I’ve begun making my annual Christmas cookies, filling the freezer so when the holidays are here I’ll be ahead of the curve.
It seems that each year some new food allergies have surfaced among those in our family. There are allergies or sensitivities to gluten, wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts and soy. There are also those in our family that follow a vegan diet. For this reason, as I’ve been making each type of cookie this year, I’ve been noting what type of diet it’s suitable for and who can safely indulge in it without worrying about a potential allergic reaction.
Since there are a few family members that have celiac disease or severe allergies to wheat, I automatically make all my holiday cookies gluten-free so there’s no chance of anyone accidentally eating gluten. Most are also dairy-free with the exception of a few that require real butter be used to maintain the integrity of the cookie, and those of us that can’t eat dairy just enjoy the varieties that are dairy-free. I typically make over 20 varieties, a few of which contain peanut butter or almond flour, as nuts had not previously been a problem in our family. I have a niece who was diagnosed this year with a very severe allergy to wheat, peanuts and tree nuts. I wanted to make sure that there are plenty of options for her so decided to create something new!
I had recently heard about a stuffed cookie and that got my wheels turning and my creative juices flowing! For several years I’ve been making Peanut Butter Temptations which is a moist peanut butter cookie with a peanut butter cup encased in the center. There was a time that it had been one of my niece’s favorites.
I got to thinking that it might be good to make a variation of that type, so came up with the idea of a chocolate chip cookie with a fudge center. I really like the moist consistency of the Peanut Butter Temptation but needed it to be nut-free. I decided to give sunflower butter a try. When I’ve eaten sunflower butter in the past, my recollection was that it had a mild flavor; so I thought it would compliment the sweetness of the fudge center and chocolate chips well.
I wanted the fudge center to be solid at room temperature, but soft enough to bite through without breaking or cracking. I decided to use the recipe for Simple Homemade Chocolate from my cookbook; Sweets & Treats: Festive Recipes for the Clean Chocolate Lover, since when molded, it will maintain its shape at room temperature, but is soft enough to bite through. Enjoy Life semi-sweet mini chips would work perfectly as the chocolate chips inside the cookie and assure that they’d be free from dairy, gluten, soy, and nuts.
Since the other cookies had a peanut butter cup in the center, I knew I’d need to make the fudge in a form that I could place in the center as I had done with the peanut butter cup. I decided to use Wilton candy molds to make solid shapes which could be pressed into the center of each cookie.
Since the cookies are for Christmas, I decided that stars would be a festive shape to use, but the possibilities are endless as to what shapes can be used for different occasions; hearts for a bridal shower, butterflies for a spring party, lots of ways to get creative! The cookies ended up coming out delicious and will quite likely join my annual holiday cookie lineup!
Fudge Filled Sunflower Butter Blossoms
Makes about 44-48 cookies
Ingredients for Cookies:
1/2 cup sunflower butter (I use SunButter brand, no sugar added)
1/2 cup Nutiva Shortening
1 cup coconut sugar (I use Big Tree Farms)
1 1/4 Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour
3/4 tsp baking soda (I use Arm & Hammer brand)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbs water
1 cup of Enjoy Life semi-sweet mini chips
Ingredients for Simple Homemade Chocolate:
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 Tbs pure maple syrup
Dash of sea salt
Dash of pure vanilla extract
Directions for Simple Homemade Chocolate:
Mix all ingredients and place in 1/2” Wilton candy molds. Place mold in freezer for a few minutes until chocolate is solid. Pop out of molds and store in freezer in a covered container or a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet until ready to use. These will most likely need to be made in batches, make at least 50 to assure that there’s one for each cookie, the rest of the chocolate may be molded and saved for another use or used to coat fruit.
Directions for Cookies:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl cream sunflower butter, shortening and coconut sugar. Add egg and vanilla and beat until creamy.
In a large measuring cup or bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to creamed mixture. Add 1 Tbs water and beat until a dough is formed that will hold together when rolled into small balls. Add mini chocolate chips.
Roll dough into 3/4” balls and place in Wilton silicon mini muffin pans, small daisy shaped silicon pans or traditional mini muffin tins.
Bake for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned & dry looking. Take reserved molded chocolates from the freezer and immediately press a molded chocolate into the center of each cookie. Let cool completely before removing cookies from pan. I always find they pop out of the molds very nicely if I refrigerate the cookies right in the pans and remove them when they’re cold. Store in an airtight container. These cookies freeze nicely.