Busy Baking For An Allergy Friendly 2012 Christmas

As much as I am enjoying adapting and baking along with The Toronto Star’s 2012 Cookie Calendar Countdownit is time I started baking and stocking up on some of my family’s most requested allergy friendly baking for Christmas.

Michael has long finished his favourite…Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Gingerbread Men and just the other week, Matthew put in his two cents worth of hinting, “I think it is time for Chocolate Chip Snowball Cookies.”…he is right.

Today I will be busy baking up some Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Sugar Cookies for Matthew’s Geography class…each student is to bring in a food representing a part of their culture…a shortbread cookie represents Matthew’s Scottish heritage on my father’s side. (The teacher has requested that all food be peanut/tree nut free…however, due to cross-contamination issues, Matthew does not feel comfortable eating any of the treats his friends will be bringing in for the lunch. He will be bringing his own lunch.)

I will use half the batter to bake the Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Sugar Cookie cut outs dipped in chocolate (melted Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips)…while the other half will have Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips added to the batter to be baked into Matthew’s favourite cookie…Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chip Snowballs.

Next on my list of baking…the over ripened bananas. Perfect for everyone’s favourite Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Banana Bundt Cake and Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Banana Bran Muffins . Both will satisfy all the hungry eaters I will have over the Christmas holidays. (Muffins can be frozen and then reheated in the microwave for a quick snack or addition to breakfast.)

I am hosting our family’s Allergy Friendly Christmas Dinner this year…although it is a lot of prep and work…I relish the thought of doing it all in my own kitchen, with my own kitchen supplies, and minus the travelling.

I hope to bake my Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Yule Log for our Christmas dessert…if time runs out, I can always pick up a frozen Guardian Angel Chocolate Yule Log at my local Metro which is free of peanut/tree nuts, dairy and eggs.

I hope to post photos along the way…stay tuned!

How are your plans for an allergy free holidays going this season?

2012 Christmas Santa on tree

Merry Christmas!

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The Toronto Star 2012 Cookie Calendar Countdown: Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Shortbread Cookies

The Toronto Star’s 2012 Day 16 Cookie for the Cookie Calendar Countdown is no ordinary Shortbread Cookie…this recipe has a heritage.

Not only was Cathy Kehoe’s grandmother, Mary Ethyl Hare, creator of this Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookie but she was also the Private Secretary to R.S. McLaughlan, founder of General Motors. As I live in a neighbouring city of General Motors Canada…I felt it was fitting to whip up a batch. Click here for the original recipe at The Toronto Star.

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Shortbread Cookies

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Shortbread Cookies

I enjoyed the caramel taste the brown sugar lends to the cookie. I also prefer my shortbread to be a little more browned than most…just like my mom…so I made sure to bake some a little longer.

I adapted the recipe to be dairy free by replacing the butter with Earth Balance Buttery Vegan Sticks (for a soy free recipe use Earth Balance Soy Free Natural Buttery Spread). I cut the recipe in half and found that I needed to up the temperature to 350 F in order to bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes…depending on the size of the cut out and the thickness of the dough.  (Not sure if it was a misprint to preheat the oven and bake the cookies at 300 F)

I hope you are all enjoying my adaptations…any favourites so far?

The Toronto Star’s Day 12 Cookie Calendar Countdown: Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free ‘Sugar Plum Oat Fairy Cookies’

I was sooo excited to see The Toronto Star’s Day 12 Cookie Calendar Countdown Cookie…Jae Steele’s Gluten-Free Thumbprint Cookies…a cookie that was already dairy and egg free!

Love the name…’Sugar Plum Fairy Cookies’…plum jam is one of my favourites!

I knew this was a cookie I definitely wanted to try. Click here for the original recipe from The Toronto Star.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten how hard it would be to find brown rice flour let alone find one that was free of my son’s allergens…dairy, egg, sesame and peanut/tree nuts. I had no such luck…so I opted for oat flour.

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free ‘Sugar Plum Oat Fairy Cookies’

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free 'Sugar Plum Fairy Cookie'

Combining three of my favourite flavours…cinnamon, oats and plum jam…I loved them!

