Serious Eats: Recipes

Gluten-Free Tuesday: Shortbread Cookies

[Photographs: Elizabeth Barbone]

Made with four simple ingredients—flour, sugar, salt, and butter—shortbread cookies seem like the baguettes of the cookie world. And like a crusty baguette with a warm meal, there's just something comforting about a good shortbread cookie.

This comforting simplicity prompted me to offer 25 batches of homemade shortbread cookies to a recent fundraiser for food blogger Jennifer Perillo. Over the last few days, I've baked dozens of shortbread cookies for virtual strangers, and I learned a few things along the way about these simple cookies.

1. Don't overmix. Shortbread cookies are dense affairs. Over-mixing the butter causes their texture to become too light and crumbly. When preparing the dough, don't cream the butter and sugar so much that it becomes light and fluffy.

2. Take your time. Since these cookies contain no eggs, there's no moisture to coax the ingredients quickly into a dough. Once the dry ingredients are added to the butter and sugar paste, it takes a little while for a dough to form. At first the dough seems incredibly sandy--you might even worry that it's not coming together—don't fret like I did the first time I made a batch! The dough does come together after two or three minutes of mixing. Don't rush it and don't give up. The wait's worth it.

3. Re-rolling is welcome. With no gluten to make things tough, you can roll and re-roll this dough until every last piece is used. Since these cookies are so rich, I make about two dozen 2 1/2-inch cookies from one batch, gathering and re-rolling the dough as needed to get this many cookies.

About the author: Elizabeth Barbone of GlutenFreeBaking.com joins us every Tuesday with a new gluten-free recipe. Elizabeth is an alumna of the Culinary Institute of America and Mount Mary College. With her solid professional baking background, Elizabeth is known for creating gluten-free recipes that taste just like their wheat counterparts. She is the author of Easy Gluten-Free Baking.

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