Cookies for the Holidays
“Cookies are made with Butter and Love.”
This lovely Norwegian saying most certainly refers to shortbread cookies—and you’ve got to love these, filled as they are with lots of toasted pecans and real maple syrup.
Right now almost every food magazine, cooking show and blog features cookies for the holidays. So here is my 2011 offering: meltingly delicious Maple Pecan Shortbread. You won’t believe how very, very quick and easy they are to prepare in the food processor. You also may not believe that they are gluten-free—though you will believe they are made with butter 😉
I went searching for a gluten-free cookie to make for dessert the other night for friends not eating eggs or gluten. Rather surprisingly I found a pecan shortbread recipe in Amy Green’s blog that she modified from a shortbread recipe in my cookbook Fruit-Sweet & Sugar-Free. I also made a few changes, like doubling the amount of pecans, switching the sweetener to maple syrup and slightly reducing the amount of brown rice flour. Voila! A Maple Pecan Shortbread cookie that tastes even better than my previous favorite gluten-free packaged pecan shortbread cookies.
These cookies are sooo good that my husband and I have decided to bake them and package them up as gifts to send and gifts to bring to holiday parties and gifts to give to some of the wonderful people who brighten our lives throughout the year. Once I have wrapped a few, I’ll add another photo or two to give you some ideas.
Another gluten-free cookie recipe you might enjoy baking for the holidays is one from a previous post for Peanut Butter Cookies. They are a sturdy cookie that should hold up very well in the mail and that could be made more festive with the addition of a few chocolate chips.
Update: these cookies are fabulous made with coconut oil in place of butter.
Yield: 32 cookies
1 cup pecans
8 ounces butter at room temperature
½ cup maple syrup, Grade B, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Large pinch salt
2 cups brown rice flour
Use either a food processor or electric mixer to cream together the butter, maple syrup and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Add the salt, brown rice flour and finely chopped and toasted pecans.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Use a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop to form balls of dough. Place them about an inch apart on parchment paper or silpat-lined rimmed cookie sheets. Flatten the cookies to 1/3-inch thick.
Bake them on insulated or double-panned cookie sheets until lightly browned around the edges, approximately 20 minutes, turning the pan 180 degrees after 13 minutes. Let the cookies cool before removing them from the pan.
For Cut-Out Shortbread Cookies: Prepare the dough the same as above, however refrigerate the dough for a couple of hours before quickly rolling it out on a lightly floured surface ¼ to 1/3-inch thick. You can also roll a bit of organic sugar on the top of the dough for a bit of added sparkle to the cookies.
Note: because of the amount of butter this dough rapidly becomes quite soft. Work very quickly in a cool kitchen and be sure to dip your cookie cutters in flour each time before cutting the dough. These cookies may bake more quickly. Check them after 15 minutes so that delicate edges (such as with these stars) do not get over-browned.
Variations: know that you can substitute other full flavored nuts for the pecans, such as lightly toasted walnuts. If you use almonds, you might want to include a teaspoon of almond extract and reduce the vanilla to 1 teaspoon.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe without images