The holidays can be a tough time for those who are gluten-free because a lot of extra holiday treats show up that are not always available gluten-free. It seems like I keep gaining more and more friends who are gluten-free or have some other dietary restriction, and I love finding gluten-free recipes that I can make for them.
The process has taught me a lot. For example, when I was trying to figure out a way to make my chocolate chip cookies gluten-free, I substituted oat flour for wheat flour. (I included that recipe in this post a few months ago, along with another muffin recipe you can easily make gluten-free.)
The cookies ended up spreading so much in the pan that they became paper-thin. I did some research after this and realized it was because oat flour does not contain a binding agent to replace the gluten. Most gluten-free flour has a binding agent added in, such as Xanthan gum. Flax seed can also be a binding agent. You can grind it in a coffee grinder (or you can buy it already ground), mix with a little warm water, and add to your batter. I tried this with my cookies with the oat flour and they came out much better. It did change the texture a bit, but the oat flour gave them a nice nutty flavor, and it is the best substitution I have found yet.
That being said, here are some gluten-free recipes you can make for the holidays. The first one, the banana bread, is not a holiday recipe specifically. But I have made it for the holidays before, and it is the best-tasting banana bread I have ever made.
Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Paleo Banana Bread
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 Tbl melted coconut oil
2 med-large ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 and prepare a 9×5 loaf pan. In medium bowl, whisk together baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flours. In a separate small bowl, mix together coconut oil, eggs, bananas, maple syrup, and vanilla until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix together until combined. Do not overmix. Bake 20-25 minutes.
My next recipe is one my grandpa honed many years ago when he began searching for the perfect fudge recipe. This recipe is very sweet, but when it is done well, it has an amazing texture and it is delicious. It can be hard to get it exactly right. If it is overcooked a little, it will still taste good, but the texture will be more brittle.
Famous Fox Fudge
3 cups sugar
3-4 Tbl cocoa
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Directions: Combine dry ingredients in heavy 4-quart saucepan, then add milk and butter. Bring to boil, turn down and stir until temperature on candy thermometer reaches 225-235. When you think it is close, drop a little sample in a glass of ice water and if it immediately becomes a ball, it is done. Remove from heat, add vanilla. Beat until thick (this usually takes a while). Pour out quickly. Allow to set up a few minutes, then slice before it cools.
My last recipe is a New Mexican classic (and our state cookie)– biscochitos. For those new or unfamiliar with these, they are a lard (or butter) based cookie, flavored with cinnamon and anise. You can read more about the history of the biscochito here. This recipe is good with wheat flour, but it can also be pretty good with a gluten-free rice flour substitute. You can find this flour at most stores now, but I usually get mine at Wal-Mart. You can also get it on Amazon. This is the kind I usually get.
2 cups lard
2 cups sugar
1 tsp anise (liquid)
5 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
cinnamon-sugar to coat
Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients. Roll out thick, then cut shapes, and bake until golden-brown (about 10 minutes). Before cookies have cooled, roll them in cinnamon sugar to coat.
Enjoy these gluten-free recipes! Happy holidays, and happy baking!
Originally published December 2017.