When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sweet holiday treats: 8 delicious gluten, dairy, and egg-free recipes

Baking sweet treats to enjoy and share at gatherings with family and friends over the Christmas season has always been a fun part of our holiday preparations.  In the first while after we learned about our family's food sensitivities, I was determined to find gluten, dairy, egg, and as refined sugar-free as possible cookie recipes so that Will and I could still participate in holiday dessert time (because isn't that one of the most wonderful times of the year?!).   There was a lot of experimenting, throughout which some recipes were huge hits and others were huge flops, and so for a couple of Christmases, I continued to bake mostly our traditional cookies and just a few allergy-friendly kinds so there would be something for everyone.  Over the past few years, though, I have either developed or found a really wonderful variety of delicious gluten, dairy, and egg-free holiday treat recipes, and so these days our Christmas cookie tray is filled only with goodies that everyone in our family can eat.  It makes me feel good to be able to tell Will he can choose whichever treat he would like, and all of us, food sensitivities or not, have new yummy favourites that are healthier versions of the sweets we used to bake before.

I thought I would share all of the recipes that I used for our holiday baking this year, in the hope that it might help other families with food sensitivities who are looking for delicious and safe Christmas-y treats.  I've provided a link to each recipe so you can find the ingredients and directions elsewhere on my site, or on other wonderful blogs that I visit often for inspiration. 

Chocolate Hazelnut Snowballs from Pocketfuls

Gingerbread Cookies from Elana's Pantry

I have made a few changes to this recipe to accommodate our food sensitivities and personal preferences.  To make the gingerbreads egg-free, I substitute two tablespoons of arrowroot powder added to the dry ingredients and six tablespoons of water added to the wet ingredients for the two eggs.  I omit the yacon syrup (because I've never been able to find it!) and use an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup of agave nectar instead. I also omit the lemon zest.  I only use one generous teaspoon of ground ginger rather than a full tablespoon, and only 1/2 a teaspoon of baking soda rather than a full teaspoon.  The boys like to help decorate these cookies with fruit-juice sweetened dried cranberries.


Cranberry Almond Crumble Squares from Pocketfuls

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

For the dough, I use a Chewy Chocolate Cookie recipe from Elana Amsterdam's Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook.  I roll about a tablespoonful of the dough into a ball for each cookie and place them all on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  I flatten each ball of dough with the palm of my hand.  I bake the cookies for approximately 12 minutes, then I remove them from the oven and add a sprinkling of Enjoy Life allergy-friendly mini chocolate chips and crushed TruJoy Organic Candy Canes (which are gluten-free and contain no corn syrup or artificial colours or flavours) on top.  I put the cookies back in the oven and bake them for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Star Cookies from Elana's Pantry

Before baking these cookies, I add a little sprinkle of Let's Do... Sprinkels confetti (which is gluten-free and contains no artificial colours) to the centre of each cookie for fun.

Chocolate Cashew Butter Cups from Pocketfuls

Thumbprint Cookies based on this Linzer Heart Cookie recipe from Elana's Pantry

I follow Elana's recipe exactly for the cookie dough, but rather than rolling it and using cookie cutters to make hearts, I roll about a tablespoonful of the dough into a ball for each cookie and place them all on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  I flatten the balls with the palm of my hand, make an indentation in each one with my thumb, and then carefully place a small spoonful of raspberry jam in each indentation.  These cookies melt in your mouth!

Chocolate Pomegranate Clusters from Lexie's Kitchen

These little treats are so pretty and so simple to make!  I use chopped dark chocolate (72% cocoa) rather than the chocolate chips Lexie uses; I melt it in a saucepan over low heat and use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate in the paper cups.

Photo credit:  Alexa Croft of Lexie's Kitchen

Happy baking!  I hope your family enjoys these sweet treats over the holidays as much as mine does.

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