Thursday, December 20, 2012

Allergen-free Christmas treats

If there's one thing I absolutely love, it's Christmas.  I love everything about it.  The songs, the movies, the lights, the tree, the presents under the tree....and the cookies.  Oh, the cookies.  When I was growing up, my favorites were  peanut butter blossoms.  Man, I could not wait for them to cool just enough to help my mom pop the Hershey's kisses on top.  They melted in my mouth.  Literally.  Well, you won't find any peanut products in or near this house.  And of course the remaining ingredients are mostly off limits, too (wheat flour, eggs, butter). Is there Christmas-cookie-life after allergies?

Indeed there is.  In fact, in the last few days I have made some of the best treats I have ever tasted in my life.  I think my sugar cookies top the peanut butter blossoms, and that is no small feat.  I'm impressed with the outcome of all my tasty treasures, and am so excited my kids got to have a cookie decorating party this morning...and lick to their heart's content!  Never mind the crash that occurred an hour later....nor the fact that I am a genius and mopped the floor yesterday....

These were worth it!

Here's what we made in order of favorites (most to least, but there really is no least because these are all larping...a family word for scrumptiously delicious): chocolate sandwich cookies, sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies (not Christmasy, but who can resist a delicious chocolate chip cookie?!), sprinkle-coated homemade marshmallows, and gingerbread muffins.  I honestly recommend all of these, they are all so good, and my kids' frosting-stained faces are proof!  Here are the recipes:

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
1/2 cup Spectrum all vegetable shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons applesauce (I used homemade, yum)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoon egg replacer mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water (mix well and let sit for a few minutes)
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum, unless your flour mix already has it
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

Cream Filling:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons Spectrum all vegetable shortening
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of salt
3 tablespoons water (as needed)

1.  With a stand mixer, combine shortening and sugar using a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add vanilla, applesauce, and egg replacer.  Mix for another minute.

2.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flour mix, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  

3.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing on low until smooth.  

4.  Divide the dough in half and place each on a sheet of plastic wrap.  Fold the plastic over the dough and roll until you have a log about 2 inches in diameter.  Wrap the plastic at the ends and place in the fridge for 2 hours.  Repeat with the other half of the dough.  

5.  Preheat the oven to 325.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  

6.  Remove one log from the fridge (you will want to keep the other one cold until just ready to use).  Roll again to reshape.  Unwrap and use a sharp knife to cut into 1/4 inch slices.  You will be able to fit at least 20 on a sheet.  Bake for 9 minutes on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Let cool on pan for a few minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool.  Repeat with the other log.

7.  For the filling: Blend together the powdered sugar, shortening, vanilla, salt, and 1 tablespoon of the water on low speed for about 5 minutes until well blended.  At this point if it is not creamy enough to spread, add more water 1/2 tablespoon at a time.  Spread the filling on one side of a cookie and cover with another. 

8.  Store in an airtight container and refrigerate leftover filling.  Or just give the bowl to your kids to lick it.  I mean clean it.  

Sugar & Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (unless your flour blend already has it)
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
8 tablespoons Spectrum all vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons applesauce
2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chunks (for the chocolate chip cookies...I guess that makes them chocolate chunk cookies, doesn't it?)

1.  Wisk together the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. 

2.  Cut the shortening into tablespoon-sized pieces and place them on top of the flour mixture.  Using a pastry blender, cut the shortening into the flour mixture until crumbly.

3.  Add the applesauce and continue cutting with the pastry blender.  

4.  Add cold water 1/2 tablespoon at a time, as needed.  Continue cutting until the dough forms.  You can also use your hands to form the dough.  At this point, add chocolate chunks if you choose.  

5.  Roll the dough into a long cylinder, about 2 inches in diameter.  Wrap in plastic and store in the fridge for 2 hours.  

6.  Preheat the oven to 350 and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Slice the cookies about 1/4 inch thick and place on cookie sheet.  If you are using chocolate chunks, it will be hard to cut, so just break off in small clumps.  

7.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

I used the same frosting as above for the chocolate sandwich cookies, but instead of using 3 tablespoons of water as needed, I used 2 tablespoons of vanilla rice milk.  Decorate with sprinkles (I recently learned that sprinkle ingredients vary by brand and some in fact contain wheat starch, so be sure to check the labels!)

I should mention that buckwheat has a grayish-brownish, sort of unappetizing color.  However, the taste is amazing.  Better than any wheat flour cookie I have had.  No joke.

Homemade Marshmallows
2 tsp canola oil for greasing pan
1 cup cold cup water
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp clear vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

1.  Line a 13 by 9 inch pan with foil and grease with oil.  Set aside.  

2.  In a large, metal bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup water.  Set aside

3  In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining water.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reacher 240 degrees (it will resemble a soft ball at this point)

4.  Remove from heat and slowly add to gelatin mix.  Beat on high until mixture is thick and the volume is doubled.  This will take about 15 minutes, so turn on your stand mixer and go start a load of laundry.

5.  After about 15 minutes, add in the vanilla.  Spread into prepared pan.  Cover and let stand at room temperature for 6 hours or overnight.

6.  Using foil, lift marshmallows out of pan (slowly peel the foil away).  With a pizza cutter coated with canola oil, cut into 1 inch squares.  Coat marshmallows in sprinkles, chocolate toppings, chocolate chips, etc.  We even used cake pop sticks and turned them into marshmallow sticks!

Gingerbread Muffins
1/2 cup canola oil
1 2/3 cups applesauce
1 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1.  Preheat oven to 350, line muffin tin with muffin liners

2.  In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine canola oil and agave nectar.  Mix on medium for about 20 seconds.

3.  Add the applesauce and ginger.  Mix for another 20 seconds.

4.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt.

5.  Add dry ingredients with the wet and mix until just combined.

6.  Fill liners to the brim with batter.

7.  Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack.  Let cool for about 30 minutes.  Store in an airtight container or pop them in the freezer.  These freeze really well and are a nice treat to have on hand!


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  2. YUM! Those look amazing! No wonder your girls had a sugar crash!