Holiday Treats

Some of my all-time favorite memories from my childhood are the times I spent baking with my mom throughout the holidays. I would jump in the kitchen and pester her to let me help do just about any of it. After I grew up and was out on my own, we would go to each other’s houses each year, making more memories that I now share with my own children.

Ever since becoming more involved in GF/CG cooking, the question I’ve been asked most often is:  Why is baking GF/CF so difficult?  While gathering ingredients can be time consuming if you’re just starting out, we’re going to make things a bit easier for you with some of our favorite baked holiday treats—sure to be a hit with everyone in your family and on your guest list.

So, bakers:  start your ovens, clear off the counter (and make sure it’s clean enough to prevent cross-contamination), get your rolling pins out, throw your aprons on and let’s get our holiday bake on!

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

Makes 48 cookies

2 C fine brown rice flour
2/3 C arrowroot starch or cornstarch
¼ C tapioca starch
1 ¾ C confectioner’s sugar
½ tsp. guar gum
1 tsp. GF baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 C COLD GF/CF cubed butter (2 sticks)
1 large egg

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F
  2. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking pads.
  3. Sift ALL dry ingredients and combine in a mixing bowl and thoroughly to blend.
  4. Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Place the cover on the processor and pulse about 3 times.
  5. Add the cubed, cold butter and pulse about 10 times. The mixture will be crumbly.
  6. Add the egg, pulse about 5 times. The mixture will look crumbly but should form a ball when squeezed together.
  7. If the mixture is too dry to form a ball, add 1 tbsp. GFCF milk and pulse about 5 times.
  8. Scrape the dough onto a large sheet of waxed paper and squeeze the dough into a ball.
  9. Use hands to shape the ball into a long cylinder, about 2 inches in diameter.
  10.  Wrap the sheet of waxed paper around the cookie dough “log” and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour or freeze the dough to use later.
  11.  When you are ready to bake the cookies, remove from refrigerator or freezer. Slice in 1/4-inch rounds and roll each section into a ball. Place 12 balls on each prepared baking sheet.
  12.  Dip a glass in fine sugar and press each ball of dough into a flat circle.
  13.  Alternatively, cut chilled dough rolls into 1/4″ slices and bake. This method makes a slightly thicker cookie.
  14.  Optional- Sprinkle with gluten free colored sugars.
  15.  Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until light golden brown around the edges.

Each cookie contains   83 calories, 4g total fat, 2g saturated fat, g trans fat, 4mg cholesterol, 69mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 1g protein

Chocolate Gingerbread

Makes 8 servings

1 C brown rice flour or sorghum flour
¾ C almond meal
½ C cornstarch or potato starch (not potato flour)
1 C light brown sugar
1/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. GF baking powder
¾ tsp. GF baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¾  tsp. fine sea salt
½  tsp. nutmeg
2 large eggs, beaten
½  C molasses
¼ C coconut oil
4 T coconut, almond or soy
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
2. Line a 9-inch ceramic loaf pan with parchment paper to rise up the long sides of the pan.

3.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients- brown rice flour through nutmeg.
4. Add in eggs, molasses, coconut oil, vanilla extract and beat well, until the batter is smooth. (A standing mixer will
handle this best.)
5.  Scoop gingerbread batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in the center of the oven for roughly an hour.  (The
top will crack a bit. A cake tester inserted into the center should emerge clean.)

6.  Allow the loaf to cool in the pan until cooled enough to handle. Gently remove it from the pan, and continue to
cool on a wire rack.

Each serving contains   435 calories, 16 total fat, 8g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 53mg cholesterol, 455mg sodium, 71g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 6g protein

Fruit Scones

Makes 8 servings

2 C GF flour mix (see recipe below)
¾ C sugar
2 ½ tsp.GF baking powder (baking soda with tarter)
¾ tsp. xanthum gum
½ tsp. salt
½  C (1 stick) cold GFCF butter
1 C diced dried apricots, raisins, or cherries
3 large eggs
1/3 C cold almond, coconut, or rice milk (add small amounts if mixture seems dry and flakey)
1 ¼ tsp. gluten free vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a divided scone pan, or grease (or line with parchment) a baking sheet.
2. Whisk together the flour or flour blend, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and nutmeg.
3. Work in the cold butter till the mixture is crumbly.
4. Stir in the dried fruit.
5. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla till frothy.
6. Add to the dry ingredients, stirring till well blended. The dough should be cohesive and very sticky.
7. Drop dough by the 1/3-cupful into the scone pan or onto the baking sheet. Let the scones rest for 15 minutes. With
a brush, give the tops a milk wash.
8. Sprinkle the scones with sparkling sugar or cinnamon sugar, if desired. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, till golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes or so before serving. Best enjoyed warm, with butter and jam.

Each serving contains 379 calories, 12g total fat, 9g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 79mg cholesterol, 305mg sodium, 65 carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 6g protein

Pecan Pie

Makes 6 servings

1 C light Karo syrup
3 whole eggs plus 1 yolk, beaten
½  C light brown sugar
1/2 C white sugar
2 T melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. almond extract
1 ½  C pecans
1 9-inch unbaked gluten-free pie crust (There are several GF/CF pie crust mixes you can buy, but if you’d prefer to make your own, visit our website:

TIP: partially pre-bake crust

1. Combine all of the ingredients except for the pecans. Mix well.
2. Arrange the pecans on the bottom of the partially baked piecrust, SLOWLY pour the filling over them. The pecans
will float to the top.
3. In a preheated 350 degrees oven, bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until the filling has set. Allow pie to cool on a rack
for at least two hours before serving.

Each serving contains  842 calories, 42g total fat, 15g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 191mg cholesterol, 474mg sodium, 113g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 8g protein

Pumpkin Upside-Down Cake with Caramelized Cranberries*

Makes one 9-inch cake or 10 standard muffins


For Smear:

2 ¼ oz. Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, Soy-Free
2 oz. light brown sugar

For pumpkin cake:

2 eggs
1 C pumpkin puree
½ C light agave nectar
2 T canola oil
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 C gluten-free flour blend
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼  tsp table salt
1 ½ C cranberries, frozen or fresh

  1. Grease one 9-inch cake pan with Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, Soy-Free; line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the Earth Balance over medium heat.  Add the brown sugar and whisk until smooth and mixture emulsifies.  The mixture will look broken and separated before it emulsifies.  Pour the brown sugar mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. When the brown sugar mixture has cooled, arrange the cranberries in a single layer covering the bottom of the pan.  Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs; add the pumpkin puree, agave nectar, canola oil, and vanilla extract; whisk until smooth.  Set aside.
  5. In another bowl, sift together the gluten-free flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Whisk to combine.
  6. Fold the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture using a rubber spatula.  Carefully spread the batter over the cranberry topping.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F. for approximately 35—40 minutes.  Let cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack.  Place a cake board on top of the cake.  Invert the cake with the cake board.  Carefully peel off the parchment paper.  Let cool completely before serving.

For standard muffins:  Place 2 tsp. of smear into each greased standard muffin cavity.  This smear yields enough for 10 muffins.  When cool and you are ready to fill with pumpkin batter, place approximately 7 large cranberries in each.  Portion a #16 scoop of batter into each cavity.  Bake at 375 degrees F.  for approximately 20—25 minutes.

Each serving contains 257 calories, 9g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 42mg cholesterol, 263mg sodium, 42g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g protein

*Recipe courtesy of Chef Joel J. Schaefer from his book Serving People with Food Allergies:  Kitchen Management and Menu Creation. (CRC Press)


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