Crisp, light gluten free Almond Shortbread cookies made using almond flour. These almond biscuits have a good snap, buttery shortbread texture and taste delicious. Can be made dairy free/vegan.
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Gluten Free Almond Shortbread – An Update
This gluten free Almond Shortbread is a recipe from my earlier blog days. In need of a little TLC, a remake and update was long overdue. The recipe has also been tweaked slightly, to make it less ‘gritty’ from too much rice flour and also to make the dough easier to work with.
It still tastes as good as it ever did. Rich and almondy, with a crisp yet buttery texture.
A Good Gluten Free Shortbread is Hard to Find
Search the internet and there are now a load of gluten free shortbread recipes on offer. Some are good. Many are not. But it remains hard to find a recipe that ticks all the ‘good shortbread’ boxes.
- Does it hold its shape and not crumble…? Tick ✔️
- Has it got a good buttery shortbread texture…? Tick ✔️
- It isn’t too gritty… Tick ✔️
- It tastes great, but isn’t too sweet… Tick ✔️
Whilst appreciating that this may be a minority view, I cannot stand gritty shortbread. Or for that matter, gritty anything! It isn’t pleasant to eat, irritates my throat and reminds me of cold British beach holidays… Eating sandy sandwich picnics in the wind.
Gluten free ‘grit’ comes from using too much standard rice flour in a recipe. Yet rice flour seems to be the fall-back strategy for most gluten free shortbread recipes. Whether shop-bought or home-made, the list of ingredients use either majority or entirely rice flour. As a result, I’ve long-since given up buying gluten free shortbread in the shops… even at Christmas.
These shortbread cookies are not bog-standard shortbread, admittedly. They are gluten free Almond Shortbread cookies. And they are made using real almond flour, with no rice flour. That means a great shortbread texture, without the grit.
Rice Flour & its Association with Arsenic
A ‘ricey’ texture may be something you like. Some people do. And that’s just fine. But another reason for avoiding the use of too much rice flour in baking and also flour blends, is that in recent years, it has come to be associated with arsenic risk.
If you are consuming a lot of rice-flour based products (which may include many commercial gluten free baked foods), it may be worth exploring some of the research around potential links with arsenic consumption. It’s something I have written about elsewhere in my consideration of gluten free flours and flour blends. So if you want more information and some other onward links, head over to the page and check them out.
What Flour Do I Use for Gluten Free Almond Shortbread?
These gluten free almond shortbread biscuits are not simply flavoured with almond extract. In fact, you don’t have to add any almond extract at all. I don’t! Why? Because this shortbread is literally almond shortbread… Made using a flour blend that is in good part, powdered blanched almonds.
Different to ground almonds (or almond meal), the almond flour used is much finer and a little drier than the ground almonds I would normally use in baking.
Okay… It is, without doubt, more expensive than ordinary flour. But it is rich in protein, tastes incredible, bakes beautifully and takes some of the guilt out of a cookie binge! I bought mine on-line, but be careful to make sure you are getting the POWDERED variety of almond flour and not plain ground almonds… Ground almonds and almond flour are terms that are used interchangeably, so be sure to study the small print.
Also be sure to check the gluten free certification if you are Coeliac. Some of the almond flour that I have seen (including the one from Holland & Barrett has a ‘may contain’ warning for gluten.
RealFoodSource Organic almond flour is the type of flour that you need. It also works wonderfully in pastry dough too and is the base flour used for many Macaron.
I don’t recommend making almond flour at home
If you are very brave, you could try making almond flour at home, but the process is quite fiddly and not at all straight forward. I have not managed to achieve it and probably don’t have the patience or the time to get it right. Sadly it is not just a case of blitzing the almonds in a food processor. The high fat content means you are likely to end up with almond butter!
But then… What’s the worst that could happen? Almond butter is amazing spread on toast! Or you could make an almond version of my Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies.
