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.
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!