Healthy Holiday Baking

Peppermint Bark: Gluten-Free
Almond Butter Cookies: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, (can be Vegan) Short Bread Cookies: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, (can be Vegan)
Raw Coco Rum Balls: Gluten-Free, Vegan
Ginger Bread: Gluten-Free, Vegan

Peppermint Bark – Gluten-Free

There are several versions of this one on-line, I had to include it because I love it. Only real substitution I do is to use coconut cream rather than dairy, understanding there is milk powder in white chocolate, I still try to avoid it as much as possible.

Baking sheet flipped over and covered with foil or parchment paper
Two pots or double broiler
30    Peppermint Candy Canes, crushed, divided
20    ounces White Callebaut Chocolate, coarsely chopped, divided
10    ounces Dark Callebaut Chocolate, coarsely chopped
6       tablespoons Coconut Cream (unshaken can of thick coconut milk)
1        teaspoon Peppermint Extract

Melt half of the white chocolate in the top of a double boiler over just barely simmering water, stir frequently and scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula. Careful not to burn!

Spread evenly into the prepared pan then sprinkle 1/4 of the crushed peppermints evenly over top. Place in fridge or freezer till hardened.

Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate, coconut cream, and peppermint extract the same way.

Working quickly from one end to the other pour dark chocolate on top of the hardened white and spread it evenly. Sprinkle another 1/4 of the crushed candy cane. Return to chill until very firm.

Last, melt the remaining white chocolate then spread quickly over the chilled bark. Sprinkle with the remaining peppermint pieces; chill until firm.

Cut or break into small pieces and keep chilled until serving.

Almond Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies – GF, DF, (can be Vegan)

Oven 350 degrees
Heavy bottomed baking sheet
Medium bowl
1        cup unsalted Almond Butter (works well with smooth or crunchy)
1/2   cup Sucanat Sugar, ground to a fine powder
1        large Egg (or egg replacer)
1/2   tsp Baking Soda
1/2   tsp Sea Salt
1        heaping handful of Dark Chocolate Chunks or Chocolate Covered Almonds*

Combine all ingredients, except the chocolate, in a medium bowl and mix well. Then, fold in chocolate chunks.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack and allow to cool.

* for my Christmas baking I pressed one single chocolate covered almond into each cookies before baking

Short Bread Cookies – Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, (can be Vegan)

Okay my gluten-free friends, here it is: crumbly, moist, buttery, sweet short bread! These are awesome eaten cold out of the fridge or freezer. If you want to try something different I have included a recipe for maple butter to top with.  These are also great with a cranberry pressed on top or try adding different flavours like almond, peppermint, lemon or cinnamon.

Oven 325 degrees
Large bowl:
1       cup Goat Butter, softened
2       tablespoon Organic Dark Brown Sugar
1       teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1        large Egg White (or equivalent egg replacer)
Small bowl:
1        cup Sweet Rice Flour
1/2   cup Organic Cane Sugar, ground to a fine powder
2/3   cup Tapioca Starch
1/3   cup Arrowroot Powder
1/2   teaspoon Xanthan Gum

Combine dry and sift well. Combine wet and mix with a hand blender until nice and creamy. Add dry ingredients to the wet, a little at a time and blend until it is well combined and creamy looking.

Just like traditional short bread, you can roll this dough out and cut out shapes or roll into balls and flatten a bit.  Have fun!

These are also nice with a little sprinkle of turbinado sugar or lemon peel before baking.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden.  Allow to cool completely.

Maple Butter
Small sauce pan
2/3    cup Dark Maple Syrup
1         cup Goat Butter (room temperature).

In small saucepan, bring maple syrup to a boil and reduce by half, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand at room temperature. When cool, add the butter and stir until completely blended.

Place in refrigerator until firm if you’re not using it right away.

Raw Cocoa Rum Balls – Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan

Growing up around the holidays I remember my mom’s amazing rum balls being in the freezer, she always made on-boozy ones for us kids but we definitely got into the rum version once or twice. I am so thrilled to have perfected a raw and healthy version, there is only 4 ounces of Rum in about two dozen balls but if you want to go totally healthy, feel free to omit I offer lots of options to boost the flavour.

1       cup fine shred Coconut Flakes
2       tablespoons Rolled Oats
2/3  cup raw Almonds
1/8   teaspoon fine Sea Salt
1        teaspoon Coconut Oil, room temp
1-2    tablespoons Agave or Maple Syrup
4        tablespoons Dark Rum (alcohol-free: sub a few more tablespoons of agave)
1        tablespoon of Cocoa Powder
3        tablespoons Raw Organic Sugar, ground fine

Cocoa Powder, Fine-Shred Coconut Flakes or Melted Vegan Chocolate for Rolling.

Grind almonds to a coarse powder, add oats and 1/2 cup coconut flakes and grind well.

Combine ground mixture, rum, oil, sea salt, agave, cocoa powder and mix well.

Grind the raw sugar to a fine powder and add to the bowl, mix again.

Mix adding the other 1/2 cup of coconut flakes till you get a soft dough. Taste and adjust sweetness by adding more powdered sugar or agave.

Chill for half an hour.

Form balls and roll in cocoa powder, coconut flakes or cover in melted (vegan) chocolate!

Add whatever you want to this recipe, chocolate chips or pistachios in the middle would be nice or substitute the booze and cocoa powder and add in an essence or extract like rose, vanilla, or a pinch of cardamom. Yummm!

Gingerbread Cookies – Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan

Oven 350 degrees
Two baking sheets lined with parchment paper
Large bowl:
1 1/4    cups Tapioca Starch
3/4       cup Teff Flour
1/2        cup Coconut Flour
1/4        cup Millet Flour
1/4        cup Sweet Rice Flour
1/4        cup Almond Flour
1             teaspoon Baking Soda
1             teaspoon Sea Salt
1 ½       teaspoon Agar Agar Powder
1/3       cup Organic Dark Brown Sugar or Sucanat
2            teaspoon ground Ginger
2            teaspoon Cinnamon
1            teaspoon ground Cloves
1            teaspoon Cocoa Powder
1/4       teaspoon Nutmeg
2            grates Black Pepper
Cut in:
1/2       cup cold Vegan Shortening or Virgin Coconut Oil
Large bowl:
2            teaspoon Vanilla Extract
½         cup Dark Maple Syrup
1/3       cup Fancy Molasses
1/3      cup Cooking Molasses

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and sift.

Cut in shortening with a fork or pastry cutter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Combine wet and then stir into the dry. Chill dough for at least 10 minutes in the fridge.

Take out a handful at a time and roll on wax paper dusted with tapioca starch to approximately 1/8 inch thickness and cut out shapes.

This dough is quite sticky, you will need to keep it cold and dust it often to be able to roll out and cut shapes. Have patience; even with lots of starch dusting and re-rolling they will turn out. Also, these cookies will puff up, if a moister cookie is what you prefer roll out thicker and bake a little less, if a crispy cookie is what you’re after go thin and bake longer.

Bake time is about 8-12 minutes. The cookies will be quite soft even when cooked and will harden while cooling. I suggest letting them cool for 15 minutes on the baking sheet then at least an hour on a rack.

Makes 2-4 dozen, work in batches with two baking sheets.

Happy Holidays!!

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