Gingerbread cookies are one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. I haven't made Christmas cookies since discovering I had a gluten sensitivity, a sad, sad situation that many gluten-free folks experience. Learning a new kind of baking is scary, and all it takes is one flop to make sure you never make another attempt.
For me, I just never tried. I figured I could never compete with my grandma's gingerbread recipe that I grew up with, and the idea of duplicating her perfectly tender recipe without using wheat flour threw me for a loop. This year, I got over myself. And guess what? The gingerbread cookies I made were nothing short of incredible.
There's a trick to working with gluten-free dough, since it's much stickier than doughs made with wheat flour. It needs to be kept chilled, and once it's been cut with cookie cutters, moving it from one place to another is nearly impossible because it likes to hang onto to everything it touches. The best way to work with gluten-free cookie doughs is to roll it out between two pieces of parchment and then stick it in the fridge for 30 minutes. Once it's chilled, you can cut out your shapes with cookie cutters.
At this point I recommend removing the excess dough to be re-rolled, and then cutting the parchment around the cookies with a pair of scissors. The cookies can then be moved without contorting into ridiculous shapes, and since they're on parchment, they won't stick to the cookie sheet after they're done baking. Once they're done, I move the baked cookies while they're still secured to the parchment, leaving them on the paper until they're completely cooled and not likely to break into pieces.
Also, I found the funniest cookie cutters I've seen in a long time: Fred & Friends Ninjabread Men Cookie Cutters. While you can buy them online, I got my ninjabread men at a local East Bay gift shop called Nathan & Co. This little shop carries a huge array of culinary gifts, and if you're looking for some last minute presents for the foodie in your life, I can't recommend this place enough. Another place to shop for gifts for the chef in your family is Urban Indigo, in Oakland.
Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies
Makes: About 2 dozen 3-inch cookies
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/8 teaspoon guar gum
2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Icing and sprinkles for decorating
1. With a stand mixer or electric hand beater, beat shortening, sugar, xanthan gum, and guar gum until well mixed. Add in egg yolks and beat for 1 minute, then add vanilla and molasses and mix until well incorporated.
2. Add gluten-free flour mix, sweet rice flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and salt. Beat until you've got a smooth dough. Roll dough out between two pieces of parchment until it is 1/2-inch thick and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. Remove dough from fridge and cut with cookie cutters. Remove the excess dough from between the shapes and cut the parchment around the cookies with a pair of scissors. Gently move the cookies with their attached parchment to a cookie sheet and place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to keep the cookies chilled. Repeat until you've used up all the dough.
4. Once all the dough has been cut with cookie cutters and the shapes are arranged on a baking sheet, place the baking sheets in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350° while they are chilling.
5. Bake cookies for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on pan for 5 minutes before moving the cookies, with their attached piece of parchment, to a cooling rack. Allow to cool fully before decorating.
6. Decorate cookies by piping with your favorite decorating icing and then sprinkling with colorful sprinkles. The sky's the limit!
Looking for more gluten-free holiday cookies?
Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies
Gluten Free Gingerbread House
Gluten-Free Christmas Stars
Last-Minute Christmas Treats – Toffee and Ginger Chip Teff Cookies