“I have a friend who is new to the gluten free diet.  She wanted to do these Candy Cane Cookies for her family at Christmas.  Needless to say, these traditional favorites are not the same when you make them gluten free.  If you can help my friend, Charlotte, I would appreciate it.  Thank you,” writes Marie from Maryland.

Marie sent me the original recipe from a Gold Medal Flour cookbook.  Initially I thought the gluten-free version of the cookies would not be sturdy enough to maintain its shape without crumbling.  Isn’t that always the challenge when making gluten-free baked goods?  Then I remembered a recipe I made over last year for Spritz cookies.  I remembered the challenge was finding a blend and a balance of ingredients that created structure but still tasted delicious and was not crumbly.  The problem is that Cut Out cookies, Spritz cookies and Candy Cane cookies spread and lose their shape if you make them following a one-to-one substitution.  I needed a special blend, a delicate balance.

So what I did it.  I added a little more flour blend than the original recipe calls for (about 2 tablespoons more) just as I had for the Spritz cookies.  And I added ¼ cup additional confectioners’ sugar.  It not only adds more sweetness but also, the added cornstarch helps add structure.

The result was these light, rich, cookies that are both sturdy and delicate.  They are fun to make so invite extras into the kitchen to help form the canes.    Enjoy!

Candy Cane Cookies
Makes 40 to 48 cookies

1 cup white rice flour
¾ cup sorghum flour
½ cup cornstarch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (or dairy-free substitute)
½ cup (1 stick) Earth Balance or other organic shortening
1 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg
1½ teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon red food coloring*
½ cup crushed candy cane candy
½ cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 3 to 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine rice flour, sorghum flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, and salt. Whisk to combine. Sift and set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter, shortening, confectioners’ sugar, and egg until fluffy.  Add flavorings and beat briefly to combine.  Add the flour mixture and beat briefly to combine.  Divide dough in half.  Blend food coloring into one half.

Roll a 4-inch strip (using 1 teaspoon of dough) from each color.  Roll the strips back and forth to smooth the surface then place strips side by side and press together lightly.  Twist like a rope by rolling together or twisting like a rope.  Experiment to see which method works best for you.  Just be careful not to blend the two strands or the candy cane cookies will look more marbled than twisted.

Place on prepared cookie sheets.  Curve the top down to form the handle of the cane.  Bake 9 minutes, until lightly browned.  While still warm, sprinkle with candy-sugar mixture.   Cool completely before storing.

*Natural food coloring is available through IndiaTree.com

TIP:  Instead of crushed peppermint candy and granulated sugar, dust with red or green sanding sugar when the cookies come out of the oven.

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  1. I clipped tis for next year, it looks so cute. I love to read your commentary on how you come up with your substitutions. Don’t you just love sorghum? It really improves the texture. I can’t live without sorghum and Teff. The first good bread I ever had after I was diagnosed in 96 was GF Pantry White Sandwich Bread. I still buy that mix to make my hamburger buns! Thanks

    • Hi Gloria, These are so much fun to make. I can’t believe how easy and tasty they were. It sounds like we go back a ways – – GFP Sandwich Bread. I still love that product, too. Happy Baking. Beth

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