Healthier Holiday Gingerbread Trees
Gingerbread trees are a fantastic project because they are gorgeous to look at, and can make wonderful gifts or centerpieces for the holidays. Even better, these ones are made with a healthier kick!
Trees are also a lot simpler to build than houses, so even your smaller children can help create one, layered with luscious chocolate. With the warm colour of the mineral-rich molasses, no one will know that this tree is made of healthier, whole grain flours. We’ve got a spelt flour version (spelt tends to be less processed than wheat, and has more protein), as well as a gluten-free version, made with oat and buckwheat flours.
I first made this recipe using spelt flour, and found I only needed about 6 cups including the extra I used for flouring surfaces. Then, when I adapted with gluten-free flours, I found I needed a lot more flour to get the dough to be the right stickiness. For this reason, I recommend making sure you have extra flour on hand, and after adding the first 5½ cups, to add in ¼ or ½ cup increments. The dough will be sticky, but should still be roll-able.
- A variety of sizes of star shaped cookie cutters—any 5 point stars will do, but the shape could change depending on the sizes of your cookie cutters. Alternately, you can carefully cut star shapes into rolled dough with a butter knife. Try using paper cutouts laid on top of dough to guide you!
- Many sheets of parchment paper
- Rolling pin
- 5½-6½ c spelt flour (OR 2½-3½ cups oat flour + 3½-4½ cups buckwheat flour for a gluten-free version)
- ½ c ground flax seed
- 1 c coconut sugar (or brown sugar if it’s all you’ve got)
- 1¼ c molasses (look for unsulphured varieties)
- 1½ Tbsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 1 c dark chocolate chips or semi-sweet baking chocolate
- *optional: slivered almonds, candy or dried fruit, and a little extra chocolate for decorating
- Preheat oven to 375˚F.
- Whisk together coconut oil, coconut sugar, eggs and molasses.
- In a separate bowl, mix together 5 cups of flour and dry ingredients (if doing gluten-free option, start with equal parts of oat and buckwheat).
- Combine wet with dry, and mix well. Knead in more flour by hand if the dough is too sticky.
- Sandwich a tennis ball sized amount of dough between two pieces of parchment paper, and roll it out about ¼” thick. Use your cookie cutters, and then transfer the parchment to a cookie sheet. Repeat this step until you have 2 cookies of each size.
- Bake for 5-15 minutes depending on the size of the cookie.
Assembling the trees
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Feel free to add 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil if the chocolate is very thick.
- Place some melted chocolate on a cake board, and then place one cookie.
- Layer chocolate and cookies.
- To decorate mine, I put chocolate and slivered almonds on the corners of all the cookies.
- Transfer to fridge if you’d like to set the chocolate quickly, but store at room temperature after.
To serve, gently use a knife to separate the layers. Enjoy!