Chocolate Shortbread: GF Christmas Cookies!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Shortbread Cookies: Christmas Season is Cookie Season! more »

It’s never too early to bake cookies. Bake them, then freeze them. That’s the first rule of cookie baking, and it goes double for Cookie Season. And if you plan to bake cookies to give as gifts, don’t make them look too perfect. And don’t package them too fancy—or you’ll be left wondering whether they know that you made them yourself. And anyway you know you want them to know that you made all those cookies with your own two hands. And that you never ever lick your baking fingers. I’m thinking about getting a sign for my kitchen that makes that last fact 100% crystal clear. I’ve had finger-licking friends cook for me before in the distant past, and it’s not something you soon forget.

These chocolate shortbread cookies are a bit fragile after they’re baked, like shortbread should be, but the dough is really quite nice. If you worried about cutting out shapes, don’t. Either choose to just slice the dough into squares (or on the bias for diamonds), or choose not to worry. Because you have me, and I have some skillz, since this is all I do with my time. If you go with cut-outs, remember that, no matter how careful you are with the dough, shortbread cookies will spread a bit during baking and blur the crisp cut-out lines. All the more reason to decorate them.

Semi-Pro Tip: The easiest way to transfer cookie cut-outs to a baking sheet is to roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick (no thinner if it’s relatively fragile dough), press the cookie cutter down and wiggle it back and forth a bit to create some space around the cut-out, and then peel back the dough around the cut-outs (see left-hand picture above). Then, place the cut-outs, still on the same parchment, in the freezer for a few minutes until they’re firm. Remove them from the freezer, place one hand underneath the parchment and press up, then invert the cookie onto the palm of your other hand and peel back the parchment. Now place the cut-out on a prepared baking sheet.

I decorated these with royal icing to show them to you. But when I make a batch for Christmas gifting and holiday eating, I will make and freeze the cookies, then decorate them the day before. It’s the only way to be sure those pretty little not-too-perfect gift boxes can showcase all that gluten-free cookies can do.

Prep time: 15 minutes       Cook time: 10 minutes       Yield: About 18 cookies, depending upon size

1 cup gluten-free cake flour (115 g high-quality all-purpose gluten free flour + 25 g cornstarch) or 1 cup (140 g) high-quality all-purpose gluten-free flour

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 cup (20 g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1/2 cup (58 g) confectioners’ sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.

  • Make the dough. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, confectioners’ sugar and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the butter, and stir to combine. The dough will be crumbly at first. With lightly floured hands, knead the cookie dough until it comes together and becomes smooth.

  • Shape the cookies. Place the dough between two sheets of unbleached parchment paper and roll out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment, and cut out large snowflake shapes (or other large cookie cutter shape). To remove shapes, pull scraps from around the cutouts off of the parchment paper and set the scraps aside. Place one hand under the parchment paper and bend it back to expose the edge of one shape. Invert the shape onto the palm of your other hand and peel back the paper. Place the shapes about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Gather and reroll scraps, and repeat the process. Place the shaped cookies on the baking sheet in the freezer until firm, about 5 minutes.

  • Bake the cookies. Place the cookies in the center of the preheated oven and bake until just set, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet until firm, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing or serving. Freeze leftovers in a freezer-safe container.

  • Note: Use the royal icing recipe in this post to decorate the cookies once they have completely cooled.



P.S. If you haven’t yet, please pick up a copy of both of My Cookbooks! I can’t keep the blog going without your support, and they make great holiday gifts!

  • Carole

    Katie is going to love making these with Nana especially the chocolate part. Where can dutch processed chocolate be found.Our grocery store sure doesn’t work. Can you give me a brand name??? Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.Mine was sure different,could make a short story.

    • gfshoestring

      Hi Carole! 
      I usually order Dutch-processed cocoa online, and for a reliably gluten-free brand you can’t beat Rodelle (see link above in response to Maria’s comment). You can usually find it in higher-end grocery stores like Whole Foods, but you may not be able to find something reliably gluten-free. 
      I hear you on Thanksgiving. If by “different,” you mean that it kind of sucked. :(
      xoxo Nicole

  • Mary Hall

    Oh, I LOVE shortbread cookies and I LOVE chocolate–I can’t wait to make these!

    It’s nice to know that shortbread cookies are something that I won’t have to give up this holiday season (my first holiday season GF!)

