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Star Cookies

gluten-free paleo star cookies holiday recipe

These gluten free vegan holiday cookies are a fun project for Hanukkah, Christmas and Santa Lucia.

Last week, the boys’ Waldorf school, Shining Mountain had a Santa Lucia celebration. What is Santa Lucia, you ask – a pre-Christian feature of modern day Catholicism; a mid-winter festival of light on one of the longest nights of the year. Lucia translates to Lucy, which means light, as in lucid. She is the saint of radiant clarity.

Anyway, let me not digress into religious history and away from the most important aspect, to me at least, of any festival or holiday – food!

Star Cookies

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  1. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon
  2. In a smaller bowl, mix together coconut oil, agave and vanilla
  3. Mix wet ingredients into dry, then chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour
  4. Roll out dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper until ¼ inch thick
  5. Remove top piece of parchment paper and dust dough with almond flour
  6. Cut out cookies with a small star cutter
  7. Using a metal spatula, place stars on a parchment lined baking sheet
  8. Bake at 350° until lightly browned around the edges, 5-8 minutes
  9. Cool completely prior to handling cookies

Makes 32 cookies

So, what is a gluten-free mom to do for a wheat-filled, sugar laden holiday celebration? I devised a holiday dessert recipe for the parents who had volunteered to bake star cookies. Then I assembled bags with the recipe, parchment paper, a cookie cutter and the ingredients.

The children dressed up in white robes and spent the entire day serving star cookies to everyone from ‘kindergarteners’ to high school seniors. And the five gluten-free kids in my son’s class? They were able to eat the cookies that they gave to others and break bread with the entire school. Now that’s Lucia magic.


posted on December 21, 2006, 51 comments

  1. Tracee

    My 3 year old and I made these last night. I used butter instead of coconut oil (due to a food allergy)and honey in place of agave (to stick to the SCDiet). They came out lovely. Trying to tranfer the cut out dough with a metal spatula just wasn’t working. So I rolled a golf ball sized dough between two 6″ x 6″ pieces of wax paper, peeled the top sheet off, cut out the cookie, flipped it onto the parchment lined cookie sheet, and then peeled off the other sheet. They were adorable. The theme this semester in my child’s Kindermusik class is “milk and cookies” so he was excited to make cookies. He enjoyed picking out the shapes, so we had airplanes and stars. When he took a bite of the first one he said “mmmmm”. They are not too sweet so I let him have three.

  2. Tracee,

    Thanks for your sweet words. I really appreciate that you shared your substitutions with us; my favorite part of your comment was, “They are not too sweet so I let him have three.

    Thanks Again!
    Elana

  3. Emily

    Hello Miss Elana and friends!
    So- since going gluten free, I haven’t done any baking what so ever (because of other allergies I didn’t think it was possible). After discovering almond flour (thank you Elana!) I am so anxious to bake everything imaginable! Including some cookies! Please forgive me if this is naive, but can baking soda possibly contain gluten?
    I was under the impression it does not, but at Whole Foods today I found 3 different brands. One was called Pure Baking Soda, Arm and Hammer’s brand, and Bob’s Red Mill. Bob’s Red Mill was 3 dollars more than the other 2 brands but it was labeled aluminum and gluten free. This confused me!! I purchased the least expensive “Pure Baking Soda” but am wondering if I should be concerned it could have aluminum and gluten in it?!
    What do you use?
    Thank you for helping me with this!

  4. Emily,

    Thanks for your comment and question. Great question, by the way.

    I have my box of (oh so cheap) Arm & Hammer baking soda sitting in front of me. The only ingredient listed on the label is sodium bicarbonate. I think that the folks at Bob’s are just good marketers, like the ones at Whole Foods. Next thing you know, we’ll find apples labeled “gluten-free” in the produce aisle.

    Have fun with the cookies.

    Elana

  5. Emily

    That made me laugh :-)
    I couldn’t agree more! I wish these companies would cut it out because when I see products that are naturally gluten free labeled as such, it puts doubt into my mind; “wait?! this could have gluten in it? I didn’t think it could!?” and then I worry. Because as you know, the pain of eating gluten is just NOT worth it.
    I know shopping at Whole Foods isn’t exactly the best choice either but so far my area hasn’t really taken to the idea of organic and healthy so it’s usually the only store (and I drive 40 minutes to the nearest one!) I can find things I can eat. I hope one day we can move to a climate (and have a yard!) where I can grow my own food!! Oh the options would be endless.
    Anyway, thank you!