In the end, I did need to adapt Jae’s recipe…I needed to increase the oat flour to 2 1/2 cups…it was still a bit wet and sticky but much more easily manageable. I also switched the nutmeg to ground ginger as a personal preference. I baked the cookies for 10 minutes, then indented them with my thumb and added the 1/2 tsp of plum jam and baked them for a further 6-8 minutes. I baked half the recipe at 350 F in the same manner as the above with similar results.

Who does not love the combination of cinnamon, oats and chocolate!

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free 'Sugar Plum Fairy Cookie' with Chocolate

Try sprinkling in Enjoy Life’s Chocolate Chips for a kid friendly option!

Tip 1: For those that can tolerate wheat free oats…I found Chateau Cream Hill Estates product, Lara’s Whole Grain Oat Flour. Right on the front of the package it reads, “FREE OF: Wheat, Barley, Rye Triticale, Spelt and Kamut.” On the side panel, is an advisory stating that “Current scientific literature suggests that the majority of people with celiac disease can tolerate eating limited amounts of pure and uncontaminated oat flour…” ending with “Please check with your doctor and/or dietician before introducing oats into your diet.” Click here for a link to their website to read more about their products.

Tip 2: One can always make their own oat flour by processing whole oats in a food processor until a fine ground.

Tip 2: Incidentally, finding the Greaves Plum Jam was not hard for me to find…MacMillans Orchards in Ajax sells many varieties of Greaves products. My personal favourite plum jam, as well as my mother’s, is Mirabelle Plum by St. Dalfour. Their no sugar added jams are only sweetened with concentrated grape juice and are gluten-free.

I made some specifically for my mother to enjoy over the holiday season using St. Dalfour’s Mirabelle Plum Jam.

I will have to tuck them away to keep me from eating them!

P.S. Have you been following along with Jennifer Bain’s Cookie Calendar Countdown in The Toronto Star? Have you tried any of the cookies? What types of cookies entice you to bring out the bakeware? Would you consider adapting a recipe to suit your food allergens or do you prefer to buy prepackaged allergen friendly baked goods? Would love to hear from you!

The Toronto Star’s 2012 Cookie Calendar Countdown: Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free ‘100 Good Cookies’

I have to admit…everything about the Toronto Star’s 2012 Day 9 Cookie Calendar Cookie grabbed my attention.

For starters, the name itself…’100 Good Cookies’…piqued my interest.

Secondly, there were the interesting ingredients…both butter (or non-dairy alternative such as Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks or Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Spread) and vegetable oil are required, cream of tartar, as well as a fun mix of oatmeal, rice krispies and coconut.

Thirdly, once again the timing of this recipe is stellar! Ever since both the boys tested negatively for coconut on their allergy skin testing, I have been looking for a recipe to introduce coconut…bingo!

Attention:  Anaphylaxis Canada does not include coconut as a tree nut, although they can cause allergic reactions. Therefore, consult with your allergist. Click here for a link to Anaphylaxis Canada’s list of top food allergens.

However, the actual selling point for me was the story…I love a recipe with a good story!

The recipe for 100 Good Cookies was sent in to the Toronto Star by Joyce Stephenson of Oakville. “Here is my favourite cookie,” the article states. “It is not fancy, not particularly Christmas-y, not exotic-but this recipe makes the best cookies you will ever taste. Every time I make them, people just gobble them up and want the recipe.”

Sold!

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free ‘100 Good Cookies’

A plate of Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free '100 Good Cookies'

I adapted the original recipe to meet my boys’ food allergies…I replaced the butter with Earth Balance Vegan Sticks (for a soy free recipe use Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Spread), and the egg with 2 tbsp of water added just before the canola oil and an extra 1/2 tsp baking soda to the flour mixture. Click here for the original recipe in the Toronto Star.

After baking up a few sheets of cookies, I tried one. I felt it was missing something…pure vanilla. I added about 1 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla to the remaining batter…they still needed something. Matthew and I both couldn’t taste the coconut, so I added a bit more coconut to some of the batter…both Matthew and I agreed we liked this version the best. Michael could not tell the difference…he liked them both.

My taste testers (with no food allergies), Victoria and William, enjoyed them…even Victoria who is not a coconut fan!

Topped with dab of Dairy Free Vanilla Icing and sprinkled with toasted coconut…

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free '100 Good Cookies'

…creates a festive touch for Christmas!

