It’s easy to judge a cookie by its appearance. For every good recipe we share in this space, there’s usually multiple behind-the-scenes failures. Since I’ve always loved peeking behind the scenes (I’m one of those who watches all of those DVD extras — anyone else?), here’s a little back story on this recipe. These cookies are months in the making. The challenge: a tasty, gluten-free cookie with normal sounding ingredients that I might have in my pantry. We created a recipe and photographed it many months ago, but neither of us were crazy about the photos; something was a little bit off. I decided to remake the recipe as Christmas cookies with a ginger cookie twist, and they were a complete bomb (I still have the shakes thinking about them). Luckily, a new idea for chai-spiced snowball cookies surfaced, and after numerous attempts and melted cookies and lots of taste testing and maybe a little cursing, this recipe came to be.
But what came from all the trial and error is a buttery, rich, delicately-spiced cookie that got rave reviews from friends and family alike. The cardamom carries the show — I never realized cardamom is what gives chai spice its familiar zing. Try to get ahold of some ground cardamom for this recipe; and with the leftovers, you’ll may find yourself wanting to add a pinch in all of your baked goods! We’ve used coconut sugar an alternative sweetener that’s still sugary but a bit lower on the glycemic scale (but feel free to sub brown or white sugar). This is our first healthy Christmas cookie recipe of the season, and it’s one I know I’ll be making for Christmases to come.
I will also mention to follow the directions carefully; the cookies are a little different than the normal cookie and we did end up with one melted cookie in each batch since our oven heats a bit unevenly. Please let us know if you try them out; we’re anxious to hear your results!
As a final note, this recipe uses almond flour (ground almonds), which is best store-bought for its light, fluffy texture. Since almond flour can be a little pricey, here’s a coupon for $1 any Bob’s Red Mill brand product. Happy Baking!
Why to Make It: Rich-tasting, spiced Christmas cookie that’s on the healthier side, and gluten-free
When to Make It: The holidays!
Caveats: Read and follow the directions closely below; let us know if you have any questions. And check out the coupon above to invest in almond flour!
For a vegan variation, use 1/4 cup melted, room temperature coconut oil in place of the butter; mix together all ingredients (except powdered sugar) in a bowl with a wooden spoon, then bake at 325°F for 10 minutes. However, the resulting cookie is not as rich and has a more crumbly texture; you may want to consider adding a bit more sugar in this variation to make up for the lost richness.
- 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons coconut sugar (such as Bob’s Red Mill, or substitute white sugar)
- 1 1/4 cup almond flour (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (no substitutions!)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup powdered sugar, for dusting
- In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, mix together butter and sugar until fully combined. Add the remainder of the ingredients (except for the powdered sugar) and mix again until a cohesive dough forms. Turn out onto plastic wrap and shape into a ball; refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (make sure the temperature is true; adjust if your oven runs hotter than normal). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll into approximately 20 1-inch balls, pressing together the dough as necessary where it is crumbly. (Work quickly to avoid soft butter; if desired, refrigerate half of the dough while rolling the first half.)
- Place the cookies onto the baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, turning the pan halfway through for even baking, until the cookies are light golden brown but still soft. (Be careful not to over bake or the cookies may start to lose their shape.) Remove the cookies from the oven and cool them on the pan for 10 minutes (avoid touching; the cookies will solidify as they cool). Once hardened, transfer to a rack to cool completely.
- When completely cool, place ¼ cup powdered sugar on a plate and roll each ball in the sugar until coated.
This post is sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill. All opinions are our own; we’re huge fans of their products and use them often. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who keep A Couple Cooks in action!