Candy Cane Cookies

What does your kid do when innocently offered sugar? What do you do?

We are lucky that Nora informs people that she has a “special diet.” She doesn’t make a fuss. I make sure we thank them for the gift or offer, give a short explanation and try to re-direct the conversation.

This week, the kids’ swimming teacher gave them 3 candy canes each, of different flavors, wrapped with a ribbon. It was nice of her and she didn’t know about Nora’s diet. There is not reason for her to know the details, they just swim! Nora took the candy canes but said she had a special diet. Anders and I gave the short explanation, which usually is something like “she has epilepsy and can’t have sugar.” To redirect, I suggested that we could use them as decorations on our Christmas tree. The kids thanked her for the present.

Anders really does a good job for a 7 year old, but he can’t help but blurt out, “but I can eat one later, right?” I try to tell him that we will discuss it later, but he can’t help but bring it up repeatedly. Somewhere in there I remembered making candy cane Christmas cookies in the past, and suggested that we could make some for Nora so that she can have a “candy cane” too. Then I was committed.

We had already made the Coconut Cut-Out Cookies from www.ketocook.com into Christmas Cookies, so I knew I already had a recipe. We just had to make the shape.

I made a double batch of the Coconut Cut-Out Cookie recipe and divided it into 2 balls of 101 g each. FYI, this time I increased the coconut oil to 16 g and the butter to 29 g to make it a 3.5:1 ratio for Nora. I also do not add as much no-carb sweetener as called for in the original recipe.

One ball I left in it’s original color and flavor. For the other ball, we added 4 drops of red food coloring and a few drops of peppermint extract, mixing well to get it fully incorporated.

Then I weighed out 8 g balls of each mixture, so that each cookie is made from 16 g of dough. That makes serving them much easier because they are a uniform weight.

If you have older children, they will like to help you shape the cookies. Just like soft playdough, roll each 8 g ball into a long snake shape, about 5 inches. You will have 1 pink string and 1 “white” string. Then carefully twist them around each other and form into a candy cane shape. I found the the dough tended to break a bit, but you can easily keep smushing it back together to get a compact cookie. As you wrap the strings around each other, press together to form a single compact stick of dough.

Forming each one took 2-4 minutes so the dough tended to dry out. Part way through I realized that I should keep the dough moist and put a damp dishcloth over the top of everything, both the formed and un-formed dough.

Nora wasn’t able to do that fine motor work with the precision needed to make a candy cane shape and just wanted to play with it. I let her try to form hers, then we just mashed her dough together into a round pink and white cookie because it was beyond repair. It will still taste the same.

The double-batch of dough with 16 g per cookie made 12 candy cane cookies. Because they were a bit thick, they took 8-10 minutes to bake through. They turned out quite sturdy! a few broke when they were picked up and waved around (4 year olds tend to do that), but they were not crumbly at all. Nora was able to dip hers in tea. I tried the littlest cookie made from leftover dough and it tasted good. I think the coconut flour gives it a bit of a dry texture, even with all of that fat, so it is perfect for dipping. Anders and his friend Henry really really really wanted to try one even though I offered them sugared snickerdoodles, so I let them split one and they liked it too! That’s the ultimate taste test! Also, it signals that food that looks fun is always good to eat.

With less than a week left until Christmas, I’m going to dole these out slowly so that I don’t have to make them again until next year. They were fun, but time consuming. Make it a fun holiday activity with your keto kid and enjoy the smiles.

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About Christy Anderson Brekken

In no particular order... Instructor and Researcher, Department of Applied Economics, Oregon State University. Educational background: University of MN Law School, 2005. MS in Ag and Resource Economics, Oregon State University, 2011. Teaches: Agricultural Law, Environmental Law. Mother: brilliant 9 year old boy; brilliant 6 year old girl with benign myoclonic epilepsy on a modified ketogenic diet therapy. Married to: Ted Brekken, OSU Department of Electrical Engineering. Ride: Xtra-cycle Edgerunner with kid seat; 400-pound cargo capacity. Grew up: Devils Lake, ND. Lived in: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Pohang, South Korea, Trondheim, Norway, Corvallis, OR. Interests: Cooking, knitting, eating, yoga, laughing, hiking, traveling, staying sane.

4 thoughts on “Candy Cane Cookies

  1. That’s interesting that you have the “short version” down to a science already! In the first couple of years of the diet, no one could shut me up if they so much as cocked their head a little. LOL

    I used to make candy cane cookies every year! These are so cute! I was told by another keto mom when we first started the diet that food coloring was a no-no, so I’ve never tried it. I should have actually asked my own keto team! Maybe I’ll try making these for Jade… We still haven’t reintroduced dairy, so maybe I’ll see if this works with ghee and that will be our first reintroduction. I tried making this with just coconut oil and some extra egg last week and some chia. It worked out okay, but was quite crumbly unless refrigerated, which does happen with coconut oil. I’m thinking the ghee might help in that regard. Thanks for the super-fun idea!

    • I don’t think people are really satisfied with my “short version” and I can get going when I see the blank look in their eyes, but I try to keep it short. It helped to see how Anders explains it, simply as “no sugar.” I started rattling on with a mom at Nora’s gymnastics class the other day and had the voice in my head saying “it’s time to end this gracefully. Wrap it up. NOW.”

      On the food coloring, I was also very wary. Same with artificial sweeteners. But then we give her prescription Cytra-K every day, complete with saccharine and red dye #3 (or something, I don’t have the package), so a little has been fine for months now. I was really not thrilled with that, but we worked so hard to find a Cytra formula that would work with the diet and not count as a bunch of carbs. I think that it’s important to be careful to introduce these things in isolation at the beginning of the diet and some kids are more sensitive than others. The peppermint extract is another thing to check, because some of the flavorings have sugar alcohols in them (no carb for diabetic purposes, but keto kids can be sensitive).

      I bet ghee will work great. Why are you using chia, for some extra fiber and goodness? I wonder if that is not fine enough to get a smooth texture that will stay together. Or maybe a little bit of water to make sure that the chia is nice and hydrated, if it absorbs liquid and fat the way that coconut flour will.

      Good luck!

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