Maybe it's because of the holiday season or the cold weather, but I've been in a serious baking mood this last month.
There's something about creating delicious, healthy desserts that makes me feel really accomplished - it sort of feels like I've managed to "beat the system" when my kids are salivating over the cakes and cookies that we make together at home, and which are actually filled with wholesome ingredients.
And, let me tell you, this is especially challenging when chocolate or jelly-filled deep-fried sufganiyot line every bakery window during the eight days of Chanukah.
As a kid, I remember making sugar cookies with Chanukah-themed cut-outs like dreidels and menorahs, while my Christian friends were probably making theirs with Christmas tree and candy cane shapes. The best part was decorating our cookies with colorful icing.
I love passing down these types of holiday traditions to my kids. It's a way to preserve family traditions and create a sense of connectivity between the generations.
This particular cookie dough recipe is adapted from Glutenfreebaking.com. What will make or break this recipe is chilling the dough before rolling it, so do not skip this step. If you haven't worked with gluten-free dough before, it's less structured than regular dough and doesn't hold together very well (because that's one of the functions of gluten).
The staring ingredients are:
Almond flour - filled with protein, healthy fat, and fiber as well as calcium, magnesium, vitamin E and various B vitamins. Basically, they're an energy powerhouse.
Cinnamon - helps stabilize blood sugar, which further helps to prevent an energy crash after eating these.
And coconut oil - fuels the nervous system and improves brain function.
These are a perfect treat to make any time of the year, and especially popular among the toddler crowd. Just grab your favorite cookie cutters and have fun!
Recipe: Holiday sugar cookies
1 cup almond flour
1 cup arrowroot starch (or tapioca starch)
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup coconut sugar
¼ cup coconut oil, solid
1 large organic egg
1 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
In the bowl of an electric mixer, place your flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and coconut sugar. Mix the dry ingredients together gently with a spoon.
Add in the coconut oil, egg, water and vanilla. Set the mixer to medium speed and beat everything together until a batter has formed. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and then beat again.
If you don’t have an electric mixer, you can use a hand mixer instead to beat in the wet ingredients. Or, if you have no mixing gadgets, you can just mix everything by hand with a large wooden spoon – but, in this case, you’ll want to bring your coconut oil to liquid form before adding it in.
Once your batter is ready, use a spatula to transfer it from the mixing bowl to a smaller bowl, and cover. Then place it in the freezer for 30 minutes. It’s critical for the dough to harden a bit, otherwise it’s impossible to roll it out. If you have more time, or plan to make the cookies the following day, simply place the dough in the fridge until you're ready to work with it.
Time to make the cookies! Heat your oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper (preferably unbleached).
Choose a large clean surface – I used our dining table. Set out a piece of parchment paper, transfer your dough onto it and flatten it slightly with your hands. Place another piece of parchment paper over top and then use your rolling pin to flatten the dough to your desired thickness. (I suggest not going too thin, or your cookie cut outs will start to fall apart when you try to move them to the baking tray. Use your best judgement.)
Use any shapes you like to create your cookie cut outs. You’ll need to work quickly as the longer the dough stays out, the more 'melty' it becomes and the harder it gets to roll. But, don’t fret – if your dough is getting melty just pop it back into the freezer for 5-10 minutes to let it firm up again.
Once the cut-outs are ready, transfer them to the baking tray and then pop them into the over for 7-10 minutes. Keep an eye on the time and on the cookies so that they don’t over-bake. Once they’re a bit browned around the edges, pull them out.
Frosting option – spread a thin layer of nut or seed butter ( I used almond butter) on the cookies & add colorful sprinkles.