Whenever the holidays rolled around in my house, I delighted in the time I got to spend baking cookies and pies with my mom and my grandmother. This is the second holiday season my grandmother is not with us, so I thought it would be fun to make my mom and my grandmother’s favorite holiday cookies this year. Each year we had a standard list of cookies, some recipes traditional, some not so much. My family heritage is a mix bag of German, Italian, Jewish, Greek and Scottish; what my mom likes to refer to as “Heinz 57.” It’s been interesting to watch how those cultures influenced the recipes I grew up making with my mom and grandma, and how now, I’m putting my own spin on them having lived and traveled all around the world.
Let’s get started! I’m so excited to recreate these family recipes into gluten-free holiday gems and share them with you.
Biscotti di Palméri
Biscotti are popular Italian cookies traditionally flavored with almonds and served in coffee houses from Rome to Tuscany and beyond. Now having Celiac Disease, I was faced with remaking this classic recipe that was my mom’s favorite, making it better than before! I’ve made this recipe every year since I was seven years old. Now I’ve recreated this classic into a gluten-free recipe and used the Italian version of my mom’s last name, Palmer, as inspiration for the recipe name.
Cardamom Sugar Cookies
Who doesn’t make sugar cookies during the holidays? They are a standard in most households and can be found delightfully decorated for the holiday seasons! A few years ago I traveled to the Middle East and spent a fair amount of time in Istanbul, Turkey. The Grand Market there is awash with colors, spices, and different sounds. Cardamom became a favorite of mine after this trip and adding it into sugar cookies seemed a natural fit. I tend to like sugar cookies that are similar in taste to short bread, perfect to take to a holiday office party or if you’re throwing an afternoon tea to exchange gifts with your girlfriends! Tip for this recipe – use cold cubed butter! This tip comes straight from Chef Johnny Iuzzini whom I met a few weeks ago and is a world-class pastry chef!
My grandmother loved chocolate. It didn’t matter what form it was in; she just absolutely loved chocolate! Ultimately, she would eat your entire dessert if it was chocolate. So being that we made cookies every holiday season I was determined to find a chocolate cookie recipe that she loved. I managed a small family-owned restaurant a few years back that focused on scratch made desserts. That is where I helped to develop the Missouri Muds recipe and I’ve changed it over the years, adding in more peanut butter and now using gluten-free oats, making it 100% gluten-free. More importantly, my grandmother loved these cookies and I hope you will too!
Mexican Wedding Cookies
I’ve moved to Austin, Texas seven years ago and to say I’ve been exposed to the Mexican food culture is an understatement. Growing up in Southern and Northern California, I grew up on Mexican food! Moving to Austin was comforting, as I knew I would have access to Interior Mexican, Tex-Mex and Mexican-fusion eats. And while I love tacos, desserts are my favorite! Torta de tres leches, fried ice cream – who could resist? But my very favorite are Mexican Wedding Cookies. I learned to make these while spending time with my friend Carmen and her family while making tamales a few months ago. The trick to these powdery gems is not over-baking them. Also using a bourbon vanilla bean paste kicks up the flavor and is perfect for the holiday season!
Biscotti di Palméri
Makes 2 dozen
1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 cup almond flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Madagascar vanilla (use vanilla beans if available)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons anise seeds
3 large eggs
1/2 cup of toasted slivered almonds
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Measure out all dry ingredients and place in a medium mixing bowl. Sift dry ingredients into KitchenAid® Stand Mixer bowl to fully incorporate ingredients. Next add in one egg at a time, mixing on a low to medium speed until the dough comes together. Turn off the KitchenAid® Stand Mixer, remove the mixing bowl, and add in almonds, slowly mixing in by hand with a spatula.
Lightly dust the marble pastry board with all-purpose gluten-free flour, kneading the dough briefly. Cover with a clean tea towel and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Line KitchenAid® Nonstick Sheet Pans with parchment paper and set aside. Divide the dough into two (2) sections. Roll out each section onto the lightly floured surface to form a 2-inch wide, 12-inch long log (if you don’t have a marble pastry board, using a wood cutting board or smooth countertop surface will suffice).
Place the logs on the two separate sheet pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and let cool until you’re able to pick-up the biscotti (approximately 5-10 minutes). Cut the biscotti diagonally into 1/2-inch thick slices, laying them on their sides on the baking sheet and bake for another 5-7 minutes on each side or until golden. Allow to cool on cookie racks.
