Gluten-Free Sweet Gifts
Almost-from-scratch treats bring comfort and joy.
Edible gifts are a delicious way to show people you care. These DIY goodies are quick and easy because they have built-in shortcuts. They contain ready-made items that make them a snap to prepare.
They can also multi-task. Arrange them on a fancy platter for dessert at the end of an elegant meal. Wrap them in pretty bundles for party favors. Pack them in a festive tin for a hostess gift. Cover them in colorful cellophane and tie with raffia for presents for colleagues, friends and neighbors.
All dressed up, these treats are certain to deliver great flavor, as well as welcome holiday cheer.
Festive Petit Fours
MAKES 24 TO 30
Add these delicate, bite-size cakes to your dessert table. People will think you worked all day to make them. Frosting them twice gives them an iridescent sheen and hides any messy crumbs from the first layer of frosting. Decorate with festive green and red ribbons or top with sprinkles.
1 (15-16 ounce) box gluten-free yellow or chocolate cake mix
2 (1-pound) boxes confectioners’ sugar, divided
⅔ cup + 2 tablespoons water, divided
2 teaspoons orange extract, divided
6 tablespoons butter or dairy-free alternative, softened
2 tablespoons organic shortening
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk of choice
-Red & green food coloring
1. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Bake in an 8x8-inch pan. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
2. Trim edges off the sides of the cake and cut it into equal squares (about 1¼ inches each).
3. Place squares a half inch apart on a rack set on a large sheet of parchment paper or on a cookie sheet.
4. Make half the glaze by placing 1 box confectioners’ sugar, 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon water and 1 teaspoon orange extract in a large bowl. Beat on low speed just until blended. Then beat on high until smooth. Using two forks, dip the cake squares in the glaze to coat. Set back on wire rack and let excess glaze drip off. Let dry.
5. Wipe out the glaze bowl to remove any cake crumbs. Make a second batch of glaze by beating remaining glaze ingredients as before. Frost the sides and tops of the squares with a generous amount of glaze. Let harden completely before decorating. (If decorating with balls or sprinkles, decorate before the glaze sets so that they adhere.)
6. To make the decorative frosting, cream butter, shortening and vanilla in a small bowl. Beat in confectioners’ sugar and enough milk to achieve a smooth, spreading consistency. Divide frosting between 2 bowls. Using food coloring, tint one frosting red and the other green. Cut a small hole in the corner of 2 two plastic bags (or use 2 pastry bags with a tip). Fill one with red frosting, the other with green frosting. Decorate cake squares as desired.
Each petit four contains 279 calories, 7 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 36mg cholesterol, 88mg sodium, 54g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 47g sugars, 1g protein, 38 Est GL.
To replace 3 eggs in your cake mix, add 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder to dry ingredients. Combine 2 tablespoons flax meal with 6 tablespoons hot unsweetened applesauce. Let cool. Add this mixture to mix to replace 3 eggs. Results will vary depending on your mix.
Dairy-Free Rum Balls
MAKES 2 TO 3 DOZEN
These are a perfect DIY gift for gluten-free, dairy-free friends over 21. For the younger crowd, replace the rum with orange juice. Store in a covered container in a cool location for a week.
1 cup dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons honey
½ cup rum, orange juice or ⅓ cup orange juice and 2½ tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
2¼ cups crushed gluten-free shortbread cookies (about 11/4 boxes)
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts,* optional
⅓ cup confectioners ’ sugar
1. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate in microwave on medium setting 1 minute, repeating in 20-second increments until most of the pieces are melted.
2. Stir in sugar and honey. Mixture may be lumpy. Add rum and stir. Add cookie crumbs and nuts, if using, and mix well.
3. Chill mixture 1 hour or until it’s hard enough to form into small balls.
4. Roll balls in confectioners’ sugar. Then set them in gold, silver, red and green candy papers and place on candy dishes to serve.
Each rum ball contains 98 calories, 4g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 3mg cholesterol, 10mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 10g sugars, 1g protein, 7 Est GL.
MAKES 14 HAYSTACKS
The combination of sweet chocolate, tart cranberries and salty pretzels will have people coming back for more. Make a double batch so you don’t run out. These keep for 2 weeks in a sealed container at room temperature.
1 cup broken gluten-free pretzel sticks
½ cup dried cranberries, more for garnish
1 (12-ounce) package dairy-free semisweet or dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
2. Place pretzels and cranberries in a bowl and set aside.
3. Place chocolate in a microwavable bowl and microwave on medium heat 1 minute. Stir and heat at 20-second intervals until chocolate is very soft and most of the pieces have melted. The remainder will melt as you stir the mixture.
4. Working quickly, fold pretzels and cranberries into melted chocolate before it hardens. (If chocolate hardens, set the bowl in a larger bowl of hot water and stir a few times to soften.)
5. Scoop mixture by rounded teaspoons and drop onto prepared baking sheet. Let harden.
Each haystack contains 139 calories, 7g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 46mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 16g sugars, 1g protein, 10 Est GL.
Food editor Beth Hillson (bhillson@GlutenFreeAndMore.com) is a chef and cooking instructor. She is founder of Gluten-Free Pantry, one of the first gluten-free companies in the United States, and author of Gluten-Free Makeovers and The Complete Guide to Living Well Gluten Free (Da Capo Lifelong Books).