These delicate gluten free meltaway cookies are a cross between a butter cookie and shortbread, and really do melt in your mouth. Make them as drop cookies or roll them out and cut out shapes. Your favorite new blonde cookie!
First things first: these are not shortbread cookies (and clearly not brown sugar shortbread cookies). Shortbread cookies have no chemical leavener (baking powder, baking soda) at all. These cookies have baking powder.
Similar in many ways to butter cookies, meltaway cookies are made with flour, baking powder, butter, and sugar. But instead of the egg yolks in butter cookies, which make for a richer cookie, these meltaway cookies are made with an egg white.
They’re also made with a mixture of all purpose gluten free flour and cornstarch. They’re pretty light on sugar, with only 2/3 cup in the whole batch. And the sugar is confectioners’ sugar, which is feather light.
Cutout cookies that always hold their shape
The raw dough for these meltaway cookies is so easy to handle that I found myself wondering if it could be rolled out and cut into shapes, much like some of my favorite cutout cookies. Even though there is plenty of rich butter in them, I found that they hold their shape even when the dough isn’t chilled at all.
I have some instructions for how to make cutout shapes into gluten free bunny cookies for Easter. But of course they’re perfect for any holiday and will hold any shape—even shapes with delicate and complicated elements like a witch’s hat for Halloween.
It is easier to cut out shapes and move them to the baking sheet if the dough is a bit chilled. Simply roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper as described in the recipe. Then slide the dough onto a cutting board and place it in the freezer for a few minutes or the refrigerator for a few more.
Once the dough is chilled, a cookie cutter will easily cut clean edges. Plus, the shapes will be easier to transfer to the baking sheet.
Drop cookies or cutout cookies
Drop cookies are always the easiest thing to make. If you’re new to baking or you’re just tight on time, I recommend starting with the drop cookie instructions in the recipe card below.
Pressing the top of each disk of cookie dough with the moistened tines of a fork adds some visual interest to the cookies and helps keep them from cracking when they rise. I’ve never tried using a cookie press with this dough, but I think it would work so well.
I love adding just a few miniature chocolate chips to this dough because they’re so lightly in every way. The chips add the perfect richness and create a really nice balance. I also have a lemony version of these cookies that taste amazingly different, too.
But making these into cutout cookies isn’t at all difficult. In fact, the dough doesn’t need to be chilled at all for baking, so you can roll out the dough, cut out shapes, and pop them right in the oven.
If you’re struggling at all with dough that’s too soft, that probably means that your butter was too soft at the start. No worries, just roll out the dough and place it in the refrigerator to chill for a few minutes before cutting out rounds.
Ingredients and substitutions
The dairy in this recipe comes only from the butter. I haven’t tried replacing it, but I would recommend trying half Melt Vegan butter (or Earth Balance buttery sticks) and half nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening.
If you use a butter replacement that has too much moisture, like all Earth Balance buttery sticks would have, the cookies will spread and not keep their shape and edges. If you use all shortening, which has nearly no moisture, the cookie dough will be dry and the cookies fragile.
Be sure to use dairy-free chocolate chips if you’re adding them. My favorite brand for taste alone is Enjoy Life, and they’re top 8 allergen-free.
In place of the egg white, you can try using aquafaba. Aquafaba is simply the liquid from a can of chickpeas.
The cornstarch in this recipe can be replaced with arrowroot quite easily. Confectioners’ sugar is typically made with cornstarch, though. So be sure you’re using corn-free confectioners’ sugar.
You might be able to replace the confectioners’ sugar in this recipe with Swerve brand powdered sugar replacement. Alternative sugars do tend to be drying, though, so you’ll have to add more water. Add it slowly, though, since you can’t remove it once it’s added.
Gluten Free Meltaway Cookies
1 1/2 cups (210 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1/3 cup (48 g) cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup (77 g) confectioners’ sugar
12 tablespoons (168 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg white (25 g), at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Lukewarm water by the half-teaspoonful, as necessary
4 ounces miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
Make the dough. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and confectioners’ sugar, and whisk to combine well. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the butter, egg white, and vanilla, and mix to combine. The dough will be thick and smooth. Add water by the half-teaspoonful and mix it in as necessary to bring the dough together. If you’d like to make any cut-out cookies, set some of the plain dough aside. Add the (optional) chocolate chips and mix the dough until the chips are evenly spaced throughout.
For drop cookies, scoop the dough by the heaping tablespoon (an overfull #70 ice cream scoop is ideal here, but two spoons work well, too) onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 1/2-inches between pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a round between the palms of your hands, and press down slightly into a thick disk. With the moistened tines of a fork, press down on the top of each piece of dough until the tines leave an impression about 1/4-inch deep.
For cutout cookies, place the plain dough between two sheets of unbleached parchment paper and roll out the dough about 1/4-inch to 1/3-inch thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and cut out shapes using a floured cookie cutter. Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheet, placing them about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake until lightly golden brown on the edges and firm to the touch (about 12 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet before serving. These cookies freeze very well.
Adapted from Once Upon a Chef. Original recipe posted in 2015. Most photos new, video new, recipe unchanged except for some added language about how to make cut-out cookies.