Gluten-Free Candy Cane Cookies
When I was a kid, there were a few foods from the holidays that come to mind, and have made it to this blog over the years:
(The first two are my adaptations from memory, the Sauerkraut Balls was a re-creation based on a vague outline of a recipe relayed by my grandmother!).
Then, there were the Nanaimo Bars and Confetti Bars. I don't even associate those with any particular person, maybe it was just whoever got around to it? Those bars were pretty ubiquitous back home in Winnipeg...
Anyway, extended-family contributions aside, there were two sweets I associated with my immediate household: The weird (but awesome) peppermint patties that my maternal host would make. (I later developed my Peppermint Patties around the idea.)... and candy cane cookies.
Everything else has been covered, so it's time to do candy cane cookies!
Given that I can no longer handle gluten, this version of those candy cane sugar cookies is gluten-free... but you'd never know it. As with all of my other Gluten-free Recipes, these were developed from the ground up, rather than being an adapted normal gluten recipe.
I chose the flours, other ingredients, and techniques to work together to produce a cookie that not only tastes great, but also has a great texture. These are butter cookies the way I like them - somewhat soft, rather than crunchy.
There's none of the chalkiness or weird aftertastes generally associated with gluten-free baking. They just taste like Christmas, and are totally suitable for a mixed crowd, as far as gluten allergies go.
How to Make Gluten-Free Candy Cane Cookies
I’ve been told that people don’t like photos in the recipe card itself, so let me go over the technique here, in the post!
Once you’ve made the dough...
Divide and Tint Your Dough
- Divide your dough into 3 pieces: 2 larger balls of about the same size, and one smaller ball (about half the size of the other two).
I find that if I don’t do the green ball much smaller than the other two, the amount of green on the final cookie is overwhelming. At half the amount, it ends up seeming to be an equal amount to the other two, in the end!
- Add food colouring to the balls - red to one of the larger ones, white to the other (optional), and green to the smallest.
When it comes to painting with food colouring, I prefer to use a nice quality gel based colour, such as Americolor (what I used when I was in the USA), or ChefMaster (Which is the option more readily available here!).
If I have some on hand, I’ll add some Americolor White Gel Paste to colour the white piece, but it’s not necessary.
Without white colouring, that part of the dough will be a brownish ivory colour - still totally identifiable as a candy cane, without colouring it white!
- Knead in until colouring is evenly incorporated in each dough ball.
I like to wear nitrile gloves for this step, because gel food colouring is no joke!
Once the doughs are all tinted as you want them, wrap each - separately - in plastic film, chill for 1 hour.
Divide and Conquer!
Preheat oven to 375F, line cookie sheets with parchment paper, and wash your hands!
- Divide each dough ball into 4 equal pieces, and each of those 4 pieces into 4 pieces. You should have 16 pieces of each colour.
You can divide the first 4 pieces each into the next 4 pieces right from the cut state, or you can roll each of the original 4 into long “snakes”, and divide it from there.
When I was first developing and photographing, I miscalculated on how big the cookies were going to be - I thought I was originally going to end up with 16 cookies, not 32.
So, I divided the original 4 into the 16 by rolling, as I thought that was *it* for the dividing. ANYWAY.
Roll Your Candy Cane Cookies!
There are two different techniques you can use here. One will produce a smooth Candy Cane Cookie, and the other will produce a cookie with a fun, rope type texture. (I've got video demonstrating both techniques a bit further down, also!)
Smooth Candy Canes
- Take 1 each of the 3 colours, and roll them out to long snakes of dough, about 10" in length. Aim to get them relatively even in thickness throughout the length of each rope.
- Line the dough up as shown, gently squish together to adhere.
- Roll the joined dough pieces together gently, just to secure and form a single, rounded rope about 11-12" in length.
- Cut your rope into 2 equal lengths of about 6" each.
- Gently twist each length to form the spiral design, then shape into a candy cane shape.
Place on prepared baking sheets as you finish them.
Rope Candy Canes
- Take 1 each of the 3 colours, and roll them out to long snakes of dough, about 12" in length. Aim to get them relatively even in thickness throughout the length of each rope.
- Cut each rope into 2 equal lengths of about 6" each.
- Take one each of the 3 colours of 6" dough rope, stack and gently twist to form the spiral design.
- Shape into a candy cane shape.
Place on prepared baking sheets as you finish them.
Bake Your Christmas Cookies!
Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom.
Cool for 5 minutes or so before transferring them off the pan, allow to cool to room temperature.
Once completely cool store in an airtight container until serving.
Also, if you're interested in gluten-free cooking and baking, you should definitely check out my gluten-free cookbooks: Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten Free Cooking & Baking, and the sequel... Beyond Flour 2. You can order them right here on my website, through Amazon, or through any major bookseller.
More Gluten-Free Cookie Recipes
Looking for more gluten-free cookie recipes that are as good or BETTER than the full-gluten version? Look no further!
Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Cookies
Gluten-Free Chewy Banana Oatmeal Cookies
Gluten-Free Chewy Chocolate Salted Caramel Cookies
Gluten-Free Fig Newtons
Gluten-Free Fruitcake Cookies
Gluten-Free Graham Crackers
Gluten-Free Imperial Cookies
Gluten-Free Oatmeal Butterscotch Cardamom Cookies
Gluten-Free Oatmeal Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies for Decorating
Gluten-Free Unicorn Poop Cookies
Peppermint Swirl Meringue Cookies
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Now, on to that Gluten-Free Candy Cane Sugar Cookies recipe!