Tip 1: Next time, I would add 2 tsp of pure vanilla and at least another 1/2 – 3/4 cup of unsweetened desiccated coconut.

Tip 2:  I made the cookies slightly more than 1 tsp and baked the cookies for approximately 10 minutes.

The Toronto Star’s 2012 Cookie Calendar Countdown: Day 3: Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Date Drop Cookies

My BFF, Anne, is here visiting from Calgary…one thing we have in common is a love for dates.

It was serendipity when I read The Toronto Star’s Day 3 Cookie Calendar Cookie was Geoff Fleming’s Great-Grandmother’s family recipe from Germany…Date Drop Cookies. Click here for the original recipe at The Toronto Star.

“Oh, you have to make them!”, exclaimed Anne. So we did!

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Date Drop Cookies

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Date Drop Cookies

Oh my gosh…delicious! Each one is a Ittle nugget of yumminess!

I replaced the butter with Earth Balance Vegan Sticks (for a soy free version replace butter wit Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Spread ), the egg with 1/4 cup cinnamon applesauce and omitted the walnuts.

“Aren’t you glad I made you make them”, Anne announced. “Oh my, yes!”…Anne knows me only too well!

Unfortunately, I could not interest the boys…my husband, Andy, on the other hand, couldn’t keep his hand out of the ‘proverbial cookie jar!’ He justified himself by stating, “But they’re so small”!

If you love dates as much as we all do…this is a must try recipe…sure to please those with or without dairy, egg, soy and/or peanut/tree nut allergies!

My parting gift for Anne…

A package of Dairy, Egg. Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Date Drop Cookies for Anne

…a package of Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Date Drop Cookies to tide her over on her flight home.

If you are wild about dates…you may want to try my Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Date Squares that I made Anne last year. Click here for the recipe.

Tip:  Next batch will be made with whole wheat flour…I think it will complement the richness of the dates similar to my Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Date Squares.

The Toronto Star’s 2012 Cookie Calendar Countdown: Day 1: Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Diwali Chai Snickerdoodle

So excited…Jennifer Bain, Toronto Star Food Editor’s 2012 Cookie Calendar Countdown has begun. Click here to learn more.

Day 1 was Ajitha Cyriac’s ‘chai inspired cookies’ she adapted from a Snickerdoodle recipe to please her four kids. Click here for her original adapted recipe in the Toronto Star.

I further adapted her adaptation to please my own boys’ food allergies.

Dairy, Egg, and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Diwali Chai Snickerdoodle Cookies

A plate of Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Diwali Chai Snickerdoodle Cookies

I replaced the butter with Earth Balance Vegan Sticks, (for a soy free version use Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Spread) replaced the eggs with 1/2 tsp of baking soda added to the dry ingredients and 2 tbsp of water added along with the pure vanilla and omitted the pistachios.

The timing was perfect…I had a houseful of hungry boys still around from Matthew’s birthday sleepover party…eager to try cookies.

After a lunch of leftover pizza…the boys tried one. Matthew liked them…Michael made a face after the first bite…Carson thought they had a nice buttery aftertaste and William thought they would be more suited to adults as they were not very sweet.

That evening, Andy and I had the pleasure of attending a Christmas party at our friends house. Our hostess has two boys who are also not too fond of ‘Indian sweets’ as Ajitha was quoted in the Toronto Star.

I packaged up the Dairy, Egg, and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Diwali Chai Snickerdoodle Cookies to bring as part of my hostess gift.

Hostess gifts: Package of Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Diwali Chai Snickerdoodle Cookies and Glass Urn with Pomegrante and Greenery

She was thrilled to receive her special hostess gifts.

In addition to the Dairy, Egg, and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Diwali Chai Snickerdoodle Cookies, I decided to bake some kid friendly cookies that I know both my boys love at Christmas time…Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Gingerbread Men.

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Gingerbread Men

One can never go wrong with Gingerbread Men…they are irresistible.

Four packages of Dairy, Egg, Soy and Gingerbread Men Cookies

Therefore, I made up 4 packages as there was another family attending the party with their two girls. Their mother was pleasantly surprised!

I am looking forward to adapting more of Jennifer Bain’s Cookie Calendar Treats as the month continues. Stay tuned!

Have you started your holiday baking? What are your favourite family go-to holiday cookies? Are you following along with The Toronto Star’s Cookie Calendar Countdown?