As the thick cloud of flour and sugar finally cleared from my kitchen, I decided it was high time I shared with you all of my holiday baking projects. And it’s about time, really, given we’re midway through January and everyone has pretty much forgotten about the sugar rush of Christmas cookies.
However, I personally haven’t forgotten the joy that comes from baking batches and batches of butter-filled treats for several hours, so here we are!
So let’s get to the cookies and I’ll meet you in the baking aisle. I’ll be the one hoarding GF flour and three kinds of butter. 😉
Sesame-Sea Salt Cookies
Source: Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan
Make it GF: The only substitute necessary is to use gluten free flour. For all baking I use Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour. I find that it’s basically perfect when used at a 1:1 ratio (use the exact amount of GF flour that you’d use of regular flour).
It’s a Party: These cookies were a dream! Mildly time consuming due to their small size and necessary chilling of the dough in between batches, but the outcome is well worth the effort!
This cookie is from the “cocktail cookies” chapter and my entire family is hooked! These are buttery, savory cookies that go so well with a glass of bubbly or your favorite red/white wine. Or a cocktail! The sprinkle of sesame seeds on top is a fun decoration and gives one more dimension of flavor to this anything-but-boring treat.
The dough is a mix of GF flour and almond flour so the cookies are slightly richer and more filling than a regular cookie. But since they’re very small and thin you’ll probably enjoy a handful of them before (possibly) noticing! 😏
These cookies are a wonderful party appetizer or snack, and I think they’d be fun to serve with dessert as well. Sometimes a savory treat is just as delicious as a sweet one. Out of everything I’ve been baking recently, I received multiple requests to make these again (and again). And that is one of my favorite requests of all! :)
Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread
Make it GF: Once again, just use GF flour (Cup4Cup) in place of regular all-purpose flour. I didn’t change anything else in the recipe. Well, I added extra chocolate. 😉
It’s a Party: It’s no secret that these, “The Cookies,” have swept the Internet and seem to be one of the most popular cookie recipes in recent memory. But why?! I’m not entirely sure except that they are freaking delicious. Like absurdly yummy, eat-four-in-a-row-and-save-another-for-later level good.
And yes, I have made these before and shared them with you here on the blog, but I couldn’t resist baking them again for a holiday potluck we went to shortly before Christmas. And guess what? They were a big hit! Again!
Maybe it’s the salted butter, maybe it’s the extra chocolate or the crispy sugar-coated edges, but whatever it is, people love these cookies. And I love that they’re easy to make - mostly.
I run into trouble each time I have to roll the dough into a log to chill before baking. My clay skills were horrendous as a child so I’m barely surprised my cookie-log-creation isn’t awesome either. Thankfully, I’ve baked them so many times that it’s finally getting a little better, but just a little. The odd shapes add character, right? 🤷♀️
Also, I think it’s important to note that these cookies, due to the GF flour (maybe?) spread out more during baking than anticipated. It doesn’t affect their flavor whatsoever, they’re still amazing, but they do spread out a decent amount so they’re not quite as thick as the dough slices you put in the oven. I’m still working on fixing this issue so if I come across a solution I’ll be sure to let you know! :)
Overall, these are excellent cookies to bring to a party, to serve at a party, or just bake them for yourself, your friends, or anyone you know who will appreciate a seriously delicious cookie, which is basically everyone. Right? 😋
And don’t forget the flaky sea salt on top!
Olive Oil Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate and Rosemary
Make it GF: Just be sure to use gluten free flour! Like a broken record, I recommend Cup4Cup. I think I added extra chocolate to this one, too. ☺️
It’s a Party: Another foray into the world of small, low, non-frosted cake! And this one was simply splendid! I picked it based on title alone and baked it for a different holiday party we attended before Christmas. I figured the ingredients sounded delicious and who wouldn’t want a sweet slice of light cake for dessert?
