Cookie Monster: Our Favorite Healthy Holiday Cookies

Holiday cookies are everywhere this time of year, and no doubt you want to have a few — or an entire tin. The good news is that cookies don’t have to be all bad. Instead, you can add health-focused ingredients, like antioxidant powerhouses matcha green tea and cocoa powder, fiber-rich chestnut and almond flour, and inflammation tamers like ginger and cinnamon.

Chocolate Chai Ganache-Stuffed Almond Macaron Sandwiches

Makes 10 cookie sandwiches

Ingredients:

For the Sucanat or Coconut Sugar Confectioners’ Sugar:

1 cup sucanat or coconut sugar blended together with 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder

For the Macarons:

2 large egg whites

1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

1 cup sucanat confectioners’ sugar (recipe above)

1 cup ground blanched almonds

For the Ganache:

1/4 cup coconut cream

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Pinch of ground allspice

Pinch of salt

Directions:

Make the macarons: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites and almond extract on medium speed until foamy.

Gradually add the sucanat confectioners’ sugar and whisk on high speed until stiff and shiny peaks form, about 8 minutes more; fold in the almonds.

Spoon into a large resealable bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip and pipe out cookies about 1 inch apart. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheet set over a wire rack.

Make the ganache: In a small saucepan, bring the coconut cream just to a boil over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, place the chocolate, cloves, allspice and salt in a small bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, let sit for 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth.

Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.

Matcha Maple Meringue Kisses

Makes 20

Ingredients:

2 large egg whites

Pinch of cream of tartar

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup maple sugar

1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and salt; continue whisking for 1 minute.

Gradually add the maple sugar and whisk until stiff and shiny peaks form, about 8 minutes more. Fold in the matcha green tea powder until just incorporated.

Spoon into a large resealable bag fitted with a 1/2-inch tip and pipe out kisses about 1 inch apart.

Decrease the oven temperature to 200 degrees F and bake until kisses are dry to the touch and can be easily removed from the parchment paper, about 1 hour.

Let cool completely on the baking sheet set over a wire rack.

Soft Big Gingerbread-Chestnut Cookies

Makes 10

Ingredients:

For the Gluten-Free Flour Blend:

3 cups (435 grams) white rice flour

1 1/2 cups (187 grams) tapioca flour

3/4 cup (123 grams) potato starch

1 tablespoon (8 grams) xanthan gum

1 1/2 teaspoons (5 grams) salt

For the Cookies:

1 cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend (recipe above)

2 tablespoons chestnut flour

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup softened unsalted butter

1/2 cup sucanat

1 large egg, at room temperature

2 tablespoons molasses

1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger, optional

Directions:

Make the flour blend: In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, xanthan gum and salt.

Make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour blend, chestnut flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves and salt. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sucanat until light and fluffy.

Beat in the egg and molasses. Gradually add in the flour mixture until combined; stir in the ginger.

Using a 1 3/4-inch scoop, place the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate-Orange Amaretti Cookies

Makes 18

Ingredients:

For the Sucanat or Coconut Sugar Confectioners’ Sugar:

1 cup sucanat or coconut sugar blended together with 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder

For the Cookies:

1 1/3 cups almond flour

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 cup sucanat or coconut sugar

1/4 cup sucanat confectioners’ sugar (recipe above)

Pinch of salt

2 large egg whites, lightly beaten

1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest

1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract

1/8 teaspoon pure orange extract

Sliced almonds, for coating

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cocoa powder, sucanat, sucanat confectioners’ sugar and salt. Add the egg whites, zest, almond extract and orange extract; whisk until combined.

Place some sliced almonds in a small bowl. Working one at a time, drop heaping teaspoons of dough into the sliced almonds and gently roll to coat, forming a ball.

Place about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet and bake until set on the outside but still chewy on the inside, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheet set over a wire rack.

Strawberry Chia Jam Cornmeal Thumbprint Cookies

Makes 12

Ingredients:

For the Jam:

One 10-ounce bag frozen strawberries, defrosted and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons whole chia seeds

For the Gluten-Free Flour Blend:

3 cups (435 grams) white rice flour

1 1/2 cups (187 grams) tapioca flour

3/4 cup (123 grams) potato starch

1 tablespoon (8 grams) xanthan gum

1 1/2 teaspoons (5 grams) salt

For the Sucanat or Coconut Sugar Confectioners’ Sugar:

1 cup sucanat or coconut sugar blended together with 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder

For the Cookies:

1 cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend

2 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sucanat confectioners’ sugar (recipe above)

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Make the jam: In a small saucepan, cook the strawberries with the maple syrup over medium-high heat until reduced and thickened slightly, 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the chia seeds. Let cool completely.

Make the flour blend: In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, xanthan gum and salt.

Make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour blend, cornmeal and salt.

In a large bowl and using a fork, cream together the butter and sucanat confectioners’ sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla. Gradually stir in the flour-cornmeal mixture until combined.

Using a 1 1/2-inch scoop, place the dough on the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart; refrigerate for about 15 minutes.

Bake for 10 minutes and remove from the oven; carefully use your thumb to make an indent in the center of each cookie and fill with jam until about three-quarters full. Bake for about 10 minutes more; let cool on a wire rack.

Head over to Holiday Central for more festive inspiration and recipes:

50 No-Bake Treat Recipes

Traditional Christmas Favorites

Merry Christmas Brunch Favorites

Turn 1 Store-Bought Ingredient Into 3 Easy Apps

Silvana Nardone is the author of the Silvana’s Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen: Timeless Favorites Transformed.

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