This recipe is for a new online friend. I hope I’m in time for her and her children to enjoy! These Top-8-Allergen-Free Christmas Cookies are gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, and soy-free. These also happen to be rice-free, oat-free, coconut-free and sesame-free. While I do my best to eliminate these allergies, I am not well versed on all cross reaction ingredients.
Please make sure that all of your ingredients are safe for you and your family.
The goal was to eliminate rice flour and eggs and create a nice sugar “butter” roll-and-cut style cookie. I suggested that she use corn flour (masa) that is labeled gluten-free and I also suggested trying sorghum flour. I really wanted to go beyond just suggesting it and test them both out for myself.
Corn flour is typically used to make tamales and tortillas. If you’ve never used corn flour to do this, I HIGHLY recommend it. It is a lot of fun and you can avoid a lot of preservatives that are typically found in store-bought tortillas. But could corn flour be used in a butter cookie recipe? I turned to my favorite Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book and adapted the very versatile wheat-based Christmas Cookie recipe that I have loved for years and replaced the wheat flour with the corn flour, added xanthan gum, and replaced the cream cheese with 5 Tablespoons of applesauce. The result was quite delicious. There is a distinct tortilla cookie flavor but it is actually quite good, especially prepared with the frosting. The cookies are not too sweet because the frosting is very sweet and you don’t want the cookies to be too sweet. However, if you do not frost the corn flour based cookies, add an addition 1/4 cup sugar to the dough.
The next batch I made was with sorghum flour and potato starch. First of all, I noticed that Bob’s Red Mill Shortbread mix (pictured) is mostly sorghum (pronounced: sore-gum) and potato starch. There is no rice flour in this mix and it is so soft and works beautifully for roll-out cookies. Of course, I am not sure what the secret ratio is of sorghum flour to potato starch, so I tried to come up with it on my own in case my readers can’t find the shortbread mix but can find the sorghum flour and potato starch (so many stores carry such a varied set of flours that one can never tell what will be available).
I will say that we were even more pleased with the sorghum/starch mix. Sorghum flour comes from sorghum cane (the stuff they use to make molasses) and it has a wonderfully soft texture. Sorghum is a bit of a miracle worker with regards to improving gluten-free texture in baking and I highly recommend that gluten-free bakers experiment with it a little more.
That said, we are enjoying the cookies from both batches, though we prefer the corn-flour ones iced (they seem to do well with the extra sweetness) and we are preferring the sorghum ones un-iced with some hot tea. Both are delicious. Enjoy!
Corn (Masa) Flour or Sorghum Flour Christmas Cookies
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together:
2 1/2 cups of Corn (Masa) Flour – make sure it is not processed with wheat and that it is certified gluten-free.
2 cups of sorghum flour mixed with 1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum
THEN CUT IN:
1/2 cup allergen-free shortening such as Spectrum non-hydrogenated palm oil shortening OR earth balance
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
5 Tablespoons of applesauce
3 Tablespoons of non-diary milk or water
Mix together by spoon and then finish mixing with hands.
Form the dough into a ball and split in two halves.
Dust the counter with either corn or sorghum flour.
Roll out the first half of the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and use cookie cutter of choice to cut out enough cookies to fill a cookie sheet. Keep re-rolling dough until you’ve used up as much as you can.
Using a fork, poke some holes in your cookies to eliminate big air bubbles in your finished cookies.
Bake for 10 minute or until edges are just a little golden brown. Your cookies will look very light and that is exactly what you want so that they don’t end up too crunchy. You want a nice firm cookie with a bit of give in the bite.
Repeat the directions with the second half of the cookie dough. If you can do all of the cookies all at once, go for it.
Next (and optional):
Egg-free, dairy-free royal icing
In a small to medium bowl add:
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 teaspoons water or non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons of honey or light corn syrup (honey seems to give the icing that cream cheese taste to it, but do not use honey for guests with bee allergy)
a few drops of liquid food coloring (be careful to get only the liquid or another food coloring that is allergy safe, the Wilton paste colors are NOT allergy safe)
Stir to a consistency of VERY thick pancake syrup. You don’t want this icing too runny because it will run off of your cookies if it is. You want it to be workable.
Repeat the above in a separate bowl for each color.
Don’t hesitate to add a little more powdered sugar to get the consistency thicker. It does dry out quickly though, so once mixed, pour into zip-lock or decorator bags (before you cut the tiny opening that you’ll need to pipe on the icing).
It’s easier to pour the icing in the bags instead of using a spoon. Also, pouring the icing into the bags will keep it from drying out and gives you a lot more time to work on decorating your cookies.
When your bags are all filled, set them on a large plate and snip the bottom corner or opening to a tiny hole. Since the icing is of a pour-able consistency, you need the small opening to have better control.
As you ice the cookies, be careful to start with an outline that leaves a little room for spreading so that it doesn’t go to the edge of cookie and fall down the sides. Then, make another line or two inside of it (don’t completely fill the outline). As you can see in the picture, the icing will spread into the outline by itself. Use the tip of the bag to push it over the gaps.
Let the cookie icing dry overnight. Can either dry at room temp or uncovered in refrigerator.
If you prefer, you can serve these sooner (after the icing has just set) if you don’t want to wait. You just won’t be able to stack them on top of each other until they are completely dry.
Enjoy!! And save a few for Santa!