Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sugar Cookies: Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy, and Nut Free

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! Being a parent means there are class Valentine Day parties to prepare for. When you are a parent of a child who can't have certain foods, you either make something special for them, instead of what the other kids are having, or you volunteer to make the treats for the class yourself. I seem to be doing that a lot these days along with many of my friends, which is how this post was born.
I got a call last night from a friend, urgently looking for a dairy free sugar cookie recipe. Her son is allergic to dairy, so she's making the class cookie. My BFF is also in need of a gluten, dairy egg, soy, nut and citrus free version. I quickly got out my husband's "The New Betty Crocker Cookbook" (yes, it's really his) and took a look at what that recipe looked like to give me a starting point. The recipe called for flour, butter, eggs, and milk, which I had to replace. From there I made several alterations, to every ingredient in the recipe, and this is what I came up with. Betty wouldn't even recognize it.
Sugar Cookies by Kendra Hubbell
No gluten, soy, eggs, dairy, or nuts.
3 tbsp apple sauce (or other fruit puree) mixed with 1 tbsp baking powder. This replaces the egg.
1 cup Earth Balance (I used the Earth Balance Soy Free in the tub.)
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp vanilla
½ tsp almond extract (Optional)
3 cups Gluten Free All Purpous Baking Flour (I make my own with 1 1/2 cup Gluten Free Oat Flour, 1/2 cup Tapioca Flour, and 1 cup Potato Starch)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 ½ tsp xanthan gum
Granulated sugar (This is for sprinkling on top of the cookie before baking.)

In your mixer, add apple sauce plus 1 tbsp baking powder and mix until combined. Allow this sit for a minute.
In another large bowl, combine your dry ingredients; flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and xanthan gum. You can sift or mix with a whisk to combine.
Back to your mixer, add Earth Balance, powdered sugar, vanilla, almond extract (optional) and mix, creaming the ingredients until well combined, approximately 3 minutes. 
Add in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar and mix until well combined, about 3- 5 minutes.

Cover the dough and refrigerate at least 2 hours. After two hours was up, the dough seemed softer to me than I expected but it baked up great. This is why the 2 hours or longer in the fridge is very important to keep the dough cold. When I was ready to bake the dough, I was thinking that it looked too wet, so I tested it by baking two cookies. When you are baking gluten free, doughs will not look like what you are used to. They will be sticky and more wet than you would expect. 
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet.
Scoop out a chunk out of the dough with a big spoon and plop it on your rolling surface that has been "floured with powdered sugar and some of the flour you used. You may need to work some of the flour into the dough if it feels too sticky to work with. You will need to return the dough that you aren’t using into the fridge as it will melt quickly. Roll (I find the best success using a kids rolling pin) dough to ¼ inch thick. Cut into desired shapes with cookies cutters and place on a cookie sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper.
Sprinkle the cookies with granulated sugar even if decorating with icing or frosting.
Bake in 350 oven for 7 minutes. Cool on rack. Serve as is or decorate with icing or frosting and sprinkles.
Here are some options for decorating:
1-2 cup confectioners' sugar
1-2 tablespoon light corn syrup
2-4 tbsp water

Food coloring to desired color is achieved

Mix all ingredients together. You will need to re-mix in between uses so the consistency remains smooth.

2 cups powdered sugar
4 tbsp earth balance
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup of a liquid such as rice milk, coffee, lemon or orange juice (if citrus is tolerated), apple juice, or tea. If making a simple stiff vanilla frosting, you can add more Earth Balance and leave the liquid out or just use a bit of water until you reach the right consistency. 

Start with Earth Balance and vanilla in the mixer and combine. Add in powdered sugar until combined. Add liquid as needed until it reaches desired consistency. Cover in airtight container until use. I also store some in the freezer.


  1. Dough is in the mixer now! I'm going to chill overnight and roll them out tomorrow! We are having a cookie decorating play date on Friday. I'll have a tube of Pillsbury sugar cookie dough for the other kids and this homemade batch of goodness for the allergen-sensitive kids.

  2. I liked how the cookies turned out much lighter than traditional sugar cookies. The kids really liked them, even the kids who don't have food issues. :-)

  3. I made these again today!!! I bought some Star Wars cookie cutters from William Sonoma (link below) and they worked perfectly. I sprinkled on some colored sugar before baking and they turned out cute and delicious! I am thinking about handing them out as favors for my son's Star Wars themed birthday party. :)