Last minute gluten-free Christmas tips

I am at that point in the holidays when I don’t ever want to be in a grocery store, department store, discount store or mall ever again.

At this point what I need most, I think, is the liquor store!

I jest.

Instead I am spending a lot of time in my kitchen making the holiday cookies that matter to me even though my family is scratching their heads over why we need so many different kinds.

A few years ago I started making almost exclusively gluten-free cookies. It saves me from having to keep my gluten-free daughter’s cookies meticulously separated from cookies made with wheat flour.

In the early years, I made two versions of everything. My recipe cards still have notations on how to divide out a portion of the wet ingredients to mix with gluten-free flours.

But gluten-free flour mixes and recipes have improved so dramatically that I find the gluten-free cookies I make are fine for everyone.
I thought I would share some of the things I am doing this year, in case you are searching about for some ideas as the minutes count down to Christmas.

Birds’ Nests

My family likes these treats made with a simple combination of one cup of  melted chocolate chips, one cup of melted peanut butter chips, one cup of potato sticks and one cup of peanuts mixed all together and dropped by a teaspoon onto wax paper laid on cookies sheets. Then just leave them to harden. The original recipe called for butterscotch chips, but I had trouble finding a brand that did not contain gluten from barley malt so I just switched to peanut butter chips.

This recipe couldn’t be easier.

Peppermint Sticks

I found this recipe in an old magazine and thought it looked very pretty. Essentially, you dip the tips of old fashioned Peppermint Sticks in a chocolate mix made by combining four squares (1 oz) of bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate with 1 tablespoon of shortening in a saucepan and heating until melted. Dip one end of the stick into the chocolate, then dip that into chopped nuts or sprinkles.  Lay on wax paper until the chocolate hardens.

Peanut Blossoms

Aside from cut-out sugar cookies, these have to be one of the most popular holiday favorites. I always made two versions of this recipe until I realized that if you use a basic cookie recipe that calls for one cup of peanut butter, one cup of sugar and two eggs you will have a cookie that pleases everyone. After I mix the above ingredients I put the mixture in the refrigerator so it hardens up a little. Then I roll 1 inch balls, quickly roll them in granulated sugar and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. While the cookies are still warm and on the cookie sheets, I press one unwrapped Hershey Kiss onto each cookie. Unwrapping the kisses is a great job for a child, teenager or spouse who is otherwise not much into holiday baking.

This year I also added some cookies from General Mills “live gluten freely” website. I tried the grasshopper bars and the Russian tea cakes, which are interestingly made with the gluten-free Bisquick mix. Both were easy to make and handled well. (One reviewer who made the tea cakes said they fell apart when she tried to roll them in powdered sugar. I did not have this problem, but I waited until the cookies were just slightly warm before picking them up. I also handled them very gingerly). I still don’t know if these cookies pass the taste test since I quickly packaged them up and put them away for the holidays. I will let you know if they get raves or boos from my family. You will also find a Peanut Blossom recipe on this site, but I am happy with my easy and relatively inexpensive version.

I hope these suggestions come in handy as you try to get everything done by Christmas Day.

Happy Holidays!

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