Cookie recipes to match specific dietary needs

My grocery list for holiday baking includes the basics such as all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, spices, eggs and plenty of nuts and chocolate. If I were the parent or grandparent of a child with food allergies or if I had food allergies, my list would be very different. It might include gluten-free flour (one of the many types of flours used in allergy baking), soy-free non-hydrogenated margarine, sunflower seed butter and xanthan gum.

According to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (, at least 15 million Americans have food allergies, and 6 to 8 million are children, which means about 1 in 13 children have food allergies.

Chris and Beth Faunce of Stowe know what it's like to have a child with food allergies. By the time their son Andrew was 16 months old, they learned that he was allergic to not just milk and peanuts, but also eggs, tree nuts, peas, green beans, strawberries, chicken, turkey and cod. "When we found out it was overwhelming," said Mrs. Faunce.

"We couldn't go out to dinner. We have to read every label and watch for cross-contamination."

Andrew, now 7 and in second grade, brings his lunch and snacks to school. "He knows what he can and can't eat,'' said his mom. The couple's other children, Brady, 4, and Abby, 2, show no signs of allergies.

Unfortunately, what is a year-round problem becomes even more difficult during the holidays when everyone is baking cookies and other tempting treats. So this year I decided to bake Christmas cookies for people with food allergies.

I made seven batches of "special" cookies. Five are free of certain allergens, one is low-salt and one is a generally healthy recipe.


PG tested

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free.

  • 2 cups cashews, or 1 1/2 cups cashew butter
  • 6 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

If using cashews (instead of cashew butter) soak for 8 hours in 6 cups of water, then rinse a few times until the water is no longer cloudy. Drain fully.

In a blender, combine cashews or cashew butter, agave, coconut oil, salt and vanilla. Blend in a blender or processor to a smooth paste. If using cashew butter instead of soaked cashews, you can mix in a bowl instead of a blender. Add the cocoa powder and continue to blend until you have a smooth velvety texture.

Scoop the fudge into a bowl and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to solidify and reduce stickiness. Line a plate with a piece of parchment.

Once the fudge has hardened a bit, scoop out 12 teaspoon size portions onto the parchment. Place the fudge back in the refrigerator for 10 minutes longer. When cool, roll the scoops into the shape of a ball with your hands. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Makes about 12 pieces.

-- "Allergy-Friendly Food for Families" from the editors of Kiwi Magazine (Andrews McMeel, 2012. $24.99)


PG tested

This recipe is gluten-free.

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup regular or mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup toasted chopped nuts of your choice

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat for a few seconds to combine. Add vanilla and beat for a few more seconds to combine. Increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and sprinkle in the sugar a little bit at a time. Increase the speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form, about 10 minutes. Gently fold in the chocolate chips with a large spoon or rubber spatula. Fold in the nuts (if using).

Drop the meringue by heaping teaspoons or tablespoon (depending on how big you want them) onto the prepared sheets, spacing the cookies about 11/2 inches apart. Bake about 20 minutes for slightly chewy cookies or about 25 minutes for more crispy cookies. Carefully remove to wire racks to cool completely -- the cookies will fall apart if you try to eat them too soon. Store in an airtight container up to 5 days.

Makes about 45 small cookies or 30 big cookies.

-- "Gluten Free Baking For the Holidays" by Jeanne Sauvage (Chronicle, 2012. $24.95).


PG tested

This recipe is gluten-free.

  • 7 ounces dark chocolate melts (wafers)
  • 3 drops peppermint extract
  • 4 ounces white chocolate melts
  • 4 drops green food coloring

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil. In a saucepan, melt the dark chocolate over very low heat, stirring constantly. Stir in the peppermint extract. Spread half the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate 5 minutes to set. Melt the white chocolate in the same way and stir in the green food coloring. Spread all of this over the layer of dark chocolate and refrigerate to set. Spread the remaining dark chocolate over the white/green chocolate and refrigerate to set. Cut into pieces and store in the fridge.

Makes about 20 pieces.

-- "4 Ingredients Gluten-Free" by Kim McCosker and Rachael Bermingham (Atria, 2009)


PG tested

This recipe is gluten-free.

  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 cups gluten-free all--purpose flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Fold in flour and roll into 2-inch balls. Place on the baking sheet. Use the end of a wooden spoon to push a hole almost through to the base of each dough ball. Fill the holes with jam and bake 15 minutes. Or until slightly golden. Let cool before serving.

Makes about 60 drops.

-- "4 Ingredients Gluten-Free" by Kim McCosker and Rachael Bermingham (Atria, 2009)


PG tested

  • 12/3 cups gluten-free all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together remaining ingredients until smooth.

Add dry ingredients to wet, one half at a time.

Form the dough into 11/2 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Press the tines of a fork into each ball, forming a criss-cross pattern. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

Makes about 48 cookies.

-- "Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen- & Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes" by Kim Lutz with Megan Hart (Sterling, 2011).


PG tested

This cookie is low-salt.

  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brow sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses (dark preferred)
  • 1/4 cup canola or corn oil
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute or 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (plus more as needed for rolling the dough)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray

In a large bowl, stir together brown sugar, molasses, oil, egg substitute, and sugar.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, cloves and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the brown sugar mixture, stirring to form a soft dough. Return dough to the medium bowl, cover tightly, and refrigerate 2 to 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray. Set aside.

Sprinkle flour on a flat working surface. Roll half the cookie dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Dip the edges of cookie cutters in flour, shaking off the excess. Cut out the cookies continuing to dip the cookie cutters in flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Transfer cookies to baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake 5 to 6 minutes or until the cookies are slightly firm to the touch. Transfer baking sheets to cooling racks. Let the cookies cool slightly. Transfer cookies to cooling rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies depending upon the size of the cookie cutters.

-- "The American Heart Association Low-Salt Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2011)


PG tested

This cookie is good for you.

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola or corn oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 15 ounce can solid pack pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 1 cup uncooked quick cooking oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 2 baking sheet with cooking spray (I used parchment paper).

In a medium bowl, sift together flours, pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth and golden. Beat in pumpkin until smooth.

Stir in oatmeal. Gradually stir in flour mixture, about 1/3 at a time, gently blending until no flour is visible. Stir in pecans if using.

Using a small 1 tablespoon spring loaded scoop (cookie scoop) or tablespoon, drop dough by tablespoonfuls, 18 to 20 on each baking sheet. Dampen the heel of your hand and lightly press each cookie to flatten slightly (these cookies don't spread as they bake).

Bake 14 to 18 minutes, or until the cookies appear dry. Transfer from baking sheets to cooling racks and let cool.

Makes about 20 cookies.

-- "The New American Heart Association Cookbook" (Clarkson Potter, 2010).

Arlene Burnett: First Published December 6, 2012 5:00 AM


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