Monday, February 13, 2012

Gluten-Free Valentine Shortbread Cookies

Valentines for Everyone

I started making these cookies years and years ago for Valentine's Day. They were cute. They were yummy.

And they were full of gluten.

After I had to become gluten-free, I didn't make these cookies for a few years. I didn't know how to make them without gluten.

Then, a couple of years ago, I tried experimenting with different flours and recipes. Here's what I've come up with.

And now, there is no reason why us gluten-free eaters can't have our Valentine cookies too!

Gluten-Free Valentine Shortbread Cookies

1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
1/8 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) - room temperature
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

strawberry or raspberry jam
powdered sugar

Mix together the first six ingredients, set aside.

Cream the butter until light and smooth.

Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, several minutes on high speed.

Stir in the vanilla. Mix well. Stir in the dry ingredients in small batches, blending well between each addition and mix until well incorporated.

Cut parchment paper to fix your cookie sheet and very lightly flour it. White rice flour works well for this purpose. Roll out about a quarter of the dough between the parchment paper you cut to fit and another piece on top. Using your favorite cookie cutters, cut out widely spaced hearts. Do not remove the hearts from the paper. Instead, remove all the excess dough, leaving the hearts in place. If making cutout hearts, remove the center of the hearts.

If you cut the hearts far enough apart, you won't have to move them. Just carefully place the entire sheet of paper and hearts directly on your cookie sheet for baking.

My daughter wanted to help with these and was having fun rolling and re-rolling our dough. She was pretty good at sliding the loaded parchment paper to the pan. She chose to use a sharp knife to trim away the excess dough from the cut hearts. I heard a big, "Ooops!" when I was pulling a cookie sheet out of the oven and wasn't looking. Don't worry, no blood! I think she smooshed a heart. But that's okay, since she could just re-roll it.

Bake in a 350º oven for 8-15 minutes, depending on thickness. The thinner the cookies, the quicker they cook and the crispier they will be. If you want softer cookies, roll them thicker and bake them a little longer.

Once they are baked, transferring the hot cookies intact is a bit tricky. They will be soft. We don't want you to break your hearts like I did, so let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before moving them. Then, using a wide spatula, carefully move each heart to a cooling rack. Be sure not to bend the cookie or let it sag off of the spatula. These break really easily.

We don't want any more broken hearts in this world!

You can see how some of mine turned out lighter than others. The thickness varied a little bit between rollings, so the baking time varied. You just need to watch them.

Also, the cutout hearts brown faster than the solid hearts. I recommend making a full sheet of cutouts, and then bake the solid hearts on a separate sheet. That's not what we did, but I will do it that way next time.

The cutout hearts also browned more than the solid hearts and they seemed to hold together better. I physically broke two hearts when we made these and both of them were solid hearts. I can't speak for their emotions. Or those of the cutout hearts. My emotions were in turmoil.

Just try not to break any more hearts out there, people!

After allowing the cookies to cool completely, carefully cover each solid heart with strawberry or raspberry jam. Any red or pink or even purple jam looks great. We had strawberry on hand, so I used that. Raspberry is my favorite.

Then, don't be like me. Don't place your cutout hearts on top of the jammed up solid hearts. No, don't do it. Not yet.

Instead, sift powdered sugar over each cutout heart before you put it on the jammed solid hearts. You'll thank me later. Then, ever-so-very-carefully-without-touching-that-beautiful-powdered-sugar, place each cutout on the center of a jammed solid heart.


Then I had to mess with it.

I couldn't resist the temptation to cut a strawberry into a heart. We had a whole, extra large container of glistening red, ripe strawberries on the counter. I couldn't just ignore their beautiful redness. They would feel left out of all the fun. Their buddies were made into jam and getting all the glory! They are almost in the shape of a heart anyways.

Please forgive me. My teenage daughter did. She thought the heart strawberry was cute.

These cookies are very delicate and will break with even the slightest mishandling. I hope this is the most delicate part of your Valentine's plans.

Handle with care, and you will be rewarded.

The taste of these shortbread cookies is fabulous! You won't be worrying about breakage after you bite into these. You'll only be concerned with not missing out on any of them!

Give your love some of these special gluten-free Valentine lovelies! They'll love you for it!

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