    • Christy

      Hi! I’m about to try these with my kids. I, too, live in a small town that has very few options in the gluten free/natural realm. Only 1 store carries anything organic. I find myself ordering a lot of dry goods from Amazon. Free 2 day shipping with prime, bulk is cheaper than a lot of stores like whole food, and I avoid driving an hour each way to a store that might have what I need, not to mention toting 3 kids on that hour long drive & the gas used by my minivan. Now for the cookies!

  6. Emily,

    You are very welcome.

    I confess, after I make my usual pilgrimage to Vitamin Cottage, I head straight over to Whole Foods for my poultry/fish and any remaining items I can’t find at VC.

    Thanks for all of your comments on my blog! It’s fun to chat with you :-)

    Elana

  7. i made these and the pecan shortbread cookies last night for dessert. only one word comes to mind…YUM!

  8. Desiree

    Is the coconut oil refined or unrefined? Can’t wait to make these! Thank you, Elana! :)

  9. Brandy

    Elana,

    These cookies are WONDERFUL! I LOOOOVE all the recipes I have tried from your website!! Zucchini Carpaccio, kale, etc. I can’t wait to try them all. I will enjoy these cookies by the fire during the expected blizzard in Boulder tomorrow. :-)

    Thank You SO MUCH for posting all your wonderful recipes!

    Happy Holidays,
    Brandy

  10. A

    And here I thought my family was one of the only ones in the US which celebrates Santa Lucia…

  11. Claire

    Hi there – for any other UK dwellers you may have tapping into your wonderful blog – we have ‘baking powder’ which sometimes contains wheat flour (so just check the label, I’ve not found a supermarket that doesnt have a choice), and ‘bicarbonate of soda’ which doesnt. From what I can make out ‘baking powder’ = ‘baking soda’. If anyone else has some clarity on that I’m very happy to be corrected as it is a bit confusing!! :o) Claire

  12. Scarlet

    I made these at our Thanksgiving party and made some variations: I put in 2 egg whites, used 1/4 cup coconut oil and only 3 TBSP of agave, I also added an extra TBSP of vanilla :)

    They were DELICIOUS! In my husband’s words “the best cookies, ever”.

    Cheers!
    Scarlet

  13. Hi elana, thank you so much for this cookie recipe! I love your ideas and creations and love recreating them in my own kitchen. I am allergic to eggs as well as gluten, so I was thrilled that these don´t call for eggs! Have a wonderful day and thanks again!

  14. Bridgett

    Hi Elana,

    I ordered natural almond flour from Honeyville and not until I re-read your almond flour information (after a failed try at a bread recipe) did I realize I had made a mistake by not ordering blanched almond flour. Is this 5lb bag destined to stay on my pantry shelf, or is there a way to salvage?

    Thank you.

    Bridgett

    • Lisa Stafford @ lisastafford.net

      You can use the natural almond flour to bread chicken tenders or pork chops, or to make salmon patties, for example. The blanched works best in baked items. Hope that helps.

    • Christy

      I use whole almond flour in most of my baking recipes – like pumpkin whoopie pies and chocolate chip cookies, even muffins – with no problem. I can see that it probably wouldn’t work for “sugar” cookies, but I’ve had lots of success in other things

  15. g-man

    The feast of Santa Lucia refers to the early Christian martyr, Saint Lucy. (In Latin, Santa Lucia literally means Satin Lucy.) St. Lucy died in the year 303. She was martyred by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Her death, came long after the founding of the Catholic Church by Christ, circa 33 a.d. Therefore, St. Lucy is definitely not a pre-Christian figure, her death coming about 270 years after the founding of the Church. The feast of Santa Lucia may have been celebrated on the same date as an earlier pagan feast, celebrating “light.” The Catholic Church often placed its feasts on the same days as pagan festivals for the purpose of counteracting their celebrations. Santa Lucia is a feast commemorating an early martyr of the Church. The Feast of Lucia, i.e., Feast of light, is placed during Advent to symbolize the coming of the Light of Christ into the world on Christmas Day.

    • Mary Jo Epperson

      I’m so happy to see someone setting the record straight for our beloved Santa Lucia!
      More facts: she was Sicilian (as are we, not Swedish).
      She wore lighted candles or torches on her head to light her way up to the caves where hiding, persecuted Christians were starving; Her hands were needed to carry the food!

  16. Lisa Stafford @ lisastafford.net

    You might use the natural almond flour to bread chicken tenders or pork chops, or add it to your salmon patties. The blanched almond flour works best for baked goods. Hope that helps.