These photos were taken before I sliced it since I couldn’t take my camera with me to the party (I tried to use my iPhone but was too busy serving it!). Let’s just use our imaginations and assume the slice-of-cake photos were appetizing as well. 😉
For a cake that had a lot of chocolate and rosemary, I do think the rosemary flavor came out more strongly which was a slight surprise. Everyone who had a slice (or two) loved it, but a few noted that the rosemary flavor was definitely (more) present. I may tone it down next time... but we shall see!
A couple baking notes: gluten free baked goods often bake for longer than their non-GF counterparts. Be sure to watch the clock because something can go from perfectly done to oops-it’s-burnt very quickly. Also, I suppose you could omit the rosemary if it’s not your thing, but then you’d just have an olive oil cake with chocolate. Wait, that would be delicious too...
The joy of an olive oil cake is that it stays so moist! The texture of this cake was terrific and even though it was gone in a day, I think it would have still been delicious on day two or three. But let me warn you, it probably won’t last that long!
What I loved about this cake, aside from it being a crowd-pleaser and easy-to-bake, was that it could be served morning or night. I’d easily serve this at a grand brunch, a festive lunch, or a small dinner party where I would offer to let guests take a slice home for breakfast. Yes, I do think this cake would be as delicious before noon as it was after eight in the evening. Now that’s a cake for every occasion. 😎
Smoky, Cheesy Cookies
Source: Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan
Make it GF: Simple reminder to use GF flour for all cookies in this review. Well, always use GF flour, I do! No other changes necessary for the ingredients.
It’s a Party: Look what we have here! It’s a delicious, cheesy, slightly spicy, homemade version of a “Cheez-It” and it’s fabulous! My goodness, I am glad I picked these out of the “cocktail cookies” chapter at the last-minute because they were also a winner. My family loved them and they’re most certainly a cookie (cracker-ish?) I’ll make again and again.
Conveniently, the dough process and baking plan for these was essentially the same as the sesame ones above which was helpful, but also meant they would be time consuming.
Small cookies made with cookie cutters that also need to chill before baking take a considerable amount of time. But the end result is so, so worth it. Forget about the time and enjoy the process! You’ll also end up with dozens and dozens of delicious cookies.
Quick baking note: pending the thickness of your cookies before baking, the time in the oven will vary. Mine were a fair amount thinner than the recipe suggested (same for the sesame ones) so I had to cut the bake time down. I’m pretty sure the final time was around 12 minutes (rotating the baking sheet halfway through). Keep an eye on them! A burnt cheesy cookie won’t be as spectacular as you hope.
The delicious factor of these cookies comes in the form of blending smoked gouda, cheddar, and cayenne pepper into the dough. Such a wonderful mix! Beware: if you don’t want much spice, go easy on the cayenne, but if you’re in the mood for a surprising bite, add extra! I made these with extra cayenne which got mixed reviews: the spice lovers rejoiced, others asked for less of it on the next batch. My opinion? I’ll make the next ones half and half to please the crowd. ;)
These cheesy cookies were perfect during appetizers at a party and paired well, again, with wine and cocktails. I’d say they make a great snack too because a homemade version of a Cheez-It will be appealing to literally everyone. You may want to skip the spicy cayenne if offering them to kids.
I cannot wait to bake these cheesy wonders again soon because they’re quick to prepare (the dough is quick, the rest is slower) and are pretty flexible: the author suggested using gruyere cheese in place of the smoked gouda as a twist on the original recipe which I think sounds divine.
Gruyere is delicious as a free sample at the grocery store (and melted in mac+cheese) so I can only imagine how awesome it would be in these cookies. 😉
Double Pecan Thumbprints
Source: Bon Appétit online; grab the recipe, here! It’s also available in the December 2018 issue.
Make it GF: As usual, I used gluten free flour for these cookies. For the pecans, which are used in the dough and frangipane filling, I made sure to buy pecans which are safely gluten free.
It’s difficult to find nuts that are not processed in the same facility as products containing wheat so be careful and use your best judgement. Don’t simply grab a package of pecans and call it a day. Read the label!
