Gettin' down with real food.

Dark & Delicious: My Three (Gluten-Free) Christmas Cookie Recipes

The fog and rain have cast a moody tone over the decorated streets and glittering houses leading up to Christmas day. In Wisco, this is far from ordinary winter weather, but I'm not complaining a bit. I've never been attached to classic or traditional when it comes to the holidays. I like shaking things up.

Not to mention these skies are the perfect complement to my Christmas cookie repertoire. Each of my three sweet picks this year features dark chocolate and espresso powder; no cookie cutters, no icing or food coloring here. These recipes come together quickly, making them perfect for that last-minute urge to bake up something scrumptious and pretty to share with friends and fam. Whether your holidays are a little offbeat or beautifully routine, there's always room for a little chocolate in that Christmas spread. 

Three Gluten Free Christmas Cookies |

Vegan Dark Chocolate Espresso Truffles

The first recipe is one I've made three years running. It's vegan, gluten-free and grain-free, a total crowd pleaser with deep cocoa flavor that melts in your mouth as a hint of roasted espresso flavor lingers in the background. It just might be that one perfect bite of dessert you crave after a rich holiday meal.  They're red wine's best friend and will make you some quick pals too when you gift them in a little tin tied with a bright red ribbon.  


  • 8 ounces dark chocolate (at least 70 percent cacao), chopped
  • 1/4 cup organic unrefined coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, for rolling


  1. Melt chocolate on the stove over medium heat with oil and the water stirring constantly. Remove from hear and stir in vanilla, sea salt. Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish, and refrigerate until mixture is set but still pliable, about 2 hours.

  2. Using a 1-inch ice-cream scoop or regular metal spoon, scoop out 28 portions, using hands to roll into balls to make smooth. Roll in cocoa powder to create a swirled effect as shown. Refrigerate on sheet 10 minutes before serving. Truffles can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

Coconut Pistachio Macaroons

The next recipe is a new one for me. It comes from Mark Bittman via New York Times Cooking and it's SO good. I love a classic macaroon, but these nuggets of joy step things up to a whole other level. The creamy, rich coconut cookie is studded with pistachios and then half-dipped in the same chocolate used to make the truffles above. Hide a few for yourself or you'll never even get a taste. 


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ½ cup chopped pistachios
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 egg whites, lightly beaten until just foamy
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Mix in egg whites and vanilla with a rubber spatula or your hands  until fully incorporated.

  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wet your hands and grab small piles of the mixture (1 to 2 tablespoons each) packing into nuggets that hold together. Place on baking sheet about an inch apart. Bake until firm to the touch and lightly browning on edges, about 15 minutes.Cool cookies on a rack for at least 30 minutes . Dip cooled cookies halfway in dark chocolate truffle mixture (above) while chocolate is still warm and set on parchment to dry/harden. Macaroons keep well in a covered container for up to 3 days

Chunky Oat n' Cocoa Haystacks

The final cookie is just the right mix of naughty and nice. Sugary enough to win over the kids but virtuous enough (thanks to oats and dark chocolate) to justify having a second one. Gluten-free if you use GF Oats. A kiss of almond extract is my secret weapon here. 


  • 1 ⅓ cups plus 1 tablespoon rolled oats
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk
  •  Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ cup finely grated coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread rolled oats on a baking sheet and toast for 20 minutes, until slightly darker and toasty smelling. Remove from heat.

  2. Line some free counter space with parchment or wax paper. In a saucepan, combine sugar, butter, cocoa powder, evaporated milk and salt and bring to a boil, stirring consistently. Remove from heat once boiling and stir in vanilla and almond extracts, oats and coconut.

  3. Immediately drop the warm mixture by scant tablespoons onto parchment or wax paper to create little "haystacks." Allow to cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Merry Christma-hannu-kwanza-kah to all... and to all a good feast! 

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins with Gooey Peanut Butter Filling (Gluten Free!)

With visions of maple glazed ham, warm cheesy dips, sparkly cutout cookies, and bourbon-spiked eggnog dancing in our heads, now for something completely different... 


I've been cooking a lot lately, mostly things to give as gifts, and dreaming of posting about all of it: my beloved granola with dried cranberries and dark chocolate chunks, cute hot chocolate stir sticks replete with mini candy canes, infused booze of several shades and flavors, walnut-studded rum balls, and hearty mason-jarred beef and barley chili. 

But what finally drove me to sit down and write a post were these humble little muffins that emerged from my oven today as a result of some crazy ripe bananas wafting their sweet boozy potpourri cloud through the kitchen. I wanted to bake something to enjoy after a rich holiday meal or with Christmas morning coffee: a not-too-sweet almond flour pillow chock full of the good stuff: chocolate, banana and peanut butter. Obviously I had to test one to make sure they weren't poison, and it was love at first bite: the perfect balance of roasty banana and rich chocolate, with a background of vanilla and almond and a gooey peanut butter center to steal the show. Almond flour's texture is unbeatable when it comes to hearty baked goods like muffins and breads, I completely prefer it over wheat flour. The dense, moist crumb on these babies cries out for a glass of milk... and a second muffin. 

chocolate  banana muffins with peanut butter filling (GF)

Merry Christmas Eve Eve everyone. I hope you have the most wonderfilled and joyful holiday season. Remember to look around and breathe deeply. Say "mmm" as you savor all those special holiday dishes and "ahh" when you see the glow of Christmas lights. As we steep ourselves in family time and food, let's be grateful for and awed by LOVE and all of the ways it manifests itself in our lives - at Christmas and every day after.

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins with Gooey Peanut Butter Filling (Gluten Free)

Recipe adapted from Comfy Belly Blog
Makes 12 muffins


  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (or melted coconut oil, butter, etc.)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour or almond meal (I used unblanched)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and line muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Mix honey, oil, eggs, vanilla and banana together in a bowl until well blended.
  3. Mix baking soda, salt, flour, and cocoa in a separate bowl and add to the wet ingredients and mix well again. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour batter evenly into lined muffin tins. Using a spoon, plop 1/2 tablespoon of peanut butter into the center of each muffin.
  5. Bake muffins for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.
  6. Store at room temperature for up to three days or in the fridge for a few weeks, or freeze for safekeeping. Enjoy at least one while still warm.
chocolate  banana muffins with peanut butter filling (GF)