As I mentioned in this post, quite a few other posts and often in Beyond Bacon, the history of baking with my grandmother spans back as far as my memories can reach. It has been a long-standing tradition in our family that every Christmas my grandmother would make Christmas cookies for friends and family. Of course, my sisters and I often looked forward to sleepovers at mama’s, where she would sneak us coffee (with lots of sugar and cream) in the morning and then we’d spend the day baking the aforementioned and famous family cookies.
Just as I have taken up some of her traditions after her passing a few years ago, so have my sisters. My sister Jackie, in particular, has become the expert in recreating my grandmother’s Candy Cane Cookie recipe. Of course, when Jackie moved into our home a couple months ago one of the rules was no gluten in the house. And because I have an awesome sister who is loving and respectful, instead of moaning and complaining that she couldn’t make mama’s cookies here… she set about reading all the paleo cookbooks we own, inquiring about how all the different grain-free flours work, and testing recipes for weeks.
Matt, Stacy, Jackie, Wesley (3), Cole (8), Finian (5), Jeremiah (7) – yes, that math is right – 4 boys between the ages of 3 and 8.
Last week, after the we cut down our annual Christmas tree at a local farm but before the tree became a nightmare (read the story here – and subscribe so you don’t miss another issue, that’s where we’ve been communicating a lot lately!) it seemed the perfect opportunity and time to perfect the cookies and share the process with the boys.
I say process as a warning. This is not a quick-and-easy cookie. There are going to be ingredients you probably don’t have in your cabinet or ingredients you might not want to use. I’m going to tell you right now, we have tested these cookie a LOT. We have linked to the specific brands we recommend and offered substitutions where possible. Beyond that, you’ll have to experiment on your own.
The awesome news is that this dough, as instructed, is wonderful to work with and your children will have a BLAST rolling it out into swirls or braids and then forming their cute candy cane shapes. As we tested this dough the boys went through batches after batches of dough, never tiring of making cookies and often asking “When will you make more dough? We wanna make more cookies!”
Our long-standing family tradition is to make our now-paleoized Monkey Bread together on Christmas Eve. It’s looking like these cookies will become part of our Christmas Eve tradition as well, since the boys have informed me that Santa is going to love these cookies!
The color will change when you bake them, but without using a lot of red dye no.40 there’s not much you can do about that. As you can see (above) the boys (easy) versions still turned out cute and (frankly) delicious. They simply took pieces of each dough and rolled it out together, forming a swirly pattern. Jackie shows you the traditional method of braiding the doughs together below, if you wanna try to be fancy pants about the whole thing.
Roll out even-sized pieces of each color of dough, lay them beside each other and begin to fold one over the other, from the middle going outward, pinching the ends off when satisfied. Finally, bend your shape as you lay it onto the baking try. It might take a few tries to get it right, so maybe save the dough from the failed attempts for your littles to play with and roll out into the swirly kind.
- 1/2 C palm shortening
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 C honey
- 1/2 C palm or organic raw cane sugar
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp almond extract
- 3 1/2 C almond flour
- 3 Tbsp coconut flour
- 2 Tbsp potato or tapioca starch or arrowroot flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp peppermint extract
- Glob (1/4 tsp or until color desired is achieved) natural red food coloring
- In an electric mixer, mix palm shortening and eggs together until combined, about 20 seconds.
- Add sugar, honey, vanilla extract, and almond extract and whip to incorporate until fluffy.
- Add sifted flours, starch, baking soda and salt and mix just until dough forms (do not over beat).
- Remove half of the dough from the bowl and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place in freezer for 20 minutes or fridge overnight.
- Add peppermint and food color to remaining dough and process until color is fully incorporated.
- Wrap remaining red peppermint dough in plastic and chill with almond base dough.
- Remove from fridge and pinch off small pieces of dough, about 2 tablespoons, and roll between hands to form about 4" ropes.
- Twist together a red dough rope with a white one for a braided affect, or simply roll together for a swirl affect and place on baking sheet, curling the end for the candy cane shape.
- Bake for 10 minutes* at 350 degrees, let cool before removing from tray. They become more stiff as they cool - are great next day!
- Store at room temperature for a few days, or chilled for a week or more. Freezes excellent!
- *OPTIONAL: blend together 1/2 granulated sugar, a smidge of natural red food color and 1/2 tsp peppermint extract together. Add as a topping to peppermint cookies for an added crunch after 8 minutes in oven. Cook for an additional 2 and remove.
We hope you enjoy this super special recipe as much as little Wessie did!