For the first time in 36 years, I spent Christmas Day alone. I live in Glasgow, my family is in the United States, and my partner had gone home to visit his family. This left me to enjoy all the fine Scottish weather (rain and wind, every day) and the delightful seven hours of daylight we get at that time of year. Don’t worry, I got to go home on the 29th, when it was significantly cheaper to fly.
I decided that I was going to make the best of my solo Christmas, so I bought a cheap fake tree and decorated it. I made plans to cook myself all my favorite Christmas dinner foods – ham, mashed potatoes, asparagus – the works. Then I decided I shouldn’t miss out on gluten free cookies, either, so I whipped up these before Christmas. I didn’t want to make a full batch of gluten free shortbread, but I wanted a little variety, so I halved the inspiration recipe, modified it to use the salted butter I had on hand and to reduce the sugar a bit, and did two flavors of icing. I ended up with about 24 small (two-bite) cookies.
Gluten free shortbread cookies (small batch)
5/8 cup (87.5 g) all-purpose gluten free flour (I used *Doves Farm, but I also like *King Arthur)
1/4 teaspoon *xanthan gum
1/8 cup (18 g) *corn starch (in UK, corn flour)
2 ½ tablespoons (31 g) *caster or granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (56 g) salted butter, softened
Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the butter and use a fork to blend it in. Once you’ve done what you can with the fork, switch to your hands. You will probably be concerned that your dough is too dry and crumbly, but once you warm the butter with your hands, it’ll start to come together into a ball of dough.
Roll the dough into a tube on a piece of parchment paper, then square off the sides. Roll the tube up in the parchment paper, wrapping the ends, and stick the whole thing in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Do not skip this step – your now-warmed butter needs to cool back down so you can slice the dough later. Now preheat your oven to 375F/190C while your dough is chilling. I also used this time to make my icing (recipes below).
After the 10 minutes has passed, take out your tube of dough and slice it into 3/8 inch (1 cm) slices. You’ll finish with a whole bunch of uniform round (or if you’re me, square) cookies. Spread them out on your parchment paper, leaving at least an inch (2.5 cm) between them. Remember, they are full of butter, so when they bake, they will spread out a bit! Bake for 7-8 minutes – the edges will be just a touch golden.
Don’t wait for brown – brown tastes bad! Once baked, take them off the pan to cool. If you’re not into icing, you’re done! Eat (once cool) and enjoy.
However, if you are into icing – now you’re ready to go! Just spread either (or both) of the icings below across the top of your cookies.
(recipe is enough to cover batch of cookies as described above – if you’re doing two flavors, just make half of each icing recipe)
¼ cup (18 g) *powdered sugar (in UK, icing sugar)
2 teaspoons fresh citrus juice (I have used lemon and lime, orange should also work)
Just mix these two ingredients together in a bowl. Your icing should be wetter than paste, but not runny. If it’s too dry, add a little more juice (1/8 tsp at a time.) If it’s super runny, you can add a little more powdered sugar to thicken it.
(recipe is enough to cover batch of cookies as described above)
Again, mix it all together in a bowl, aiming for a consistency that will spread on a cookie but not run all over the place.
Bonus style points
To make my cookies look festive, I smashed up a candy cane (put it in a Ziploc bag, seal it, smash it with a frying pan or rolling pin) and sprinkled the candy cane dust over the mocha iced cookies. The chocolate plus the peppermint was a really nice combination!
I didn’t have any food coloring or sprinkles, but the citrus icing would look cool either colored to match the fruit you’ve used (green/yellow/orange) or coated with sugar sprinkles in that color.
If you’re not making these at Christmas, just decorate accordingly – you could do heart sprinkles for Valentine’s Day, multi-color for Easter, orange for Halloween – the possibilities are endless.
That’s it – just a few ingredients and the whole thing took about half an hour from start to finish. Let me know how these easy gluten free shortbread cookies turn out for you!
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