These Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits are melt-in-the-mouth delicious. A ‘must’ in the repertoire of any baker, they are light, crisp and delightfully buttery, dotted with little bites of chocolate sweetness. The cookies are not only gluten free, but are naturally egg free, nut free and optional dairy free/vegan.
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Taking incredible gluten free further with Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits (Cookies)
Every gluten free cookie collection should have a recipe for Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits… Light, crisp melt-in-the-mouth treats, dotted with little nobbles of chocolate sweetness. And with the recent successful development of my Gluten Free Shortbread Petticoat Tails, it seemed only right to add a little chocolate love to the mix.
Those of you who know me, will know I am super-picky about both the flavour and texture of my bakes. So taking my shortbread recipe one stage further also allowed a little extra ‘playing with ingredients’, to ensure I was still 100% happy with both. While the base recipe for Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits is almost identical to my original Shortbread Petticoat Tails, I did uncover a couple of additional insights along the way that are shared with you in this post. These insights have now also been added to the previous post.
Ingredients to make Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits
It’s really easy to make Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Shortbread. Which means they’re also perfect cookies for kids to bake too. But first things first… Let me talk you through the ingredients and why they are in the recipe…
I have always eaten Shortbread that is ‘all butter’. It’s traditionally how it was made in Scotland and I’m fortunate enough to be able to tolerate dairy. If you too can eat dairy then absolutely use it when making shortbread. It makes a HUGE difference to the flavour, creaminess and melt-in-the-mouth shortness of the final biscuits.
If you can’t eat dairy, then just switch the butter for a like-for-like BLOCK dairy free (yellow) alternative. Although the cookies may not be quite as creamy, they will still be exceptionally delicious.
Sugar is one of the ingredients that has been tested to the hilt in developing my Gluten Free Shortbread recipes. With so many sugar variants now available, I consider it my duty to try and test several!
As explained in my previous post, I think caster sugar (also known as superfine sugar) produces a superior Shortbread texture when compared to biscuits made with all icing sugar (powdered sugar).
However… Creating my Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits allowed me to play some more… And what I found was that adding a small amount of icing sugar alongside caster sugar takes the texture up a rung in smoothness. Nonetheless, the ratio between the two is finely balanced. For a single batch, using 50g caster sugar to 20g icing sugar is the perfect combination. More than this and the cookies become too ‘pasty’ and powdery.
With caster sugar, its fine granulation is important. But if you prefer a darker, more ‘caramel’ undertone, then it’s fine to use ‘golden’ caster sugar instead (which is a little less refined). In America, you can also probably get away with using ‘granulated’ sugar, which I understand is finer in grind than the UK version.
Gluten Free Flour Blend
To get a good Shortbread texture, this recipe uses a combination of plain white gluten free flour mix blended with extra corn starch (UK cornflour). When developing my Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits however, I took the opportunity to retest the optimum amount of corn starch. Naively, I thought that adding more would make the biscuits ‘smoother’. I was wrong! Too much corn starch and the cookies became more crumbly with an unpleasant ‘powdery’ texture. So balance (it would seem) is crucial.
With regard to the main gluten free flour blend however, the recipe should work well with most good commercial mixes. I use my own Gluten Free Alchemist Blend A (the recipe for which is at the bottom of my ‘What is Gluten Free Flour?’ page). But a blend such as Doves Freee Plain White Flour is also fine to use. Or… If you want to go rice-free and are happy with a darker bake, my Flour Blend B (also on the Gluten Free Flour Page) is another good option to try.
Either way, I don’t recommend using commercial ‘self-raising’ flour, as the amount of baking powder already added to the blend will result in bubbly, over-puffed biscuits.
My shortbread recipe was tested with and without xanthan gum at varying levels. It’s necessary to add a very small amount (or an alternative binder) to help the biscuit structure. But not so much that the cookies become ‘slimy’ in the mouth.
When I say ‘small amount’ I’m literally talking about ⅓ teaspoon (which weighs 1 gram on my dual platform scales)… Up to a maximum of ½ teaspoon if using a more ‘ricey’ flour blend.
If your flour blend already contains xanthan gum or another binder, then don’t add any more.
Baking powder or not in Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies?
Whether you add baking powder to your Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits is up to you. I’ve tested with and without! Both variants are delicious. The only difference is that adding a tiny amount of baking powder gives a slight increase in lightness to the final bake. By ‘tiny’, we’re talking ⅛ teaspoon (equivalent to 0.5g). More than this and the cookies may become ‘bubbly’ and misshapen.
Salt and sweet is a divine combination and salt is added for a reason… It enhances flavour! In sweet bakes like Shortbread, it also cuts through the richness, allowing the flavour of the other ingredients to shine, interspersed with delightful little pops of salty zing. Ultimately though, it’s about personal taste.
Shortbread should be vanillary… even when chocolate chips are involved. Vanilla brings depth of flavour and the taste of luxury which sits in harmony with the gentle sweetness of the biscuit. You don’t need a huge amount… But whether paste, powder or extract, it’s worthy of its place in the bake, and should not (in my opinion) be left out.
While developing Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies I asked myself many times ‘How many chocolate chips are too many chocolate chips?’. To some of you, this may be a strange question… and to others, the answer will always be ‘there’s never too many’. But in my household, it became quite a talking point… And for us, there was definitely a point at which ‘too many’ disrupted our enjoyment of eating the shortbread (regardless of whether we were young or old).
Thus, this recipe is balanced to ensure that the full vanilla sweetness and melt-in-the-mouth texture of the shortbread remains at the forefront of eating the biscuits… But that there are enough chocolate chips to be distributed several to each cookie, such that they remain worthy of the title ‘Chocolate Chip’ Shortbread Biscuits.