    • gfshoestring

      Oh, oh Mary! No way you have to do without anything you love to eat just because you’re gluten-free! Unless of course you really loved the gluten itself. Then, I’m out of ideas. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Jenny

    Yummy!  Yummy!  I can’t wait to try these with my little guys!  I love your blog, cookbooks and seriously, I love YOU!  I can’t thank you enough for all your hard work!  My kids and I are GF, soy free, dairy free and peanut free … without your fabulous cookbook and talents … where would we be?  Thank you! ;o) And, Happy American Thanksgiving  …. Love, your #1 Canadian Fans! 

    • gfshoestring

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Jenny! I’m so happy that I’ve been able to help. I hope your Canadian Thanksgiving (which I just looked up and see that I missed by over a month!) was lovely. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Rochelle9999

    Nicole, what is a good mix( to buy) or recipe to make a dense fruit cake. I have my dried fruit but most cakes I bake are fluffy or soft. Thanks, Donna

    • gfshoestring

      Hi, Donna,
      I don’t care for dense fruit cake, I’m afraid, so I don’t have a recipe that I like. If you have a recipe that you have used before and you’re using Better Batter, try contacting them and they will help you convert the recipe to gluten-free!
      xoxo Nicole

  • kclark

    We travelled the week before TG and then ended up at my sister-in-law’s. So I couldn’t make anything gluten free to except a salad.  I don’t want to make you sad, but my kid had to eat a bowl of cool whip for dessert because all the desserts with glutenous.  I just caught up on the blog and I fell in love with your little turkey cookies.  Those would have been the biggest hit for all the kids that didn’t want to eat pumpkin pie.  Anyway, my kid wasn’t upset about the bowl of cool whip.  It just made my husband and I sad.  Next year the turkey cookies.  I am going to start making and freezing cookies for Christmas.  I have to be honest and tell you that freezer burned cookies scare me.  My grandmother used to bake ahead and put them out and they had no flavor at all.  I will go back and re-read your storage post so I can freeze them well.  I look forward to it. 

    • gfshoestring

      Seriously? A bowl of Cool Whip? Good for her that she soldiered on right through it! I hope she at least was able to eat a few sprinkles on it? Then it kinda doesn’t sound so bad. ;) Freezer burn comes from air coming into contact with the food. So even if you use a freezer-safe Ziploc bag, for example, and you don’t squeeze out the air, you’ll get freezer burn. So I typically wrap cookies in Freeze-Tite (you’ll see it in that GF food storage post), and then put them in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag and squeeze out the air. You should be good to go! 
      xoxo Nikki

  • Maria

    Hi Nicole!  These look awesome, and somewhat easy enough to do w/ my Grandkids.  However, I still get reactions to chocolate.  Could you tell me the brand(s) of chocolate / cocoa powder you have used that seem to be safe?  I only eat chocolate at the Holidays, or for a special occasion.  Thanks so much for your very inspirational blogs.  I always appreciate you!  ~ Maria

    • gfshoestring

      Hi, Maria,
      I would try using Rodelle Cocoa Powder when you are looking for Dutch-processed. It is gluten-free. For natural cocoa powder, stick with Hershey’s. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Shawn

    I adore you.  I don’t think anyone has ever, EVER thought that my cookies have been made by someone else.  But I love that you think it’s a possibilty. 

    • gfshoestring

      Shawn I literally laughed out loud when I read this. You really make me smile. I believe you could make cookies that fool people!
      xoxo Nicole

      • Shawn

        Thanks!  Hope springs enternal.  :)

  • Carol

    I cannot begin to tell you how much I love you, your cook books and now your frequent recipes! Gluten Free on a Shoestring was my first cookbook and it is still my favorite.  Without you and your wisdom and creativity I would be lost.  No fancy ingredients, great advice and uplifting concern. 
    I am a missionary in Guatemala so many “common” things are not available to me but I do have most of the staples I need ( I LOVE BETTERBATTER!  They are so good to us!)
    Thank you for encouraging us daily in our gluten free walk!
    May the Lord bless you as you continue to serve others!

  • Michele

    Hi there Nicole,
    I can’t wait to try all these lovely cookies. I have both of your books. The first on I bought after being first diagnosed..I was to scared to use. Now 3 years not this, have he 2nd book and LOVE IT! The drop biscuits were AMAZING.. I am looking forward to making them every weekend, then trying them with gravy. I so missed biscuits and gravy as a comfort breakfast stable going it on a weekend morning.

    We purchased a mini donut hole maker just so I can make the donut recipes through the blogs and books! Woohoo…baking fiend once again.

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