Shortbread was one of the first baking recipes I ever learned. This makes sense, I guess, since it’s such a simple cookie: the most basic recipes call only for butter, flour, salt, and a little sugar. And it doesn’t require any ornate decorating. Some rolling, scoring, and a few fork pricks are just fine.
Needless to say, my first few shortbread batches involved regular butter and flour. Today, I modify the recipe to be vegan, and this holiday season, I’ve also created a version that’s perfect for gluten and wheat-free eaters. This vegan, gluten-free holiday citrus shortbread is festive, simple to make, and it tastes every bit like the orange-scented shortbread cookies I loved making when I was in middle school (guided by my trusty stack of Martha Stewart Christmas cookbooks).
This is my first attempt at gluten-free shortbread, in spite of the fact that I’m always trying to find holiday baking recipes that are both vegan-friendly and GF. So many friends (or family members of friends) need one or both accommodations, and I love baking edible goods that everyone can enjoy and share.
I’m crediting my crumbly, crispy, super authentic cookie results to Pamela’s All-Purpose Flour Artisan Blend. I’ve always known it to be one of the most popular gluten-free flours out there, and now I see why. This was my first time using it, and—having now tried it in muffins and my gluten-free gingerbread cake, too—I think it’s totally on par with a homemade GF flour blend, which I usually recommend over a store-bought blend. I’d never guess that these cookies are gluten-free, and I can’t make that claim for all of my gluten-free baked goods.
The flour is vegan, non-GMO, and it has no xanthan gum (an ingredient I’ve found a bit tricky to work with in the past). I combined the flour with Pamela’s Nut Flour Blend—a mix of almonds, pecans, coconuts, and walnuts—for a melt-in-your-mouth crumb, and I was so happy with the results. The cookies are just the right amount of crispy and tender.
Pamela’s is celebrating gluten-free, festive favorites for all this month, and I’m happy to have contributed a vegan recipe to their showcase! The cookie bonanza includes a weekly holiday sweepstakes on the Pamela’s Facebook page and a rich collection of gluten-free recipes on the company website.
One of my favorite bloggers, Lindsey of Cafe Johnsonia (who taught me how to make perfect slow cooker black beans), contributed some egg nog slice and bake cookies that look stellar (and could be veganized with vegan butter and egg replacer). I’m also drooling over her vegan chai spiced snowball cookies, and these Linzer cutout cookies, which are also easy to veganize.
Along with being easy and tasty, the shortbread is perfect for gifting. It travels well and will keep at room temperature for up to one week. The cookies also sweet without being too sweet, which means that they’re as appropriate for having with a cup of afternoon tea as they are for dessert. I’m definitely planning to box them up for some of my special people this year.
Vegan, Gluten-Free Holiday Citrus Shortbread
- 1 lb 2 sticks vegan butter
- 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar this makes the cookie crumb really tender, but you can substitute cane sugar if that's what you have
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons orange zest about 1 large orange's worth, plus 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed juice from the fruit
- 2 cups Pamela's All-Purpose Flour Artisan Blend*
- 3/4 cup Pamela's Nut Flour Blend or almond flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer and a large mixing bowl), beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until they're fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, orange zest, and orange juice.
- Add the flours and salt (you can do this in two rounds to avoid flour flying everywhere as you mix) and mix at low speed till the dough is well combined. It will be soft. Shape it into two disks, wrap it with saran, and transfer to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to chill.
- Preheat your oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Flour a clean surface and use a rolling pin to roll the disks of dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut the dough into shapes, then transfer them to the baking sheets. Prick each cookie a couple times with a fork. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies are firmed up, but not browning (it's OK if they're just barely golden, but they shouldn't get dark at the edges). Transfer the baking sheets to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, then transfer the cookies from the sheet to the rack and allow them to cool entirely before enjoying.
If you’d like a slightly different flavor, you can try the cookies with either lemon or lime zest and juice (I’m thinking meyer lemon would be pretty wonderful). And you can feel free to get as creative with the decorating/cutting as you like! I kept it simple with a single cookie cutter shape, but you could use as many as you like when you’re putting cookie boxes together.
If you’ve got a vegan and gluten-free eater in your life (or someone who’s either/or), perhaps this’ll be the perfect edible gift to share in the coming week. I hope so. And if you’d like more cookie options to leave by the tree, here are some of my all time holiday favorites (all of which you can make GF by swapping in Pamela’s All-Purpose Flour Artisan Blend):
Happy baking, friends. I’ll be checking in later this week with one more ultra-simple, hearty legume and grain dish to keep you grounded as we enter the final stretch of 2018.
This post is sponsored by Pamela’s Products. All opinions are my own, and I think these baking mixes are awesome. Thanks for your support!