Whether you go plain, milk or white chocolate is entirely up to you. However, as a plain chocolate-loving family, we surprisingly preferred the milk chocolate version…
And if you are in the ‘there’s never too many chocolate chips’ camp, then it’s fine to add more… I certainly won’t stand in judgement!
How to make Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits that are also Dairy Free and Vegan
Not eating dairy is no barrier to delicious gluten free Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits… The only changes needed are to use a good like-for-like (BLOCK) dairy free alternative in place of the butter. In the UK, I recommend using either Flora Plant B+tter or Stork vegan blocks. AND to use dairy free/vegan chocolate.
As the recipe is already egg free, this simple dairy free change makes the shortbread Vegan as well.
Making Coeliac-safe, allergy-safe Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits
To ensure that your shortbread is safe for people with Coeliac Disease (Celiac) or specific allergies, it is essential that all ingredients used are certified safe and free from any risk of cross-contamination. To do this, it is important to check ALL ingredient labels. If unsure what to look for, head over to my page Coeliac Disease + Food for more information.
Rolling and Cutting Gluten Free Shortbread Biscuits
For shortbread biscuits with a well-defined shape, I absolutely advise that the dough should be chilled. While many recipes tell you to chill the dough before rolling and cutting, my advice is the opposite… The dough should be rolled, cut and then chilled. This is for two important reasons:
- The dough is at its most flexible after just mixing and while at room temperature. Thus it is easier to roll smoothly, as well as to cut and shape without cracking.
- Chilling the dough after cutting also ensures the dough biscuits are colder when they go into the oven, and thus less likely to spread with the initial heat.
Other advice for making the BEST Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits
While I’ve covered most of what you need to know above (and there’s honestly not much to go wrong when making shortbread), here are a few extra seeds of wisdom that may be worth bearing in mind…
- Always weigh ingredients accurately – changes in ratios affect the stability and texture of the dough.
- Try not to over-beat the butter and sugar. While it needs to be well blended, adding too much air from over-beating may result in crumbly, less stable shortbread.
- Gently massage the mixture together to form a dough using the back of a spoon or flat knife. And Do NOT add any extra moisture (even if it seems tempting).
- Be patient when mixing! It takes a little time for the flour to hydrate with the fat and to come together.
- Don’t overwork the dough! It should remain cool and should not be over-compressed to ensure a light shortbread texture.
- Keep an eye on the biscuits when baking. Shortbread should be light in colour. If the biscuits look like they are browning too quickly, turn the temperature down a notch and bake slower.
Ready to bake Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits?
The printable recipe card for my Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits is below (scroll down a little further). I hope you enjoy them.
If you love shortbread in all its forms, you’ll love our other shortbread recipes too… For the BEST simple plain Scottish Shortbread, head over to our recipe for Gluten Free Shortbread Petticoat Tails. Or alternatively, we have divine recipes for Almond Shortbread, Maple Shortbread and Hazelnut Shortbread.
And for everything else (including the most marvellous selection of tried and tested Gluten Free Biscuits and Cookies), our main Gluten Free Recipe Index is your starting point to an exciting new culinary journey. All shared for FREE with my love 🖤.
Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits
- electric whisk or firm silicone/wooden spoon
- 135 g unsalted butter or block dairy free alternative (softened)
- 50 g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 20 g icing sugar (powdered sugar) (or use the same weight additional caster sugar)
- ½ tsp vanilla paste or extract
- 205 g plain gluten free flour blend eg Gluten Free Alchemist mix A – see NOTES or Doves Freee
- 40 g corn starch (UK cornflour)
- ⅓ tsp xanthan gum (= 1 g) – leave out if flour blend used already contains xanthan or an alternative binder
- ⅛ tsp OPTIONAL baking powder (= 0.5 g) (very much optional)
- big pinch fine sea salt (to taste)
- 60 g chocolate chips (dairy free/vegan as required)
- extra sugar (caster or granulated) to sprinkle and/or melted dark chocolate to drizzle
- In a large bowl, beat together the softened butter with the sugars and vanilla until smooth and creamy. This can be done by whisk or by hand (do not over-beat… Stop when blended and creamy).
- Separately mix together the dry ingredients (flours, xanthan gum, baking powder (if using), salt and chocolate chips). Tip: weigh into a large airtight container and shake vigorously.
- Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter bowl and 'massage' together with the back of a firm mixing spoon, flat knife or spatula until it all starts to come together as a dough. This may take some time, but be patient and do NOT add any additional liquid or other ingredients to the mix.
- When the mixture is starting to form clumps, use hands to bring it all together into a smooth ball, but be careful not to 'knead' or overwork as the dough needs to remain cool and not to be over-compressed.
- Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
- On a separate piece of baking paper (non-stick), gently roll the dough to about 1½ cm thickness. It may be necessary to VERY lightly dust the top with flour to prevent it sticking to the rolling pin.
- Use a cookie cutter to cut the dough into rounds and carefully transfer them (sliding a palette knife underneath) to the prepared baking tray, leaving a small gap between each.
- Gently gather up any remaining dough into a ball. re-roll and cut until all the dough has been used (trying to avoid working the dough too much).
- Place the baking tray in the fridge and chill for about 45 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 170 C (325 F) and bake the cookies for about 20 minutes until the edges are starting to darken slightly.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for about 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Sprinkle generously with additional caster or granulated sugar while still warm… OR leave to cool completely and drizzle over some melted dark chocolate.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist
Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits (Cookies) shared with
- Full Plate Thursday with Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
- What’s for Dinner with The Lazy Gastronome
- Fiesta Friday with Angie