Here are the things I worry about when I take my kids to a holiday party: That they’ll smash the host’s favourite ornament, that they won’t be able to resist opening a present under the tree, or that their joy of the season will bubble over and result in what scientists call “losing their sh*t.”
What I don’t worry about is that something they eat could send us to the emergency room. I get a knot in my stomach just thinking about how stressful the holidays must be for parents of kids with allergies. There are so many home-baked treats at holiday get-togethers and each one of them could pose a risk.
With allergies on the rise, I don’t want to be the cause of someone else’s angst. Of course, every kid with allergies is different and talking the menu over with the parents ahead of time is the best way to play it safe. But I’m definitely adding some allergy-sensitive recipes to my holiday roster this year. Here are four of our favourites — and not just because they’re nut-, egg- or dairy-free, but because they’re so good!
Mint Chocolate Truffles
(gluten-free) Prep: 30 min Chill: 2 hours
338 g semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (about 21/3 cups) 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 1/3 cup whipping cream 1 tsp peppermint extract 1/4 cup crushed candy canes
In a medium saucepan, bring 1 in. of water to simmer. Place chocolate, butter and cream in a bowl sitting on top of the saucepan, but not touching the water. Do not cover.
Stir until chocolate has melted, 2 to 3 min. Remove from heat.
Stir in peppermint and pour into a shallow bowl. Cool. Cover and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
Place waxed paper on a baking sheet. Dip a melon baller in warm water and quickly scrape it across the top of the truffle mixture to form a rough 1-in. ball. Place on lined baking sheet. Repeat.
Sprinkle truffles with crushed candy cane bits.
Refrigerate, layered between waxed paper in airtight container, for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Makes 30 truffles. Per truffle: 89 calories, 1 g protein, 7 g fat, 9 g carbs
(nut-, egg-, dairy-free) Prep: 30 min Chill: 2 hours Bake: 16 min
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 cup unsweetened applesauce 1/2 cup canola oil 2 tsp vanilla 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 2 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 1 cup icing sugar
Using an electric mixer, combine granulated sugar, cocoa powder, applesauce, oil and vanilla until well blended.
In another bowl, whisk flour with baking powder and salt.
Add flour mixture to cocoa mixture in 3 parts, mixing each addition well with an electric mixer for a soft, wet batter.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 2 hours. It must be well chilled to roll, so don’t skip this step!
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift icing sugar into a shallow bowl.
Scoop spoonfuls of dough and roll between your hands to make 1 1/2-in. balls.
Roll them in icing sugar until well coated. The more sugar on the outside, the better the effect.
Place on the baking sheets about 2 in. apart.
Bake for 10 min — but check at 8. They should be puffed and just set, so they’ll have a soft, brownie-like texture.
Cool completely on a rack. Repeat with remaining dough.
Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Makes 4 dozen. Per cookie: 83 calories, 1 g protein, 3 g fat, 15 g carbs
(nut-free) Prep: 40 min Bake: 12 min
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1/4 tsp salt 1 cup unsalted butter, softened 2 tbsp block cream cheese, softened 2 tsp vanilla extract
GLAZE 1 tbsp block cream cheese, softened 3 tbsp lemon juice 1 1/2 cups sifted icing sugar 1 1/2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a bowl, whisk flour with sugar and salt. Using an electric mixer, add butter about 1?4 cup at a time until a pebbly mixture forms. Add the 2 tbsp cream cheese and vanilla. Beat until mixture comes together, 1 to 2 min.
Scoop spoonfuls of dough and roll between your hands to make 11?4-in. balls. Place on the sheets at least 1 in. apart.
Bake until slightly firm on top and lightly golden underneath, 12 to 14 min. (Don’t overbake or they’ll be hard.) Cool completely.
While they cool, whisk the 1 tbsp cream cheese with lemon juice (don’t worry if it’s slightly lumpy). Slowly whisk in sifted icing sugar to make a runny glaze. Add a few more drops lemon juice, if necessary.
Spread coconut in a layer on a plate. Swirl each cookie in the glaze so the top is covered; let excess drip off. Press each cookie into the coconut.
Allow to set for 15 min. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Makes 3 dozen. Per cookie: 119 calories, 1 g protein, 7 g fat, 14 g carbs
Maple Walnut Mini Applesauce Cakes
(dairy-free; can be nut-free) Prep: 15 min Bake: 22 min
2 cups spelt flour (available at health-food stores and some supermarkets) 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp salt 3/4 cup maple syrup 1/2 cup safflower oil 2 large eggs 1 cup unsweetened applesauce 1 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Butter an 8-well 3 3/4 x 2 1/2-in. mini loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour with cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk maple syrup with oil. Whisk in eggs, then applesauce and vanilla. Add flour mixture and whisk until well mixed, about 1 min. Stir in walnuts, if using.
Spoon batter into pan. Bake on middle rack until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, 22 to 24 min.
Cool for 10 min. Remove loaves from pan and cool completely on rack. Wrap loaves with plastic. Will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Makes 8 mini-loaves. Per loaf: 268 calories, 6 g protein, 9 g fat, 43 g carbs
Visit sweetpotatochronicles.com for more recipes and advice on feeding your family (with a little fun and gossip thrown in).
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