Now, traditionally, stollen is made with some candied fruits and is covered in either powdered sugar or a powdered sugar glaze. For obvious reasons, this does not work for people trying to live sugar-free over the holidays! I do have something to confess: I had no idea what “stollen” was when my husband began to talk wistfully of the bread his family made every Christmas Eve (I realized later that I had seen the commercialized version of it that is usually sold in Germany–a German professor brought one in–but I didn’t realize it was the same thing when Sean was talking about it). However, he quite liked the tradition his family had concerning this bread, so I thought I’d give a shot to making it.

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Merry Christmas, everyone.  :-)  It’s been a busy few weeks for me; I was going to fall back on a post about tortillas, which I have all the pictures for, but I woke up the other day and the first thing I thought was, “Really, Jennifer?  Really?  You’re going to post about tortillas on Christmas Eve?  Forget that.  Post about sugar cookies.”  I had not ever in my life made sugar cookies from scratch, but this did not stop me!  After all, fools rush in where angels fear to tread, right? . . .
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I’ve heard of a lot of things called “Santa’s Thumb Prints” , and most of them are tasty. The only thing the recipes appear to have in common is that they all have a circle of jam dropped into the center of the cookie. The ones my mother makes are nutty and a nice brown color; the ones I had at a party the other day (called “Santa’s Thumb Prints” by the lady who brought them) were more like a sugar cookie dough and were mostly off-white. Both were extremely tasty, and I’m sure you’ve probably run across many other things that go by this name that aren’t quite like either of these examples. One way or the other, here is a natural-sugar version of this holiday cookie. I guess it falls somewhere between what my mother makes and the smooth sugar-cookie variety in texture and flavor. You’ll just have to give it a try and let me know what you think of it :-).

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You might literally not believe how well this recipe came out in the end.  It’s flaky, it holds together beautifully, it lasts until the last slice of pie (even when that takes a week!). 

Pie crust is one of the first things my mother took a serious crack at back in the day, just a few months after my sister and I (and by extension my father) were diagnosed with celiac, since Thanksgiving was coming up soon.  She probably ran through every pie crust recipe she could find anywhere on the internet; the results were . . . well, a little hard on the jaw.  :-)  Which isn’t her fault, of course, pie crust is hard to make when youdon’t have to do it gluten-free, let alone when you do!  For a solid year, her attempts failed, my attempts failed (though they made nice Frisbees, once you scooped the pie filling back out), and we’d basically written off pie as, well, pie-in-the-sky. . .

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This particular recipe is one of my better efforts in recreating pretty much exactly what Sean missed (and, for that matter, what I expect out of a good cinnamon roll!). They are not so syrupy as what you’ll get from the cinnamon roll place in your local mall, but quite frankly, having good fresh sweetbread makes it unnecessary to drown the roll in syrup. All that extra sweet is to hide how dry the roll is from being reheated so much. These are sweet and satisfying, and the cream cheese topping positively indulgent :-).

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