Eating gluten-free doesn't mean you need to give up the holiday tradition of baking Christmas cookies — if anything, most people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity bake more often around the holidays than they once did, since it's tough to find store-bought gluten-free treats specifically created for the season.
Fortunately, excellent gluten-free Christmas cookie recipes abound online, both here at About.com and on gluten-free blog sites. Here's my roundup of some of the best ones I've found.
For gluten-free Christmas cookie recipes, this is the best place to start. Teri Gruss, About.com's Expert on Gluten-Free Cooking, has pulled together a list of holiday favorites that ranges from simple gluten-free sugar cookies you can cut out and decorate in holiday colors to elaborate pistachio cranberry biscotti that would suit a grown-up party.
This great gingerbread recipe, another from About.com's excellent gluten-free cooking expert, gets rave reviews. Just make sure to use safe spices — check out my gluten-free spices article if you need options.
If you like the combination of chocolate and peppermint, this recipe from well-known gluten-free chef Beth Hillson should please you: it uses crispy chocolate wafers to sandwich peppermint cream filling ... with crushed candy canes mixed in. The recipe, which uses Glutino Gluten-Free Pantry Decadent Chocolate Cake Mix, is easy to pull together and should be a real crowd-pleaser.
If you're feeling more adventurous than mere cookies can accommodate, you might want to try a major construction project: a gluten-free gingerbread house. You can bake one from scratch using a gluten-free gingerbread house recipe, or use a mix (one of these options utilizes Pamela's Gluten-Free Bread Mix). You also can order a kit. Top it off with gluten-free candy and you could have a prizewinner (if it lasts that long!).
Over at the gluten-free blog She Let Them Eat Cake, Maggie has posted 12 days of gluten-free Christmas cookie recipes. The chocolate peppermint wafer cookies look the best to me (although the pistachio-cranberry biscotti run a close second). Readers also have contributed some recipes, providing some interesting new options for holiday baking.
Madeleines are a type of French cookie, and one I particularly enjoyed in my pre-gluten-free days. Shauna James Ahern, author of the "Gluten Free Girl" blog and co-author (with her husband) of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, created these amazing-looking madeleines by adapting them from a French cookbook. With ginger, cloves and honey, they should make a delicious holiday treat.
I love cranberries and eat very few grains, and so these grain-free, agave-sweetened treats with orange zest from definitely appeal to me. Instead of a grain-based cookie base, the bars use a mixture of dates and pecans combined in a food processor with grape seed oil and sea salt.
Sometimes I feel as if my family is the only one out there that actually enjoys fruit cake ... but we can't be, because the grocery stores are packed with them during the holidays. Fruit cake doesn't really fit neatly into a list of gluten-free Christmas cookie recipes, but my holiday wouldn't be complete without it. Terri Mauro, About.com's Expert on Special Needs Children, has pulled together this list of gluten-free fruit cake recipes. Even if you don't really like fruit cake, some of these recipes might surprise you.