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Archive for December 7th, 2012

Looking for some easy, gluten free, holiday recipes to make with your kids that don’t require you to blend a bunch of flours together?  Whether you’re new to the gluten free lifestyle, baking for gluten free guests (and have no idea what a “flour blend” is), or just looking to add a few easy recipes to round out your holiday baking, you’ll find that these recipes are both delicious AND fun to make with your little bakers.

We do a lot of “dipping” for Christmas goodies because it’s something the kids can easily help with, and because everything tastes better dipped in chocolate!  There are some tasty gluten free products that make wonderful substitutions in some of our favorite chocolate-dipped, holiday desserts.  Plus, if you’re giving away plates of goodies to friends and neighbors, you can easily use the “regular,” less expensive wheat versions and still make some gluten free goodies for home!  (Just be sure to always dip the gluten free items in chocolate first, before anything containing wheat, so there’s no risk of cross-contamination.  Also, label the waxed paper where you set the cookies to harden so you can tell which ones are gluten free when you’re finished!)

Some favorite, kid-friendly goodies with gluten free substitutions include:

  • Chocolate-Dipped Glutino Pretzels.  You can actually buy these dipped in chocolate already, but we like to dip them in white almond bark (according to package directions) and sprinkle them with colored decorators sugar (my daughter’s favorite activity).  Glutino’s gluten free  pretzels are better than wheat pretzels, in my opinion, and can be found online at Amazon and Vitacost.  To make this super easy for the kids, we get the stick pretzels and let them dip them half-way, like wands.  It makes a nice sweet/salty combo.
  • Pretzel Turtles with Glutino Pretzels.  This was the first holiday goody my kids helped make, starting when they were 2-years-old.  Have your child place some pretzel twists (the regular shape, not sticks) on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet.  Your child can then unwrap a Rolo candy (with help from you, if he’s really young) and place one on top of each pretzel.  Melt the chocolate slightly in an oven preheated to 250 degrees for 3 minutes.  Set out pecan halves, red and green M&Ms, or whatever you’d like on top.  When the chocolate has melted, your child can gently press a pecan half or M&M onto each Rolo to squish it down.  Just let it cool and that’s it!  If you’re concerned about the hot baking sheet, you can slide the foil onto the counter for the last step.  WARNING: Be sure to get regular Rolos.  The new mini Rolos and other new miniature versions of gluten free candies (like mini Butterfingers) are NOT gluten free.  Always read labels on every new product, even if other variations are gluten free.
  • Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies.  These sandwich cookies that we used to make with Ritz crackers were always a hit at parties, and my personal favorite.  We’ve found that the Glutino original round crackers work just as well (although they’re a little less salty).  Kids can make peanut butter cracker sandwiches, then simply dip them in melted chocolate almond bark.  (I use a baby fork to gently turn the cracker sandwich over in the chocolate, then lift it out, tapping the fork on the side of the bowl to shake off excess chocolate before placing the cookie on waxed paper to harden.)  The best thing about this recipe is that it’s ready to eat almost immediately!  The downside of the Glutino crackers, though, is that it seems like half the crackers in the package are broken.  So we just try to match up halves and make half-sandwiches to dip.  They still taste good, even if they’re not round – plus you can call them “reduced-calorie”!
  • Mint Chocolate-Dipped KinniToos (gluten free coookies that taste just like Oreos, only they’re a little softer).  Similar to the recipe above, we dip half of a KinniToos cookie (available at Amazon and Vitacost) in melted green mint chocolate chips (we use Guittard chips, but you could also pull out the green chips in the Nestle mint chocolate chip bag).  If you can’t find the mint chips, dip the cookies in white almond bark and sprinkle crushed candy canes or decorative sprinkles on top for a festive looking treat.

Some of our favorite recipes are naturally gluten free, like Peanut Butter Balls.  I like to make the peanut butter balls early in December because I freeze the balls for dipping in chocolate, which means I can dip a few now and save the rest to dip later for Christmas parties (or for Valentines Day fondue!).  For guests or kids with multiple allergies, check out my recipe for Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, No Bake Cookies (which can also be made peanut free by substituting sunflower butter).  My 11-year-old son likes to make these, and does most of it by himself.

Another naturally gluten free holiday goody is fudge.  The recipe I came up with is so quick and easy that my 8-year-old daughter made it all by herself this year.  It can easily be dressed up by sprinkling Andes Peppermint Bark Chips (found next to the chocolate chips) on top to make festive looking Mint Fudge.  You can also make Turtle Fudge by mixing in some chopped pecans right before spreading it in the pan, then drizzling some caramel sauce on top and pressing in a few coarsely chopped pecan halves.  (I like to save the caramel dipping sauce that comes with apples at McDonald’s for little baking projects like this.  Yes, I’m THAT cheap.)

Christmas 007

Brenda’s So-Easy-An-8-Year-Old-Can-Make-It Fudge

3 c. chocolate chips (I use semi-sweet)
14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 T. butter
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring (not extract)

Line a 9″ square baking pan with foil and grease with butter.  Pour the chocolate chips into a microwave-safe mixing bowl that is completely dry (otherwise you’ll end up with frosting instead of fudge).  Add sweetened condensed milk and butter.  Melt chocolate in microwave at 70% power for 90 seconds.  Stir until smooth.  If necessary, heat the chocolate for another 15 sec. at 70% power and stir.  When chocolate is melted, stir in vanilla (and pecans, if making Turtle Fudge).  Immediately transfer to pan and smooth top.  If desired, press Andes Peppermint Bark baking chips into half or all of fudge – I like to make half mint and half plain – or top with caramel and pecans for Turtle Fudge.

Another easy recipe is Rice Krispies Treats made with gluten free Rice Krispies (be sure you get the box labeled “gluten free” – the regular cereal is not GF).  My mom used to add food coloring to the marshmallow mixture and shape the treats into trees, with silver candy balls on top.  You can make all sorts of fun shapes by using cookie cutters (and decorating like sugar cookies) or checking out the myriad variations on the Rice Krispies website.

Of course, if you want to bake, you can make my Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies as bars, using the Nestle Tool House holiday morsels that are red and green (if you can find them) or red and green M&Ms.  Or you can make Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies with the dough by pressing an unwrapped Hershey’s Kiss into the cookies as soon as they come out of the oven.

I also like to use the red and green M&Ms to add a festive touch to my allergy-friendly Homemade Kettle Corn, which I often give as a Christmas gift in a jar or ziplock bag that the kids have decorated with holiday stickers.

In addition to the 10 flourless recipes above, if you have the ingredients for my flour blend, you can also check out my recipes for:

  • Gluten Free Sugar Cookies that don’t require frosting, only a little decorators sugar
  • Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (by far, my most popular dessert recipe) that can be made festive with Nestle’s red and green morsels or holiday M&Ms
  • Gluten Free, Dairy Free Brownies that taste as good as any boxed mix I’ve ever had, and can be dressed up with chocolate chips, peanut butter cups, or anything else you’d do with a boxed mix.
  • Brownie Pie that uses Pamela’s Pancake and Baking Mix for the flour, and tastes AMAZING with mint chocolate chips.

I’ll do my best to add pictures as I bake throughout the month, but I wanted to share the recipes right away for you early birds.

Merry Gluten Free Christmas!

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