Shortbread for all

Here is a cookie for every dietary restriction!
I was recently lucky enough to reconnect with a lot of old friends – and their new babies – at a wedding.  I was given a compliment – a request for some of my cute and tasty shortbread cookies for the occasion.  I was also given a challenge – one of my new mommy friends was on one heck of restricted diet to accommodate her little one’s sensitivities – no wheat, no dairy, no soy.  What?! What am I supposed to put in these cookies??  Challenge on!

I had some serious fun in the bulk section of the food co-op.  I did a lot of experimenting and came up with some delicious cookies suitable for darned near any allergy!  I also figured out a few general rules for shortbread cookies with almost limitless variations.

So, here it is – my secret to shortbread cookies!  This is my general base recipe for my favorite little whole grain cookies – you can make a ton of alterations to this recipe!  Try a different kind of flour, try an alternative shortening, add some flavorful spices or herbs.  Almost anything is possible once you have the basics down!

  • Ingredients
                >> prep steps
  • 1/2 cup            Shortening
    (butter or veggie or vegan alternative, just use something solid at room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup           Super fine sugar
    (powdered is ideal, or try maple or dehydrated cane juice for a rich flavor change up)

>> Cream together with a fork (or mixer)

  • 1/2 tsp            Vanilla extract
  • 1  cup              Flour
    (great place to experiment! just make sure the total adds up to 1 cup, if you are using non-wheat alternative flours you might want to combine 2 or even 3 to adjust the texture)
  • 1  tbs               Arrow root flour (helps firm & hold together a gluten free cookie)
  • 1  tsp               Guar gum (helps firm & hold together a gluten free cookie)

>> Mix together with other ingredients


Cooking Directions

>>  Roll into a dough log ~2 inches in diameter
>>  Wrap the dough log in the wax paper and chill in the fridge for at least an hour, or even over night if you’re a planner.
>>  Slice the dough log into shortbread medallions ~ 1/4 inch thick.
>>  Arrange them on a cookie sheet (they don’t spread much, so pack ‘em in) and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Cool completely before icing.


My favorite of the experiments – Coconut & Almond shortbreads

For shortening use coconut butter – it gives a great tropical flavor.For the flour use ½ sorghum flour and ½ almond meal – so rich and nutty.
For this one you also need to add 1 egg white to the base recipe – the almond meal is much denser and more crumbly than most flours, so the egg white provides a little food glue.

I was also pretty pleased with this non-dairy creamy icing for these cookies

  • 2 tbs                coconut milk
  • 1 tsp                orange zest
  • 2 beans            scrape the seeds from 2 vanilla beans
  • 2 cups              powdered sugar

>> add the sugar slowly, stirring well, until the frosting is thick
>> drizzle or pipe onto the cookies – get as creative as you please!


My next creations to test out –
Figure out a ratio for replacing solid shortening with olive oil
Make a savory shortbread cookie – with bacon!


Nutritional Info
(serving = 1 cookie – avg. may very by optional additions)
Cal                   ~65
Carbs               ~7 grams
Protein             ~1 grams
Fat                   ~4 grams



3 Responses to “Shortbread for all”

  1. Kara June 29, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    Have you considered using palm oil instead of shortening? I’m not sure how well it would work, but it is solid at room temp and is supposed to be much healthier than traditional shortening.

  2. Kara June 29, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    Wait a minute…never mind! What I have is coconut oil that is solid at room temp, but I do think the same goes for palm oil, doesn’t it?

  3. coocoo-cachoo June 30, 2011 at 12:01 am #

    In fact I have tried palm oil – and yes it is solid at room temp. In fact soy margarine or palm oil margarine seem to be the main vegan alternatives to butter. I made some shortbreads (actually the green ones at the wedding) using a palm oil margarine. I kinda thought they had a bit of a funky flavor – could have been the processing more than the palm oil itself though. Could have also been flour it was paired with. Ah – always so much room for experimentation!

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