Every morning growing up my mom would give us cookies for breakfast. Yes, cookies, and we loved every minute of it. On the kitchen breakfast table, my brother Bernardo and I would find our favorites—Chips Ahoy! Chocolate Chip Cookies, Pepperidge Farm Milano Cookies, Archway Soft Iced Oatmeal Cookies and Peek Freans Nice Cookies. But when the holidays rolled around, there would be a shining tin of shortbread cookies, each variety nestled in its fluted white paper wrapper. My favorites were the ones with the bumpy sugar coating. There’s just something about that crunch.
This memory led me to make my own shortbread cookies—gluten-free and dairy-free, of course. Luckily, shortbread dough is one of the most forgiving doughs I’ve ever worked with—and it can adapt to suit your needs and desires. Shape it into a log or roll it out into a crust. Stir in some cocoa powder, spices, chopped dried fruit, citrus zest or even a splash of eggnog, it won’t mind. And, of course, you can always dip your cooled baked cookies in melted chocolate to coat. I don’t think anyone would mind that.
The dough is a bit crumbly—just the way you want it.
Here, I shaped the dough into squares, brushed on a little beaten egg white and sprinkled over sanding sugar to coat completely.
For ingredient substitutions, please see the detailed chart at Gluten-Free 101.
1¼ cups finely ground blanched almonds, such as Honeyville
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, buttery sticks or shortening, at room temperature
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg white, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 325º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the flour, ground almonds and salt to a food processor; pulse until blended.
- Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, confectioners' sugar and vanilla on low speed until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until combined. Place onto a confectioners' sugar or flour dusted piece of parchment paper; shape into a flat disk. Wrap in the parchment and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Roll the dough out on the same piece of parchment until ½-inch thick; cut into shapes with a cookie cutter or cut into squares or rectangles with a pizza wheel. Place the cookies about ½-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet; brush lightly with the egg white and sprinkle generously with the sanding sugar. Bake until the edges begin to brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining dough.
If you prefer straight edges instead of rounded, just refrigerate the cut-out cookies for about 30 minutes before baking.