Every day is a party at Christmastime–Christmas parties at school, Christmas parties at church, Neighborhood Christmas caroling, and cookie decorating! It is a fabulous time for everyone, most especially a sweet little 6 year old girl.
But with Christmas parties comes lots of Christmas goodies—most of them covered, smothered, mixed, and whipped with lots of dairy. So, we are working hard to give Vivian the same sweet toothed treats but with a few modifications!
Viv was invited by her neighborhood friend, Carlin, to a cookie decorating party. Although most of her friends are very conscious of her allergy, it is really not feasible to expect everyone to bake extra treats to accommodate her. And….that’s why this blog was created—to help kids like Vivian develop alternatives to bring along so they don’t feel left out and sad.
I tried many recipes to find the perfect allergy friendly sugar cookie.
I started with my grandmother’s basic sugar cookie recipe, and though I substituted earth balance butter, I must say they turned out the same as I remember. Crunchy on the outside; chewy on the inside.
This was achieved because I used my grandmother’s staple, Martha White flour.
This flour would be an okay option for Viv, but her friend Lilly was going to the party as well, and she has a gluten allergy.
So, I tried making the cookies again but subbing Martha White flour with King Arthur’s gluten free multi-purpose flour. And this time there were a few challenges.
I would say the most difficult challenge was having the dough actually work into the appropriate consistency for cookies. The fact that the flour is a bit grainy paired with the butter substitution that doesn’t ever actually achieve the hard, creamy consistency of butter was a little tough.
The use of a Silpat (a rubber tray liner that keeps stuff from sticking) is a must! I actually used three in this process. Mine came from both Williams Sonoma and Bed Bath and Beyond. I’m sure they sell them at most kitchen stores.
(Today in microfashion at the party)
Anyway, the silpat and the fact that my dough was FROZEN was really important. I found this out the hard way.
For the process of cutting, I got the dough out of the freezer, covered one silpat with flour, and worked really quickly. I used the gluten free flour a lot, and it doesn’t matter if you make the dough a little thicker doing this, it will come out ok in the end. I rolled the dough (flour covered rolling pin) onto the silpat and Vivian started cutting.
In order to keep the dough from falling apart I had to roll it a bit thicker than my grandmother’s consistency and use smaller cookie cutters. It simply fell apart with larger cookie cutters. This may prove to be a little more challenging for decorating details, but as you can see, Vivian covers the entire cookie anyway and uses sprinkles for embellishments!
The snowflakes were the most difficult for Vivian to cut because of all the extra little pieces. Dipping the cutter into flour and (again) keeping the dough very cold was most helpful.
In the end, I think the cookies turned out really nicely and they tasted very good! They almost had a shortcake consistency to them, which Viv actually loved. Vivian had so much fun at the party and felt completely involved and not at all different. And having Lilly there, with her gluten allergy, made it even better.
For a parent of a child with an allergy, it might take extra time and effort on your part to allow your child to have the same experiences as other kids without allergies, but trust me, when you see the smile on their face as they are enjoying making memories with their friends, it will be so worth it.
- 1½ cups Earth Balance butter (I like soy free)
- 2 cups white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used 2 to cut out the "earthiness" of the gluten free flour taste)
- 5 cups gluten free all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 box powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup almond milk
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Food coloring
- In a large bowl, cream together earth balance and sugar until smooth (it won’t actually get creamy). Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover and chill dough overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350. Roll out frozen dough on a floured surface to about ½ inch thick. Cut into shapes. Place cookies on a cookie sheet.
- Bake 8 minutes and cool completely. Frost after cooled.
- I just kind of eyeballed the icing, adding more sugar or almond milk when necessary. And the food coloring depends on how bright of a color you want. Be sure to make the consistency thick enough for spreading, and allow the cookies to dry completely before handling, or you will have a drippy mess on your hands! I use a wire cooking rack with a piece of parchment paper placed underneath for covering. It helps them drip and dry easier.
And have a very merry Christmas!