  17. KarenL

    OK. So in what way will Bob’s flour not work? I’d ordered Elena’s recommended almond flour but it didnt come in time for this past Sunday and I wanted to try these cookies to take to church for a family that must eat gluten-free. I only had Bob’s flour and I just could not keep the dough together. I was able to get about 6 cookies cut and put on the cookie sheet before the rest of it just blobbed out and would not hold its form. I just want to make sure it was because I didnt use the correct flour and not another problem (greasy) that I’m seeing posted on this forum. Thanks!

    Karen

    • Yes, exactly in the way you describe above. Doesn’t hold together, turns into a big blob and oh so many other problems that I won’t even go into right now –like to stay focused on what does work :-)

      • KarenL

        Thanks, Elena. I just wanted to make sure the symptoms I was having was actually from the flour and not some other error I might have made. Altho, reading below, it sounds like this could’ve worked for me, too. I, too, used butter (my family does NOT appreciate good coconut oil) and I would take half the dough to roll out. The outer edges would hold together OK but by the time I got to the middle, it was “goo-ing” out… Perhaps I just expected too much from the butter. The taste was good; i’d highly recommend keeping the cinnamon in.

  18. Lisa Stafford @ lisastafford.net

    My daughter and I made these yesterday for Christmas cutout cookies. I used butter in place of coconut oil and left out the cinnamon. I doubled the vanilla. I used half the agave called for because I knew we were going to frost them with a sweet frosting.

    I refrigerated the dough, and rolled out a little more than enough dough for one cookie between wax paper. Each time I placed some dough on waxed paper, I put the bowl back in the refrigerator. I took the unused dough from the wax paper and put it back in the bowl and flattened it to the side, to chill faster. The chilled dough is easier to work with.

    I peeled off the top sheet of waxed paper, removed the unused dough, and flipped the waxed paper over onto the silicone baking sheet that I use instead of parchment paper. Thanks to Tracee, above, for this idea. : )

    Once the cookie sheet was full, I placed the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. This step is crucial when using butter, because it firms the dough back up and keeps the cookies from spreading and losing their shape.

    Today, we made Royal Icing and frosted the cookies and decorated them. They turned out beautifully, and are delicious too.

  19. Susan

    Do you have a Santa Lucia Bun recipe? I am in search of one that uses coconut flour and eggs… and maybe almond flour. Any ideas?

  20. Paige G.

    Just made these after trying 2 other sugar cookie recipes for heart shaped cookies…they worked! I’m still scratching my head about what went wrong with the other two but these are great! we just ate one still warm from the oven and holy cow delish! thanks Elana! You saved Valentines for us!

  21. Sheri Rohan

    What a bummer. I made these with my almost 5-year-old daughter this evening and they just melted in the oven. I’ve read the ingredients 5 times over now – I measured everything correctly but I don’t know why ours did not turn out. After the first batch failed I added 1/3 c almond flour to the remaining dough. The shapes held much better but they just crumble when we pick them up & are still quite greasy. If anyone has any suggestions I’d love to try them again. If at first I don’t succeed…

    Thanks!

  22. Trisha

    I made these today w my bigger kids (4 & 6) & they turned out really great. I subbed pure maple syrup for the agave & almond extract bc I was out of vanilla. The cutting was a little tricky but I remembered reading another gal had rolled & cut them individually which actually worked much better. I ended up splitting the dough & keeping one half in the fridge while I rolled & cut each cookie from the other half of dough. Cutting each one indivdually lets you just peel them off the parchment instead of trying to scrape them up w the spatula. They baked up great & if I wasn’t trying to save them for Santa, I’d let the kids eat more of them!

  23. Shaya

    These were so delicious! No one had any idea they were “healthy” other than that they “taste like nuts.” This was my first time using almond flour, and I love it! I unfortunately bought it at a local grocery store where it was ridiculously expensive, so I will be looking for alternative ways to purchase it after this. I had some difficulty with cookie cutting the dough and had to add quite a bit more almond flour to make it less greasy/sticky, but the end result was fabulous. Thank you!

  24. Rosita Thibodeaux

    Elana I just wanted to wish you and your family a wonderful Holiday Season and to thank you so much for your time and effort and great recipes you generously share with us. I pray for your good health and happiness for many years to come.

