I have wanted to make these cookies for two years now, and though most of our Advent plans have been cancelled or extremely simplified due to moving and settling in and catching a nasty cold, I did find time to mess around with Jessica's starlight cookies to make them gluten-free (and dairy and egg-free alternatives too).
It was so simple to do and quick to make up multiple jars (as long as you have all the ingredients unlike me!). Jessica's is so much prettier but the cookies are super yummy. Here's my version of starlight cookies.
Place these items in a jar (I used pint and a half jars that I bought and have seen locally at big box stores). Ignore my photo and put the ingredients in this order:
- 1/2 cup walnuts (or nuts of choice - macadamia would be divine).
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips (dairy free - try chunking these bars or making this recipe - which by the way is an awesome "health-friendly" dessert blog).
- 1/2 cup craisins (Jessica used dried cranberries).
- 1/3 cup brown sugar.
- 1/3 cup white sugar.
- 1/2 cup gluten-free oats.
- The flour mix (whisk separately and then add to the jar): 1 1/4 cup gluten-free flour mix + 1/2 tsp. baking soda + 1/2 tsp. salt + 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum. **My gluten-free flour mix for baking is 4 cups superfine brown rice flour + 1 1/3 cup potato starch + 2/3 cup tapioca starch. A good pre-made mix is Pamela's baking and pancake mix (NOT dairy free) or Namaste Food's perfect gluten-free mix (this already has xanthan gum so do not add the 1/2 tsp. from the recipe).
To make the cookies, cream together 1/2 cup butter, 1 egg, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Stir in dry mix and blend thoroughly. I thought the batter was way too dry, especially for gluten-free baking, so I added 1/4 cup. milk.
**To make egg-free, I used Ener-G egg replacer successfully.
**To make dairy-free, sub Spectrum shortening for the butter and alternative milk for the milk (I used coconut milk successfully). In searching I saw this butter flavored Spectrum shortening. I have not seen this in my little local stores so I will definitely have to order it and try!!! (Ok, I just did so I could use it for frosting Christmas cookies.)
To bake, have oven pre-heated to 350. Plop cookie mix down spoonfuls. Bake about 16 minutes or until brown on the edges. I tend to be cautious and check early since gluten-free cookies can get dry so fast. When it's done it'll be a bit brown on the edge but still look a smidge wet in the center. That's ok because you'll let it cool for 5 minutes or so on the pan and then move to a cooling rack.
Last, enjoy! I don't eat cookies often and these were incredibly over-the-top sweet. You could probably reduced the sugar a smidge and no one would be the wiser.
To make it prettier I cut a circlish shape out of a pretty sky fabric (I had very limited choices) and used a Christmas sparkly thin garland to wrap around the lid and to hold the instructions. I used Jessica's instructions as inspiration to make more of a story. You can download and print here. Simply print front to back, cut and fold. Here is the story instructions I wrote:
Long ago, St. Joseph and our Blessed Mother prepared for a journey to Bethlehem.
(Prepare for the cookies: preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease cookie sheets or use parchment paper).
They remembered the angel Gabriel’s message: that Mary was to be mother to baby Jesus, God’s own son. He will be the light of heaven on earth, a baby born to save the nations.
(Think of the light of heaven: cream together ½ c. of butter, 1 egg, and 1 tsp. vanilla in a medium bowl until fluffy.)
The journey to Bethlehem was a difficult one. The road was rocky as they passed through the brown hills of Bethlehem. Yet, under the clear multitude of stars, they traveled on, passing shepherds in the field. Time and again, doors were shut on them as they asked for shelter for the night. Soon, however, they came to a lowly stable, inhabited by a handful of animals, and there, in that stable, Jesus was born.
(The dry cookie mix represents their difficult journey. Add this to the bowl, adding no more than ¼ c. milk if mixture is too dry.)
How wonderful to think of baby Jesus’ birth! How special that moment must have been, and yet, we remember that this is no ordinary baby. No, indeed! This is Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, who was prophesied to live among us, loved by many, hated by many, and who was to die on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.
(Take a moment and remember the hardships of Jesus’ life on earth and on His Passion on the Cross. Spoon cookies onto pan, and bake for 15-16 minutes or until the edges brown.)
Christmas is not only a time to remember and celebrate Jesus’ birthday, but also a time to remember that He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. Oh happy day! Let us now anticipate that day.
(Allow cookies to cool on pan for 3-4 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool.)
Our simple story of a journey and a humble birth has ended. Go now and appreciate the joy and promise of His birth.
(Eat the cookies – and enjoy!)
I hope this helps someone! We used these as our CCD gifts this year and I have a jar set aside for the kids and I to bake up on Christmas Eve while we wait for Mass.