It’s a Party: The most “holiday ready” cookie of the bunch! Sure, all of these cookies are great any time of the year, but this one in particular seemed especially festive and perfect for the season. And let me tell you, they did not disappoint!
There are a decent number of steps involved in making the cookies including toasting pecans, making frangipane, making dough, chilling dough, baking cookies briefly, filling with frangipane, and then baking them once again. And finally, don’t forget the crucial last step of dusting your beautiful cookies with powdered sugar: the “sprinkle of snow” that each one deserves, especially as a holiday treat!
Yes, that’s a lot of steps. However, I baked these twice during the season and I admit it gets easier. While there are many steps, no one step in particular is very difficult which makes the whole process that much more enjoyable. Would you agree?
These cookies were described as a “pecan pie in cookie form” and I must agree. Not quite as sweet (to me) as a slice of that awesome pie, but the combination of the delectable dough (that includes crushed pecans) as well as the gooey frangipane (with pecans) results in a flavor that’s both reminiscent of pecan pie (my favorite!) and of something entirely new and just as fantastic. Best of both worlds.
My only issue with the baking process was that the cookies spread a bit more in the oven than I’d like; I bet it’s due to the GF flour.
The taste was scrumptious, but I was frustrated that they were flatter and more disc-shaped (not small and thick) than I wanted them to be. Did anyone notice? Nope. Did anyone complain? Nope. But I’d like to make them again to try and fix the shape. I’m convinced it can be done!
The Double Pecan Thumbprint is a delectable cookie for the holidays, a birthday party, a potluck, or a generous homemade gift! And honestly, I had a couple for breakfast and they were amazing with coffee. Cookies like these shouldn’t be saved for just special occasions or holidays; they’re an excellent sweet for any time of year and any reason to celebrate.
Classic Sugar Cookies with Homemade Buttercream Frosting
Source: The Cookie Book by Rebecca Firth
Make it GF: The only substitution necessary is to use gluten free flour (Cup4Cup)! For decorating, make sure that the sprinkles purchased are labeled gluten free. Specific brands (I use India Tree) are safe, but always double-check!
It’s a Party: A repeat by request! I had made these for Thanksgiving and they were such a hit that my grandfather requested them specifically as his holiday gift! ☺️ Of course, the recipe makes several dozen so I gifted him a bunch and shared the rest. However, I don’t think he would have minded the entire batch!
As with all cookies I shared with you in this piece that require a cookie cutter, this one takes time as well. Not only does the dough need to chill before being used, but it needs to come up to room-ish temperature before cutting out the cookie shapes and baking them. Then you have to let them cool completely before adding the frosting and decorations. The sprinkles add pizzazz. ;)
No surprises here, but beware that making these sugar cookies with frosting is more of a project than a quick fix for a sweet tooth.
The best part of the cookies, besides their subdued taste, is that you can make them any shape your heart desires! I opted for a classic circle this time around, but next I may go for a square. 😮 Wow. I know. So crazy.
On a buttery note, making buttercream frosting is actually easier than I expected and the hard part is not eating it all while you’re frosting the cookies. 😋 I left the buttercream plain white for this batch, but I may include a dash of food coloring next time for a fun hue to the final look.
Sprinkles! I used semi-shimmery sanding sugar on these, in the random choice of red and blue, but you could definitely make them seasonally appropriate depending on the occasion.
Now that I think of it, I may do a pale pink version for Valentine’s Day. How sweet! But don’t worry, not too sweet: these cookies are joyfully plain with the buttercream frosting being the sweetest element which, in my opinion, is a fantastic balance and will always have me going back for another.
Sugar cookies aren’t always the most popular choice, but I dare to suggest they are the most versatile cookie that can please everyone. And that fact, in and of itself, is the best reason of all to bake. 🙂
So that’s it, my friends! I baked all of these cookies (approximately 162 total and the cake) in less than eight hours as a race against the Christmas clock! Was it crazy? Maybe a little. Was it worth it? Entirely.
Will I do such a giant baking venture again? Stay tuned... 😎
Gluten Free Mollie D | Eat, well.