One of my fondest holiday memories from my childhood is the years we left Christmas cookies out for Santa. Since I enjoyed it so much, I’ve made it a tradition to make Christmas cookies with my kids on Christmas Eve and put a plate out for Santa. They enjoy every part of it, from licking the beaters after we make the icing, to decorating the cookies, to preparing the plate for Santa, to seeing nothing but crumbs the next morning. It’s just so fun!
The past couple of years, I’ve used a gluten-free and vegan Christmas cookie recipe that tastes great, but it uses a combination of gluten-free flours and more sugar than I use any other time of year. As much as I’ve enjoyed the recipe, it was time for a different one.
I wanted a cookie recipe that used almond flour so they would be low-carb and as nutrient dense as a cookie could be. I also wanted a frosting recipe that cut way back on the sugar. I found a couple of recipes that inspired me. In fact, the recipes were so good that I just sort of merged the two! I ended up using a combination of this Paleo sugar cookie recipe from Jake’s Gluten-free Market and this grain-free cut-out cookie recipe from Powerhungry.com. It resulted in cookies that kept their shape, are perfectly tender and crisp, and absolutely delicious!
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To make these wonderful cookies I used Honeyville almond flour that I bought at Costco for around $15. Costco typically has one or two brands of almond flour in stock for this price, but it’s not the only place you can buy almond flour at a reasonable price! Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage sells a large bag of almond flour in the refrigerated bulk section for around $18, and you can find almond flour on Amazon. Just be sure to buy almond flour that is fine ground and made with blanched almonds for the best results!
Of course, once I baked wonderful cookies I had to figure out how to make the perfect icing! In the past, I’ve used either traditional icing made from lots of powdered sugar and a little (non-dairy) milk or traditional buttercream frosting, which is also made with a lot of powdered sugar. But neither of those would do because I was on a mission to make icing or frosting with less sugar and nothing like corn syrup. Enter Camilla’s recipe for coconut cream frosting from Powerhungry.com. I admit, I had my doubts. After all, I didn’t want my Christmas cookies to taste like coconut. But I was surprised how good this frosting tasted when I followed the recipe, and even more surprised after I made a few tweaks!
I didn’t want to have to refrigerate the icing to thicken it up, so instead I added arrowroot and just a tiny bit of xanthan gum. I also added just a little bit of almond flavoring. You have to be careful with almond flavoring because it is so powerful, but in this case, a little is magical! It covers up the slight coconut flavor that the icing had and compliments the flavor of the almond flour cookies perfectly. The icing set up well, too. Woo hoo!
Healthy Christmas Cookies with Sugar Free Icing
So there you have it: my new Christmas cut-out cookie recipe that has a lot more nutrients and a lot less sugar than frosted sugar cookies typically have. In fact, since all I use is a little bit of honey to sweeten the cookies and kept the icing sugar-free, I’d consider these cookies low-sugar and low-carb! Don’t forget, these Christmas cut-out cookies are also grain-free, gluten-free, primal, and they can easily be made paleo and vegan. If you think these cookies sound healthy, you are right. Eat up, Santa!Santa and the kids will love these delicious Christmas cut out cookies. Only you have to know they're healthy, grain-free, low in sugar, and easily made paleo and vegan! Click To Tweet
Christmas Cut-Out Cookies for Santa
- 2 cups almond flour, finely ground
- 1/4 cup butter, room temperature (or non-hydrogenated palm shortening for paleo/vegan version)
- 1/4 cup honey (agave syrup for vegan version)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional, see notes)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond flavoring
- 1/2 cup tapioca starch (for dusting your counter top and rolling pin)
Coconut Cream Frosting
- 1/2 cup coconut cream (use the solid portion at the top of a can of coconut milk)
- 2 Tbsp arrowroot
- 1 Tbsp non-alcoholic vanilla flavoring
- 1/4 tsp almond flavoring
- 1/8 tsp xanthan gum, if needed to thicken the frosting more
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Wisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate, smaller bowl, wisk together the honey, vanilla and almond flavoring. Add the butter and wet ingredients to the dry and mix together with a sturdy spoon. If your butter is soft enough, you may be able to mix the dough thoroughly with the spoon. Lose the spoon and use your hands to break up and knead the remaining butter, if needed.
When you are done, you will have a ball of dough that you can wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Prepare your flat surface, like a counter top or table top, by covering with wax paper and securing with tape. Sprinkle generously with tapioca starch or another light gluten-free flour.
Remove the dough from the plastic and place on the prepared surface. Sprinkle again with tapioca starch and cover with another piece of wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until it's about ¼ inch thick. Sprinkle the dough with more tapioca starch if it starts to stick.
Use a wet cookie cutter to cut out shapes: remove the excess dough from around the shape, put your hand under the parchment paper and gently push up to remove the cookie from the parchment paper.
Arrange the cookies on the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet at least 1 inch apart.
Bake for about 8 minutes, being careful not to let the edges or bottoms turn brown since even slightly burned almond flour can taste bitter. Let cool before removing from the pan or frosting.
Coconut Cream Frosting
Scoop the solid portion off the top of a can of coconut milk (it will leave clear coconut oil in the can). Alternatively, you can use a small can of coconut cream or refrigerate the can of coconut milk (if there is no or very little solid coconut cream at the top of the can).
Put it in a bowl with the arrowroot powder and vanilla flavoring and wisk until smooth. The almond extract is optional in the frosting, but I like it!
Let the frosting sit while the cookies cook and cool so that it can thicken. If it is still too runny, 1/8 tsp xanthan gum can be added. Just be sure to let the frosting sit again after adding the xanthan gum so it can continue to thicken.
- Frost the cookies and immediately add decorations, if desired.
A 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum can be added to the dry ingredients of the cookie dough to help the cookie dough bind. It makes the cookies less delicate and easier to handle before baking, but the xanthan gum can also be left out, for those who prefer to avoid it.
I hope you enjoy making these Christmas cut-out cookies with your kids! My kids taste-tested these and devoured them. Hopefully your kids – and Santa – enjoy them as much as my family did!
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