Few things are more comforting in life than the smell of freshly baked cookies (fresh baked bread and ground coffee are up there too). It’s home, it’s childhood memories and a great big hug all wrapped into one.
‘Free From’ cookies don’t have to be tasteless, dry or gritty and just because you have to avoid gluten and dairy, doesn’t mean you can’t experience that same home-baked, fresh cookie experience.
The ideal mix of crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle, this cookie recipe is gluten, dairy and egg free, but is so tasty, I’d put money on no one telling the difference, or even caring for that matter.
This recipe includes chopped pecans, but if you want to make it nut free, just change this part of the recipe for something else, such as raisins or chocolate chips. The combinations are endless, really. You can take out the cinnamon and add ginger, substitute the vanilla for almond essence or for a citrus flavour, add orange or lemon juice.
These are so easy to make, my 10 year old made a batch all on her own. She used dark chocolate chips, instead of nuts or raisins and kept the cinnamon. It was a lovely combination.
My second make ahead Christmas recipe this week is for cranberry, orange and chestnut stuffing balls. If you didn’t catch yesterday’s recipe for Duchess sweet potatoes, you can find it here.
Made with gluten free sausage meat and the crumbed crusts from one of my gluten free loaves, this stuffing recipe is also suitable for those following a dairy free diet.
I decided to make these as stuffing balls, to serve as an alternative to the pigs in blankets I usually offer. You can, of course, use this recipe to stuff the cavity of the turkey, or bake it in an oven proof dish. The citrus burst of the orange zest, complements the sweetness of the cranberries and apples, with just a hint of the nutty chestnuts coming through. I think you could eat these on their own, they’re that good. Cooked as I did, they are the equivalent of meatballs and could quite easily go alongside some salad and other leftovers from your Christmas lunch.
The next recipe I’ll be sharing is for Christmas spiced name place cookies.
Make ahead Christmas recipes - Cranberry, orange and chestnut stuffing
Gluten and dairy free stuffing with full fruit flavours to give an ideal accompaniment to your Christmas meal
It’s the countdown to Christmas and time to start prepping for the big day. One way to get organised and give yourself less to worry about, is to make ahead as much as possible. This week, I’m excited to be sharing with you some Christmas recipes you can make in advance, so on the day itself you can wow your guests with your creative handiwork. All the recipes are gluten, dairy and nightshade free.
First up today is a recipe I’m resurrecting from the 1980’s – Duchess potatoes.
These were a childhood favourite of mine and something we only ever had on Christmas day, so it was always something to look forward to. I remember mum making them in advance and freezing them, so all she needed to do was defrost and warm through on the day. Mum always made them with white potatoes to go alongside the roasties, but as I don’t eat white potatoes, I thought I’d try something different and make them with sweet potatoes instead.
It does take a little preparation to make these, but don’t be put off. My piping skills are non-existent, but I managed to produce something that looks as though I actually knew what I was doing. They are a show-stopping side dish that will add that something extra to your Christmas meal and the colour of these is just so vibrant and gorgeous, they are going to look amazing alongside the purple of the red cabbage and the bright green of the sprouts.
Tomorrow I will be making stuffing balls, with cranberry, orange and chestnuts.
Duchess Sweet Potatoes
A nightshade free alternative to the classic 80's side dish, Duchess Potatoes
Try these gluten and dairy free pecan cookies for a tasty after school treat
Now the kids are back at school, I find myself thinking once more about packed lunches and afternoon snacks. Sunday is the day for preparation in our house and that usually involves turning my kitchen into a mini bakery. I make at least two or three different things, thinking that will see us through the week.
Of course by Tuesday or Wednesday there’s nothing left, something that’s inevitable when you offer up home baking to a family of five. My gluten and dairy free treats go down well with everyone, not just my intolerant son and these cookies are no exception.
When I made these pecan cookies for the first time last week, they went down such a storm, I ended up making two batches. They really were very easy to make though, taking just 10 minutes to prepare and 12 minutes to bake.
I like to experiment with different gluten free flours and I highly encourage you to give it a try. The difference in taste you get compared to the shop-bought blends is staggering. Not that I’m criticising commercial gluten free flour blends, it’s just that they tend to use rice flour and I’m not a fan. I don’t like the grittiness you get and I personally believe there are much tastier gluten free flours out there.
This recipe uses a combination of sorghum flour (my favourite gluten free flour) and chestnut flour, which I thought I would try out. I’ve used chestnut flour before in a gnocchi recipe and found it worked well. I thought the nuttiness of the chestnuts would complement the pecans in this recipe. I’ve also used tapioca flour, which is my starch of choice. Whenever you blend gluten free flours, the recipe works much better if you combine the flour with a starch. You’re aiming to recreate the gluten effect and starch can help with that. You can find out more about baking gluten free from a previous post I wrote.
If you’re worried about buying a new flour, using it once and wasting the rest, don’t be. If my experience is anything to go by, these cookies will become a family staple and before you know it, you’ll have used up the whole bag!