The Perfect Shortbread Cookie Recipe (Vegan & GF)

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Baking is a science. If you’ve ever tried to alter a cake recipe, you know this to be true. In order to produce the desired texture, flavor, and appearance, you must find the delicate balance between the type and amount of flour, sugar, and leavening agent.

On Friday I turned my kitchen into a chemistry lab in order to create a nutritious shortbread cookie recipe that I could use as the base for many future dessert recipes (crusts, cookies, etc.). I knew from reading several gluten-free recipes in the past that a blend of flours produces the best results, but I wanted to figure out the appropriate blend myself. I started by making three different basic shortbread cookie recipes (just flour, maple syrup, vanilla, and Earth Balance) using one type of GF flour in each recipe: coconut flour, almond flour, and sweet white sorghum flour.

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Note: You can thank my husband for preventing this post from being super nerdy. I was set on writing it in scientific method (hypothesis, method, observations, results, etc.), but he convinced me otherwise.

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When mixing the ingredients, I noticed that the coconut flour soaked up the liquid quickly and appeared crumbly. The almond flour did not soak up the liquid well, and I had to double the amount of flour to reach a dough consistency. The sorghum flour produced a smooth dough, but looked like wet sand. I pressed each dough into disks an baked them at 350° for about 10 minutes. The photo above shows my results.

The sorghum flour was the winner in terms of texture, but the loser for taste. It tasted like wheat flour, which is not desirable in a shortbread cookie recipe. The coconut and almond flours produced the best flavor, but the almond flour cookie was too dense and chewy. Alternatively, the coconut flour cookie was too crumbly and dry.

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Next I experimented with different ratios of flours. I tried a cookie with just almond and coconut flour, which was close but not exactly the texture I wanted. I then added just a little sorghum flour, and BINGO — just what I wanted!

From there I added other ingredients, like lemon zest/juice and Chia seeds, to make it more exciting and nutritious. Expect to see more variations of this recipe in the future!

From a nutrition standpoint, this cookie is a great option if you’re set on having cookies (for example, if you’re hosting a shower or tea party, etc.). Almond flour is a good source of protein and healthy fats, coconut flour contains lots of fiber, and Chia seeds (if you add them) are an excellent source of DHA (healthy fat). This recipe does require sweetener in the form of maple syrup or honey, as well as oil (Earth Balance or coconut oil), so it’s not exactly a weight loss recipe. Just limit yourself to one or two per serving.

These cookies are light, buttery, and not too sweet. The lemon zest and juice add a fresh brightness to them that makes them a delightful accompaniment to an afternoon tea or morning coffee.

Guilty. Definitely ate these for breakfast!

Guilty. Definitely ate these for breakfast!

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Basic Shortbread Cookie (Vegan & GF)

  • Servings: makes about 8 2-in. cookies
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 T. sweet white sorghum flour
  • 1/4 t. fine sea salt
  • Optional: 1 t. Chia seeds
  • Optional: 1 t. lemon zest
  • Scant 1/2 cup melted Earth Balance or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar
  • 1 t. vanilla extract or almond extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients, breaking up any flour clumps. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Pour wet into dry and stir. Don’t be alarmed by the wet consistency of the dough. Just keep stirring! Soon you will have a dough you can work with. If not, place the bowl in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up.
  4. Using your hands, form balls of dough and flatten them into 2-inch disks on your baking sheet, smoothing the edges with your fingers. These cookies don’t spread when baked.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until you notice the bottom edges are golden brown. Let cookies cool completely on the baking sheet so they don’t crumble.
Shown with lemon zest and chia seeds added

Shown with lemon zest and Chia seeds

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Pin this recipe for later, because there’s so much you can do with it! Right now I’m working on a citrus tea cookie recipe, and I’ll probably use it to make dessert bars in the future.

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I guess I should get out of the kitchen and get back to parenting . . .

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