Drying Almond Flour Shortbread for the Best ‘Snap’
Because of the higher oil content, almond flour doesn’t always lend itself to an obvious ‘snap’. For this reason and to improve texture, the almond flour has been balanced with tapioca flour for this gluten free almond shortbread recipe.
Having said this, it also helps to ‘dry the shortbread’ as part of the cooking process. Although you could just bake them for longer, you don’t want them over-baked (an over-brown shortbread is not attractive). So the easiest thing to do (and its a technique that I often use for drier-textured biscuits), is to turn the oven off as soon as the shortbread are baked… Let a little heat out to stop any further browning, but leave them in the oven to cool as the oven cools.
It works a dream… and you will end up with a snap even Mr Hollywood would be proud of.
Can I make Almond Flour Shortbread Dairy Free or Vegan?
Because the ingredients in these Almond Shortbread cookies are quite straight forward, it is easy to substitute the butter for a dairy free alternative if you can’t or don’t eat dairy. Just be sure to choose a good quality brand which is as creamy as possible for the best flavour.
Subbing the butter will also, by default, make these cookies vegan too.
Will You Make gluten free almond shortbread Cookies?
I’d love for you to try my gluten free almond shortbread cookies. They have a wonderful flavour and are perfect enjoyed with a cuppa. Alternatively, they are a yummy accompaniment to a bowl of Cherry Ice Cream, or even No Churn Baileys Ice Cream. Are delicious with a home-made Vanilla Panna Cotta or simply topped with a dollop of Rhubarb Curd or Citrus Curd. And they pair wonderfully for a contrasting crunch with either my Best Chocolate Mousse or my Vegan Chocolate-Avocado Mousse.
If you do make them, I’d love you to tell me about it. Leave a comment at the bottom of this post, Contact me direct, or tag me on social media…. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are all good!
Gluten Free Almond Shortbread
- silicone/wooden spoon or spatula
- cookie cutter(s)
- 150 g unsalted butter (or dairy free alternative) softened (block variety)
- 100 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or almond extract for stronger almond flavour
- 115 g fine ground almond flour (not ground almonds/almond meal) See NOTES
- 110 g tapioca (starch) flour
- 2 tbsp (approx) milk dairy or non-dairy
- extra caster sugar for sprinkling
- Pre-heat the oven to 160 C Fan/170 C/ 325 F/Gas 3.
- Line a couple of large baking sheets with baking paper.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla (or almond extract) using an electric whisk, until light and fluffy.
- Add the almond flour, tapioca flour and 1 tablespoon of milk and mix with a firm mixing spoon or spatula until the mixture starts to clump into a dough. If the mixture still looks too dry, gradually add a little more milk about ½ tablespoon at a time until it comes together. You don't want it to be 'wet', but it does need to blend into a dough.
- Bring the dough together with lightly floured hands and very lightly work with the hands until smooth.
- Whilst the dough is at room temperature, cut in half and place on a lightly floured work top (I lay a piece of lightly floured baking paper for best non-stick). Lightly dust the top of the dough with GF flour and roll out to a thickness of about 5mm.
- Cut the dough into shapes using cookie cutters and place on the prepared baking trays. The cookies shouldn't spread, so you don't need to leave a large gap between them.
- Roll the second half of dough as above and re-roll any remaining dough, cutting biscuit shapes until all the dough is used.
- Sprinkle the tops of the uncooked biscuits with a little extra caster sugar.
- Bake for 10 to 15 minutes (turning the trays part way through for an even bake), until beginning to firm and just starting to colour at the edges (you do not want the biscuits to start browning fully).
- At this point, turn the oven off and open the oven door for about 30 to 60 seconds to allow the temperature to drop slightly, so that the biscuits don't brown any further.
- Leaving the biscuits in the oven, close the door and leave them to cool inside the cooling oven. This will give the best snap. (You can choose to take from the oven and leave to cool on the trays, but the result will be far crisper using the first method).
- Once cool, store the shortbread in an airtight container.
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