For as long as I can remember (and before I was even born), these fun "Jello" flavored sugar cookies have been a part of my family's Christmas tradition. Every Christmas Eve, my mom would bake batches of each flavor (favorites were lime, strawberry, and pineapple) and then my siblings would all get together and decorate them. With older brothers involved, we'd always end up with inappropriate snowmen, decorated cookie hands missing certain fingers, you get the drift. But the point is, it was always such a fun and whimsical time spent together, and one of my favorite parts about getting together for the holidays.
When I began shifting my diet years ago and ultimately gave up gluten, this was one of those family favorites that I truly wanted to find a way to still enjoy. Last year I set out to perfect this recipe, and perfect it I did! However, that recipe used a pre-made gluten free flour blend, and I wanted to create a version that wasn't successful only with a particular mix. I feel that I have finally mastered the right combo, after much trial and error (and devouring a few too many "almost but not quite yets"), and I could not be more THRILLED to be sharing this recipe with you all!
This recipe is not only gluten free, but also grain free, nut free, dairy free (with other options), soy free, and doesn't contain a lot of sugar (1/2 cup for the whole batch!) No mystery ingredients or artificial colors. In place of the standard boxed jello mix to flavor the batter, this recipe uses dehydrated fruit that is blended into powder and a quality, gut-nourishing gelatin. And they hold up to all the decorations your heart desires! I've also included the remake of my mom's amazing decorator's frosting. Bear in mind that frosting is still pure sugar, but this version omits the mysteriously coagulated Crisco of days gone by!
Flavored Cutout Sugar Cookies
(Gluten free, Dairy free, Soy free, Paleo)
Makes approx. 18 medium cookies (amount will vary based cookie cutter shape)
- 1/2 cup (8 Tbs) ghee, coconut oil, or butter (or a combo, i.e. 1/2 ghee, 1/2 coconut oil)
- 1/2 cup organic sugar (I use white for this recipe to maintain the most vibrant colors. You can also use coconut sugar)
- 3 Tbs pure, quality gelatin (this is another good one)
- 2 eggs
- flavor variation of choice (below)
- 1 cup cassava flour
- 1/2 cup arrowroot or tapioca starch
- 1/2 tsp baking powder (you can make your own corn/grain free version easily. I use this recipe)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp lime zest
- 1 Tbs lime juice
- 1/2 tsp spirulina or chlorella (this gives the green hue. Can be omitted)
- 3 Tbs ground freeze-dried raspberries (I blend these in a food processor)
- 1 Tbs water or beet juice (for more vivid color)
- Cream fat (ghee, coconut oil, or butter), sugar, and gelatin in a stand mixer or medium-sized bowl with an electric beater.
- Keep mixer on low and add eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is well incorporated.
- Add ingredients for desired flavor combo to your creamed mixture.
- Sift together cassava, arrowroot or tapioca starch, baking powder, and sea salt in a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup at a time to creamed ingredients, mixing well each time. Mix briefly on medium-high to ensure all ingredients are well incorporated.
- Turn dough out onto parchment paper and wrap in plastic wrap or place in a plastic baggie, flattening slightly.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Dough can also be frozen for future use.
- Preheat oven to 350. Remove dough from fridge and allow to sit at room temp for 10-15 minutes. *The mango flavor is a slightly wetter dough. Upon removing from fridge roll out immediately and use additional arrowroot or tapioca starch to dust to ensure smooth cookie cutting.
- Lightly dust counter or parchment paper with arrowroot or tapioca starch and flatten dough slightly with your hands. Sprinkle more starch on top of dough and roll to approx. 1/8-1/4 inch. I do this between two pieces of parchment paper for easy cleanup.
- Cut out desired cookie shapes and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Oven temps will vary, so check your cookies and adjust accordingly.
- Remove from oven and let cool.
- 1 lb organic powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup organic palm shortening
- 1 egg white
- 1-2 drops lemon essential oil (or 1/2 tsp lemon juice)
- dash salt
- 1/2 tsp melted and cooled butter or ghee
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean powder
- water as needed for thinning
Optional: In a pinch, this is a great frosting alternative. You can use natural dyes and non-artificial sprinkles and sugars for clean decorating! You can also decorate with dried and/or dehydrated fruit and shredded coconut.
- Mix all ingredients together (this works best with a stand or hand mixer) until well incorporated.
- Add water 1 Tbs at a time as needed to thin out for decorating
- Add to a piping bag with piping tip for more intricate designs, or spread cookies evenly with frosting. You can add additional natural ingredients (more dehydrated fruit powder, spirulina, turmeric, beet powder, etc) for colored options.
These cookies yield perfectly crisp edges, slightly chewy centers, and fun, whimsical flavors that really set them apart from your standard sugar cookie. While they're perfect for your Christmas cookie traditions, they're also great for other holiday celebrations! Valentine's Day hearts or shamrock-shaped cookies? Perfect! They sky's the limit.
I hope these naturally-hued magical cookies become a cherished part of your family holiday traditions as much as they are for mine!
Happiest, healthiest holidays!
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