Healthier Holiday Gingerbread Trees

Spelt and gluten-free versions of this holiday classic!
gingerbread trees sprinkled with powdered sugar on a wooden table
© Can Stock Photo / nblxer

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.

About 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.

Tools

  • 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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.
  2. Whisk together coconut oil, coconut sugar, eggs and molasses.
  3. 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).
  4. Combine wet with dry, and mix well. Knead in more flour by hand if the dough is too sticky.
  5. 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.
  6. Bake for 5-15 minutes depending on the size of the cookie.

Assembling the trees

  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Feel free to add 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil if the chocolate is very thick.
  2. Place some melted chocolate on a cake board, and then place one cookie.
  3. Layer chocolate and cookies.
  4. To decorate mine, I put chocolate and slivered almonds on the corners of all the cookies.
  5. 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!