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Friday, September 22, 2023


Allergy-friendly cookies to keep holidays safe and fun

Navigating holiday meals with food allergies can be difficult. Here’s a list of four festive holiday cookies so you and your loved ones can enjoy safely this season. | Renee Josse De Lisle/The Cougar

The holidays are a festive season to gather with family and friends, whether in-person or over Zoom. While celebrations may look different during a pandemic, they are bound to include a spread of festive foods, from caramel corn to Christmas cookies

But for those with food allergies, the festivities may be more fear-inducing than fun. Here’s a list of four holiday cookie recipes so you and your family can indulge safely this holiday season. 

And remember, even if you don’t have a food allergy, be mindful of cross-contamination, where an allergy-free food comes into contact with a potentially harmful one. Due diligence during food preparation ensures everyone can enjoy your baked goods safely. 

Nut-free: Thumbprint cookies

This versatile sugar cookie dough can be indented with a thumb or spoon and then topped with your filing of choice. The possibilities are endless!

For the holidays, you can experiment with seasonal flavors. Like adding crushed peppermint on top of a chocolate thumbprint cookie filled with chocolate ganache. Not only does the red and white candy make a pretty topper, but the freshness of the mint plays off the richness in the ganache. 

If you prefer fruity desserts, try filling the cookies with a berry jam or orange marmalade. . 

Gluten-free: White chocolate gingerbread cookies

The soft, white chocolate chunk-studded cookie is the chewy cousin of the traditional holiday gingersnap.

Instead of having to wait for the cookies to cool before they can be dipped in white chocolate and set, the white chocolate chunks in these cookies create a sweetness that counters the spice of the ginger without hassle or wait time. 

You can try the recipe with different gluten-free flours to find a texture that you prefer. If you want a cookie that’s soft and dense, try an almond flour. Looking for a chewy, crumbly cookie? Try oat flour. And if you desire a light, cakelike cookie, give coconut flour a go.

Dairy-free: Italian anise cookies

The traditional Italian cookie is flavored with anise extract, which creates a subtle licorice taste. While licorice can be a love it or hate it flavor, these cookies are a far cry from black jelly beans or licorice whips. The cookies are also sweetened with vanilla to counter the spice’s bitterness. 

If you’re looking for even more sweetness, generously apply the cookie’s sweet vanilla glaze once they’re cooled.  

A balance of sweet and bitter, the cookie is also a balance of softness and crunch. The crunch of tiny sprinkles contrasts with the soft, pillowy texture of the cookie.  

Egg-free: Shortbread snowballs

This basic shortbread dough carries innumerable possibilities for experimenting with different ingredients and flavors. The only must? A dusting of powdered sugar to give the cookies their snowball appearance. 

This recipe calls for chocolate chips, but you could also play with seasonal flavors. Try them with cranberry and orange extract, substitute the regular chocolate chips for white chocolate or add a sprinkle of cinnamon and ginger. 

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