    God Bless You,

    Rosita

  25. Abi Averitt @ integratedsomatics.com

    Elana- I am thinking of having a few neighbor kids over to decorate cookies and wonder if you have any suggestions for frosting and decorations. I would love to make it fun and not a totally sugar driven event but that is half the fun. I went to my first gingerbread house party a few weeks ago and the kids had a blast. I thought decorating just cookies would be a fine substitute and within the realm of possibility for me. I imagine these cookies would work well but I am unfortunately avoiding almond flour since it seems our youngest has a sensitivity/allergy to nuts. It will probably mean i will need to substitute gluten free in another sugar cookie recipe but if you have any recommendations let me know! Thanks so much and Happy Holiday-
    Abi

  26. Mindy Schinnerer

    hope you can answer this for me. when a recipe calls for 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted….Does this mean measure 1/2 cup solid and then melt OR melt the oil first to measure out at 1/2 cup ?? Wondering if this matters? The star cookies were really oily and did not crisp like traditional sugar cookies. Thanks so much!
    Mindy

  27. Marie

    Made today with my son. They came out wonderful. This was the first time making cut out cookies for both of us. Used maple syrup instead of honey. I wonder ifbthere might be a way to make with stevia.

  28. Genice

    Mine totally flopped! :( Not sure what the issue was, but they spread like crazy in the oven and you couldn’t even tell what shape they had originally been intended for. Of course, they were still delicious, but my little girls were somewhat disappointed by the disappearance of their ducks and trees and snowmen. (Yeah, I let them go crazy with the cookie cutters.) We enjoyed eating them anyway. Next time, I will do the measuring instead of having my 12 year old niece and nephew help. Perhaps that was the difficulty?

  29. I am definitely going to make these cookies at Christmas. No milk or butter. They are going to be divine.

  30. Perfect for our Saint Lucia next year-our last;( Thank you for the recipe.

  31. Kellaigh

    Is there anyway that I could use coconut flour instead of blanched almond flour as I would make this as an ordinary cookie for my kids to take to school but no nut products are allowed?

  32. diana

    Hi! How well does this keep in the freezer? Thanks for the lovely recipe and site!

  33. Ewa

    Hello,

    How long would these keep in a cookie tin box / fridge?

  34. Jessie

    QUESTION! I really want make these with my little ones but I am allergic to almonds. What would a good alternative flour be? Thanks!

  35. Jessica

    I enjoy making holiday cookies!

  36. Rachel @ GrokGrub @ GrokGrub.com

    I went to a Waldorf school for 18 years. I’m delighted you mentioned them!

  37. jessica

    I just tried making the ginger shortbread cookies and the star cookies. The ginger shortbread swelled up to 3X’s their size, but they were also very sticky, I could not get them off the paper without them crumbling into pieces. The Star cookies also swelled and went from star shapes to flat round circles and were also impossible to get off parchment paper without completly falling apart. I’m not sure what went wrong…I followed the recipe exactly as it is printed. Has this happened to anyone else? Do you have any suggestions for me?
    I’m bummed I’ve been baking all morning, 5 hours to take these cookies to our family’s get-together tonight. My son is gluten free and I wanted him to have some desserts he could eat at the party…Oh well.

  38. Tina

    These came out great! Thank you for the recipe!

  39. Jenny

    May be a silly question, but is there a good paleo “icing” recipe anyone can recommend to ice or decorate the cookies? I feel like that is where the sugar tornado happens when I let the kids “decorate” their own cookies with an inch of those toppings!

  40. Tori Lorvig

    It’s so comforting to me, spending so many years explaining my “weird school” to people, to see someone else who knows who Santa Lucia is. I once told a friend about it and she said it sounded like I went to a cult.

  41. Chi

    Thank you for this recipe! In addition to having a GF and DF free child in our class, our entire school is nut free. Is there a substitution for the almond flour? It would be so lovely if all the children could eat the same cookies.

  42. Tracy

    These sound delicious! Do you think I could use maple syrup instead of honey or agave nectar? I can’t have either as I don’t tolerate fructose.
    Thanks for your help!

  43. Wanda

    We made the Star cookies with our grandsons and they were so oily from the amount of coconut oil you could squeeze the oil out of the dough. After baking them and putting them on parchment paper, they leave a very oily surface under the cookies. We were really disappointed with this recipe. I think that the amount of coconut oil is way too much.

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Comments are greatly appreciated! Unfortunately Elana is not able to answer substitution questions, as the only way to know if something works is to test it, and she does not provide this service. If you have a substitution question, please don't hesitate to leave a comment here, and another reader may jump in to answer. ↑ back to top