, beaten until frothy
1 egg white, beaten and frothy, for brushing on top
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl beat egg whites until frothy but not stiff. Add egg whites to dry ingredients and mix. Next stir in citrus zest and juice. Using clean hands knead dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface (lightly sprinkled with crystallised sugar too) roll out dough to 1cm thickness and cut into desired shapes. Arrange cookies on trays lined with baking paper and air dry for 2-4 if possible before baking (I have skipped this step many times before and they have worked out fine). Preheat oven to 180'c, brush cookies with egg white and bake cookies for 10 - 15 minutes, careful not to brown them - they will harden as they cool. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.
* Gingerbread Angels *
It’s no secret that I love gingerbread. I share this recipe every year for your gluten free gingerbread needs! The psyllium husks is an unusual addition I know, but it really helps bring a little elasticity to the dough without drying it out. For added zing stir in a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger into the dough.
You will need:
3/4 cup of honey or golden syrup 2 cups of GF plain flour (or 1/2 cup rice flour, 1/2 cup buckwheat flour + 1 cup tapioca starch)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, ground cloves + ground cardamon
1 teaspoon of cocoa powder
1 tablespoon psyllium husks
1 small egg
Melt butter over low heat in medium sized saucepan, add honey or golden syrup and bring to a gentle boil, remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes. Add sifted dry ingredients, psyllium husks, spices and a small egg, stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Cover pot and stand at room temperature for 1 hour. It will thicken considerably and become more “dough” like.
Turn mixture on to surface which has been dusted with extra flour. Knead lightly, working in only enough flour until mixture loses its stickiness. I find rolling and cutting the dough on a piece of baking parchment/paper helps reduce stickiness. Roll dough to about 1/2 inch thickness and cut out shapes as desired.
Decorate with dried fruit such as cherries, currants and citrus peel. Bake in moderate oven (180’c) for 8-10 minutes or until golden. They will harden as they cool. Recipe can be doubled.
* French Style Chocolate Hearts *
This recipe is adapted from a French Christmas biscuit magazine I bought while we lived there. It’s a simple shortbread that is sure to please chocolate loving friends and relatives - with both flecks of chocolate throughout the cookie and one side dipped in rich, dark chocolate.
You will need:
2 cups GF plain flour (or 1 cup each rice flour and tapioca starch)
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup chocolate sprinkles or chopped chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
pinch of salt
70g dark chocolate (70%) for melting
In a large bowl combine the above ingredients (except dark chocolate for melting) and shape with your hands into a ball. You can use a food processor on a low speed if you rather. Wrap dough in foil or plastic-wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Meanwhile preheat oven to 180'c. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/2 cm thickness and cut into hearts - arrange on baking-paper lined trays bake until golden for 10-15 minutes. Cool. Melt dark chocolate and taking each heart dip one side into the chocolate, letting any excess chocolate drip off - before placing back onto the baking-paper lined tray to dry. It should take about 1 hour or two for the chocolate to set.
ABOUT the author
Emily Clare Sims is a farmer and mama to three young boys. Each day she looks for ways to notice beauty, contemplate her faith and savour the seasons...