Over the past few years our ritual of setting out milk and cookies for Santa has shifted somewhat. We have gone from Almond Holiday Nog in a carton to a homemade variety, created with my friend Johanna at the same time as the Gingerbread Latte I posted a few days ago. I was pretty thrilled with the end result, as the ingredients were easy to procure, and were not dependant on a steady supply of the pre-made variety, which could get scarce around the holidays.
We have tried quite a few gingerbread recipes, but this is by far my favourite. Gluten free and vegan, it is also delicious and much less sweet than a lot of the other options we have tried. I am happy to discover lower sugar variations like this one, given the over abundance of sweet treats over the holidays. This recipe came my way care of a Sobey's cooking class, hosted in St John's care of my friend and all around health officiando, Katrina Hache, RHN. We didn't have a chance to make the icing this time around, however I have tried it with previous batches and it is amazing! I love finding a recipe that doesn't rely on icing sugar.
Without further ado, here are our two favourite holiday recipes, perfect for nibbling on in front of the fire, and/or leaving out for Mr. Claus and any helpers he may have on hand. Enjoy!
Nut Milk Ingredients (makes 4 cups)
1/2 cup organic almonds, soaked
1/4 cup organic cashews, soaked
1/4 cup organic macadamia nuts. soaked
3.5 cups filtered water
1/2 cup Chaga Chai
6 Tbsp maple syrup (or less, to taste)
4 Tbsp organic coconut cream
2 tsp fresh organic lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla bean powder (or extract)
1 tsp lucuma
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch ground clove
pinch ground cardamom
Soak nuts 2 hours to overnight, and rinse. Combine in a high speed blender with 3.5 cups filtered water. Blend for a couple of minutes, until fully blended and squeeze through a nut sack. Rinse out the blender and pour nut milk back in. Add additional ingredients, and process until smooth. For a warmer drink, add a bit of hot water and/or let the high speed blender run until desired temperature is reached. * For a holiday nog latte, add 1-2 Tbsp dandy blend when adding all additional ingredients.
Gluten-Free Gingerbread People - care of Katrina Hache
2 cups almond meal
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tbsp chia, ground
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup softened coconut oil
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
2 tsp vanilla extract, or vanilla bean powder
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine ground chia seeds and warm water, and let sit for 15 minutes. In a separate, smaller bowl, beat wet ingredients (including chia "egg") with an electric mixer, or vigorously whisk. I combined everything in my Vitamix, and found this worked really well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together. Form into a ball, cover, and place in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.
When the dough is firm and chilled, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place a large piece of parchment or waxed paper down on a clean, flat work surface. Lightly flour the paper with rice flour. I was making these with young kids and found I needed to keep applying brown rice flower to keep the dough from getting too sticky for them to handle. Take part of the dough and roll it out to a little less than 1/4 inch thickness.
Put the remaining dough back in the fridge to keep it chilled. Cut the dough out using your favourite holiday cookie cutters. Carefully peel away the dough around the cut outs. Take a thin spatula and lift the cookies onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes depending on how crispy you like your cookies. A few more minutes of making makes them crispy, just keep an eye out so they don't overcook. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool, then repeat with the remaining dough. Let cool completely before frosting.
Coconut Icing (yields 1 1/2 cups)
6 Tbsp coconut oil
1/3 cup coconut milk (from a carton or homemade, not the canned variety)
2 Tbsp coconut flour
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
Blend al ingredients until smooth and let chill for 6 hours. Warm slightly to mix and pipe onto cookies.
What is your favourite cookie or sweet treat to make during the holidays?