Gluten-Free cut out Christmas cookies
Cut out cookies are one of my all time favorites around the holidays (and any occasion-- so many cookie cutter options now!). I just know there was so much time and dedication put into a cut out cookie. And if it's decorated, well that's just the icing on the (cookie). See what I did there?
I've tried to find a sugar cookie recipe that was: sturdy, held it's shape baking and storing in a cookie canister, tasted great alone but also was not overtly sweet when decorated, oh... and gluten-free.
Long story short, I couldn't find one. So off I went to make my own, and after 3 batches, over 50 cookies and many runs to the grocery store for more butter-- I finally found it. There is a labor of love that comes with sugar cookies, it's just in their nature to be difficult. That's what makes receiving them all the more great.
I will preface this recipe by saying, you should account for ~ 3 hours from start to finish here (possibly not including decorating). But I promise you it will be worth it! I've gifted all of the cookies out and so far, no complaints (and some people didn't even realize they were both gluten-free and keto-friendly.
Salted butter: If you have been following my recipes for awhile you know that I always use salted vs. unsalted butter. The reason here is because by using the salt in the butter vs., adding a 1/4 tsp of salt in the recipe you get a move balanced and subtle salt throughout instead of risking not having the sea salt you put in actually hit all the servings of the cookie. Now, I always encourage you to try this method once before knocking it, but if you only have unsalted butter that's fine, just add 1/4 tsp. salt into the recipe. For my paleo friends, go ahead and swap out coconut oil and add the 1/4 tsp. salt.
Room temperature eggs: I have written about this in previous posts, but in this situation you definitely want to make sure your eggs and butter are the same temperature before you start. So go ahead and take your egg out ahead of time, and crack it into a small bowl and leave it on the counter for ~30 minutes.
Coconut flour: Do not omit this, I did that in my 3 attempts at the recipe and anytime it was omitted the cookies fall apart.
Gluten free flour: This recipe has only been tested using blanched almond flour (not meal) and coconut flour-- I cannot for certain say it will hold if the flours are swapped out.
Rolling out the dough: So when you bake Gluten-Free, you don't want to be adding extra flour to the surface and then roll out your dough (like you would with gluten flour). The texture is different, and you will get a "Grainy" feeling in your cookie and no one wants that! I have found that if you roll your dough between 2 pieces of parchment, it works perfect and eliminates the need for a floured surface. Place a piece of parchment on your counter, take the dough and put it on top in a ball. Put another sheet of parchment on top of that ball and roll with a rolling pin. So your rolling pin will never touch your dough it will always be on the parchment paper. As a note, you always want to roll room temperature dough. So when you're in between batches and trying to use the left over "ends" of your dough... let it come up to room temp before you put it between the parchment and roll out again. Rolling out cold dough is not fun and causes cracks.
Refrigeration: This is absolutely KEY, do not skip this step at all! There are multiple places where you have to refrigerate so read the directions carefully.
And lastly, and my most important rule: Give every batch of cookies the same fighting chance.
This means exactly what you think it means. Each time you roll out the dough, you have to treat it the same as the first time. That means:
Put it back in the fridge for the same amount of time as the first batch (I know you're rushing, I know the oven is on... I know you want to get this over with... ) but you have to give them all the same fighting chance or else our first set of cut outs will be perfect and then it will go downhill from there.
Don't put cut out cookies on a warm baking sheet. When you take the sheet out of the oven and transfer cookies to a cooling rack, don't put your new batch of cut cookies on that warm baking sheet. They will lose their shape and start to melt down, and again you want to treat every batch like it was your first.
Once you finish cutting out the cookies in one batch and you have the "scraps" of dough left, resist the urge to immediately form into a ball, roll it out and cut it again. Let the dough come completely up to room temperature again (like the first batch was) before you roll it out again. Rolling out cold dough causes cracks in your cookies--no one wants that!) See recipe note for: rolling out dough
Okay, now that we have that all out of the way, let's get to the recipe!
6 tbs. salted butter, very soft but not melted (paleo friends, please see above recipe notes under "salted butter")
1/2 c. sugar (keto friends: use Swerve/Monkfruit granular, paleo friends: use coconut sugar)
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. almond flour (not meal)
2 tbs. coconut flour
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Yields ~24 cut out cookies using standard cookie cutters
Directions: Cream together soft butter and sugar for 3 minutes in a standing mixer with paddle attachment, or hand mixer. If your butter is not totally soft, cream for 5 minutes until you do not see chunks of butter. It really should like like a pale yellow whipped butter. Then add egg and vanilla extract and mix for another 4 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Slowly add in the flour/dry ingredients to your mixer bowl until the dough is combined. You will start to see it come together into a "ball". It won't be a pizza or pie crust ball, but you will see the dough come together-- then stop, don't over mix.
Take the dough out of the mixer and place on parchment paper. (See recipe notes, "rolling out the dough").
Roll out to ~ 1/2 an inch. Now, this step is INCREDIBLY important so read carefully. When your dough is all rolled out, lift the top parchment paper and then take the rolled dough that is not cut out yet and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
When your dough is cooled for 30 minutes, take it out and it will be HARD, it should not fall apart if you hold it by the bottom parchment, if it does... put it back in the fridge for another 15 minutes.
Now you can cut out your shapes and place them on a silicon lined baking sheet. It really needs to be silicon and not parchment, see more about this here. After you have cut out your shapes and placed them on the silicon baking sheet, place the baking sheet BACK in the refrigerator-- YES i'm serious.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
After 15-20 minutes (or as long as the preheating takes), place your baking sheet from the fridge into the oven and bake for 11-13 minutes, watching for browned edges. When you take the cookies out, leave them on the sheet for another 2 minutes this will help to "Dry them" and stop the cooking process will also protecting them from cracking if they're moved when they're too hot. Transfer onto a wire rack to further cool before decorating.
Then continue your batches in this fashion, make sure make sure that between each batch you are refrigerating and cutting the same way. Otherwise, they will in fact fall apart. But if you give each batch the same patience and time you did the first these cookies will not disappoint.
They can be held in the fridge for 7 days or on the counter for 3-5 days, my favorite is to store them in the freezer and take them out throughout the year if I need a quick little treat!
**Nutrition facts include, butter, regular cane sugar, and do not include decorations/icing**