Kerstkransjes (pronounced) are traditional Dutch Christmas cookies and when translated means ‘Little Christmas Wreaths’. They are usually shaped in a wreath (hence the name), which is easily achieved by using a flower shaped cookie cutter. However, they can also be in the shape of Christmas trees and stars. Some people like to hang Kerstkransjes on their Christmas tree as a decoration, using ribbon to hang them on the branches.
These simple, and easy to make cookies, have a wonderful light and crisp shortbread texture. I flavoured my cookies with some vanilla extract and a little lemon zest, but you can just use vanilla. They can be glazed with either milk or an egg wash, before baking. I like to use an egg wash on mine, because it helps give the cookies a golden colour, as we all know that gluten free baked goods need all the help they can get in that department!
Kerstkransjes can be decorated in many different ways, with the most common being sugar and sliced almonds. I like to break up the almonds into smaller pieces before sprinkling them over my cookies, as I think it looks neater that way. However, this is my personal preference, so please feel free to leave the sliced almonds whole if you prefer. They are absolutely delicious as they are or, for a more decadent touch, you can dip or drizzle over your favourite kind of chocolate.
For a nut free option, just egg wash the cookies and liberally sprinkle over some caster or Demerara sugar, before baking. You can also leave them as they are or drizzle over some chocolate, once they’ve cooled completely. Alternatively, bake them without the sugar and, once cooled, drizzle over or dip them in dark, milk or white chocolate, then sprinkle over or lightly dip them in festive coloured 100’s & 1000’s to decorate.
Kerstkransjes also make a lovely gift. Just pop them in small bags, tied with pretty ribbon and add a personalized label to them.
Thankfully though, these cookies are much easier to make than they are to pronounce!
For accurate cup measurements, I sift the potato starch a before measuring, so that there are no lumps/clumps. All cup measurements are firmly packed.
Recipe Update: I’m currently using the Bob’s Red Mill brand of xanthan gum, as I’m no longer able to buy the Nu-vit brand. I have found by using this brand, I’ve needed to increase the xanthan gum by an extra ⅛ teaspoon. I have also found with the different gum, that I’ve needed to increase the length of time the dough needs to be refrigerated from 60 to 90 minutes.
Important Note: we have quite warm to hot days here in Australia during the festive season, which can make handling and rolling cookie dough quite tricky. If it is a particularly warm day, first roll out the dough as mentioned, before placing it back in the refrigerator and allowing it to chill for another 10 minutes, or until well chilled. This will make cutting and working with the cookie dough a lot easier.
Makes approximately 40 cookies
96g (3.4 ounces or ½ cup) golden/raw caster sugar or superfine white sugar (I use this brand)
96g (3.4 ounces or ¾ cup) superfine white rice flour
33g (1.2 ounces or 3 tablespoons) potato starch
32g (1.1 ounces or ¼ cup) tapioca starch
28g (1.0 ounces or ¼ cup) corn starch
¼ teaspoon plus ⅛ teaspoon (1.875ml) xanthan gum
A pinch of salt
112g (4.0 ounces or ½ cup) gluten and dairy free butter
1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon (2.5ml) finely grated lemon zest
1 large egg yolk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Golden/raw caster sugar or superfine white sugar (I use this brand)
Sliced Almonds, lightly crushed into smaller pieces, or you can keep them whole
Preheat the oven to 160C and line 2 trays with baking paper/parchment.
In a bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients and then add in the butter, egg yolk, vanilla extract and lemon zest.
Work the dough with your fingers, rubbing the butter into the flour, until you have a breadcrumb-like consistency. Work the mixture a little more with your hands, until it comes together into a smooth ball. Then wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 90 minutes.
Remove from the refrigerator and roll the dough, between two pieces of baking paper/parchment, to 3mm in thickness. However, if it’s a particularly warm day, please follow the instructions in the notes above.
Using a flower cookie cutter (mine measured just under 6cm at it’s widest point), or a round fluted cutter, cut out your shapes. Peel away all of the surrounding dough and put this aside, for re-use again. Gently peel the biscuits off of the baking paper/parchment, which should come away quite easily, then transfer the cookies to the prepared trays. You can put them quite close together, about 3cm apart, as they don’t spread too much during baking. When the dough gets warm it does become a little harder to work with, so just pop it back in the refrigerator to chill.
Now remove the centre of each cookie, with the wide end of a piping nozzle (mine measured just over 1.5cm in diameter) or a small round cutter, and return the cut out circles to your ball of dough. I find cutting out the centre is much easier to do on the tray, as this way the cookie doesn’t loose its shape.
Lightly brush the cookies with the beaten egg, liberally sprinkle with golden/raw sugar and finish off with a scattering of crushed or whole sliced almonds.
Then bake them for approximately 14-15 minutes or until lightly golden.
Once baked, allow the cookies to cool on the trays for 2-3 minutes, before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe by: The Gluten & Dairy Free Bakehouse
Note: all recipe oven temperatures shown are for a fan forced electric oven. Please refer to the below guide to help you adjust your oven accordingly. This recipe is shown in bold.
Oven Temperatures Chart
130C = 110C fan = 250F = Gas mark 1
150C = 130C fan = 300F = Gas mark 2
160C = 140C fan = 325F = Gas mark 3
180C = 160C fan = 350F = Gas mark 4
190C = 170C fan = 375F = Gas mark 5
200C = 180C fan = 400F = Gas mark 6
220C = 200C fan = 425F = Gas mark 7
230C = 210C fan = 450F = Gas mark 8