Want to mix up the flavor profile? Add in fresh grated lemon or orange zest (2 tablespoons). Want a chocolate version? Add in a 1/2 cup of cocoa powder and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips to the recipe (If the batter is too dry, adding in two (2) egg whites and add in 1/2 cup of gluten-free flour. Serve with espresso for a perfect pairing!
Cardamom Sugar Cookies
Makes 2-4 dozen depending on cookie cutters used
3 1/4 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (hold back 1/2 cup for rolling out cookie dough)
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (cold/cubed)
1 cup sugar (I like to use palm sugar for the deep flavor, similar to brown sugar)
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons of Madagascar vanilla and bourbon bean paste (vanilla extract can be used as in lieu of paste)
Cane sugar (for rolling cookies in for decoration)
Preheat oven to 350F. Measure out all dry ingredients and place in a medium mixing bowl. Sift dry ingredients into large mixing bowl to fully incorporate ingredients. Next add butter to KitchenAid® Stand Mixer bowl and on a low speed begin to cream the butter, slowly adding in sugar until light and fluffy. Add in egg and vanilla. Add in sifted flour 1/2 cup at a time until all dry ingredients have been added into the cookie batter.
Using a small cookie scooper, fill scoop and then shape into ball by hand. Then roll cookie in sugar and place on theKitchenAid® Nonstick Sheet Pans. Place pecan in center of cookie, lightly pressing down (place a total of 12 cookies on each baking sheet). Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. If baking a larger cookie using a cookie stamp or cookie cutter, bake 12-15 minutes.
Using Seasonal Cookie Stamps – I love the Nordic Cookie Stamps (available online or at specialty stores). Using a medium to large cookie scoop, fill scoop and them roll dough into a ball. Place cookie on parchment paper and then use cookie stamp, lifting lightly to reveal stamp. Add sugared sprinkles as desired or decorate with royal icing once cooled.
Using Seasonal Cookie Cutters – On a lightly floured surface roll out cookie batter until it’s about 1/8-inch thick (use additional flour as needed). Using cookie cutter, cut out shapes and place on cookie sheet (total of sixteen). Bake at 350ºF for 8-10 minutes. I like to undercook so the center stays chewy. Sprinkle with colored sugar or decorate with royal icing once cooled.
Makes 2 dozen
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups palm sugar
2 tablespoons of cocoa (use a high quality cocoa)
1/2 cup cream (can use regular milk in lieu of cream)
1/2 cup peanut butter (I like using chunky peanut butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla (I like to use Madagascar vanilla)
3 cups of gluten-free oats
Melt butter in a medium size sauce pan, adding in sugar, cocoa, and cream, constantly stirring. Bring to a boil for one minute, adding in peanut butter, vanilla and oats, stirring until all ingredients are completely incorporated. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes.
Prepare two (2) KitchenAid® Nonstick Sheet Pans with wax paper and once mixture cooled and has set-up, take a large spoon or large cookie scoop, drop onto cookie sheet. Refrigerate for approximately 1-2 hours. I’ve made these for various parties throughout the year, but always get requests for them during the holiday and they’re just so easy to make. I hope you enjoy them as much as my grandma did! And who doesn’t love chocolate and peanut butter?
Mexican Wedding Cookies
Makes 2 dozen
1 stick unsalted butter
1 stick salted butter
1 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons of Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean paste
1 3/4 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
2 cups pecans (whole)
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Measure out all of your ingredients in advance. Sift confectioners sugar and gluten-free flour and set aside. Cut cold butter into cubs, placing in KitchenAid® Stand Mixer bowl. Measure out 1/2 cup of sifted confectioners sugar and add into butter. Turn KitchenAid® Stand Mixer on low to cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. With mixer on low, add in gluten-free flour 1/2 cup at a time, allowing the flour to be mixed in completely until all flour has been added to mixture.
Using a small cookie scoop, roll into ball shape by hand. Place cookies 2 inches apart (12 to a sheet). Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to turn golden brown. Remember key to these cookies is to not over bake so watch them carefully. Remove from baking sheet and gently place on cooling rack. Allow to cool for 15 minutes or until cool to the touch. Gently roll each cookie in confectioners sugar. Stack for a beautiful display for your holiday dinner with family or share with your offices mates. I promise you’ll be their new favorite!
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*