When you have a special diet, Holidays can become tricky. But a way to cope with that is getting creative. Here are three gluten-free recipes for Christmas.
As someone who has celiac disease, I know Christmas can get tricky for many of us. Too much food to share, but not many gluten-free options. Well, after all these years of coping with a gluten-free diet, I realized that if you get creative with recipes, you will feel less like an alien. So, here are my top three gluten-free recipes for Christmas. Two of them are sweets, and one of them is an appetizer.
Buñuelos (Cassava and Cheese Balls)
Let’s start with something salty. Buñuelos are a traditional Colombian appetizer for Christmas eve, made in some parts of Venezuela. There is no literal translation for buñuelos, but I would name them cassava and cheese balls because that’s pretty much what they are. They are bread-like fried balls made with cassava flour and cheese. That makes them crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
This recipe has many variants. Depending on the region, there might be different ingredients or even ways to do it. So you might find a different recipe if you search on the internet. My recipe is my grandma’s recipe. She is from Bucaramanga, and her mother traditionally made buñuelos with cassava flour and cornstarch. Also, she usually uses a bit of wheat flour, but this is my gluten-free version.
The following is a list of ingredients and measurements we will need. I will also link some of the brands I regularly use:
- 1 1/2 cup of cassava flour.
- 1 1/2 cup of cornstarch.
- 3 cups of grated cheese (We use semi-hard cheese. But you can also use a white cheese option or mozzarella).
- 2 eggs.
- 1 spoon of sugar.
- A pinch of salt.
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
- 1 liter of oil for frying.
Now it is time for the recipe. Let’s do it step by step. The first thing I do is grate the cheese; it is important to make it as thin as possible. The thinner the cheese, the better the final result because it gets well mixed with the flours. After I have the three cups of grated cheese, I usually sift the cassava flour, the cornstarch, and the baking powder. While sifting them, I mix them and put them in the same bowl. Then, I add the grated cheese to that bowl and mix it again. I finally finish with the dry ingredients by adding the sugar and the salt.
Next, mix all the dry ingredients and make a hole in the middle of the mixture. Add the two eggs and start kneading. Note: it might take you quite some time, considering there are more dry ingredients than eggs. So be patient. As soon as the mix is moldable, knead it into balls. It is better if they are little balls, about one inch high per ball.
The next thing I usually do is cover each ball with a bit of cassava so the balls don’t stick to each other. After that, I preheat the oil in a frying pan. Once it is hot, I put the balls in to fry. It is important to fry only a few at the same time so they can thoroughly cook. When they are ready when they float by themselves in the oil, and their color turns orange.
Now, it’s time for something sweet. In the Hispanic culture, Nougats are traditional Christmas sweets. It is a dessert to enjoy on Christmas eve or even a gift to give. It is a sweet mass-like rectangular bar. And it has two versions: one version is with honey, and the other is with chocolate. Its texture is chewy and crunchy.
One version of nougats is typically made with lots of almonds and peanuts, all mixed with a chewy mass of honey or sugar. The other version is usually made with almonds, peanuts, or cereal, all mixed with a chewy mass of chocolate and butter. My favorite option is the second one, so this recipe is for gluten-free chocolate nougats.
These are the ingredients we will need. Again, I linked some of the options I use:
- 50 grams of butter (You can use any gluten-free option).
- 100 grams of dark chocolate.
- 125 grams of milk chocolate.
- 100 grams of puffed rice.
To melt the chocolate, we will use the bain-marie technique. This technique consists of putting a pot with water on the stove and putting another pot with the chocolate in the first pot. Remember to add both chocolates to melt together. The thing with bain-marie is that it allows us to melt the chocolate with great consistency and without burning. Once all the chocolate melts, you can beat it to mix it homogeneously. Then, add the butter and continue mixing until it is homogeneous.
Once it is homogeneous, take it out of the bain-marie and continue beating it. You will have to wait until the mix is warm instead of hot. So, let it cool off a little. Once it is warm, add the cookie pieces or the puffed rice (or the almonds and peanuts) and continue mixing. Finally, put the mix into a silicone mold and let it reach room temperature. And you’re all done!
Gluten-free Christmas Cookies
Who doesn’t love to eat some home-made cookies on Christmas eve, or even on Christmas day? I love it! Also, I love the feeling and the mood of preparing them and decorating them. In a gluten-free Christmas compilation of recipes, Christmas cookies could not be missing!
The thing is that gluten-free cookies can be tricky to prepare. Sometimes they can be very hard or not even have a cookie consistency. However, there are many tips and tricks for gluten-free baking we can use. I previously wrote an article about it. My gluten-free Christmas cookies recipe uses many of those tips. So let’s get started.
Here are the ingredients we will need with my favorite options linked:
- 2 1/4 cups of gluten-free all-purpose flour.
- 1 teaspoon of Xanthan gum.
- A pinch of salt.
- 1 cup of butter softened.
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
- 2 large eggs.
- 3/4 cups of brown sugar.
- 3/4 cups of sugar.
- Frosting to decorate.
Before starting, it is important to soften the butter. Then, in a small bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Those are the flour, the Xanthan gum, and the salt. After mixing those, leave the bowl aside. Then, in a bigger bowl, beat the sugar, the vanilla extract, and the butter until it is creamy. I usually do it with a mixer. Once it is creamy, start adding the eggs, one by one, and mixing it until the mixture is homogeneous again.
Now, we will have a homogenous creamy mix. That is the perfect consistency to start adding the dry mix we did before. Here is one tip:
- Add the dry mix by sifting it in small quantities.
- While you are adding the dry ingredients, beat until the mix is well blended again.
- Continue adding the dry mix.
- Beat everything until you have a moldable dough. You can make little balls with it, or you can stretch it and cut it with molds.
Once you have your dough into the shapes you want them to be, preheat the oven. Depending on your range, you can regulate it to 375°F or more. While it preheats, get your cookies into a mold or a baking sheet. When the oven is hot enough, put your cookies on it and let them bake. It usually takes between 10 and 15 minutes to bake. Once they are ready, get them out and let them freeze at room temperature. Then put some frosting and sprinkles on it, and you are done!
I loved writing this article. I cannot wait to make all these recipes and have a gluten-free merry Christmas. I hope you get motivated to prepare some, or all, of these recipes. Make your holiday incredible without compromising your health. And have a great time cooking what you will eat to celebrate. See you soon!