The season is upon us — sparkly lights have been put up, edible gifts are being planned, little presents are being hidden away … and inevitably I’m thinking about my cookie box. I like to have a bit of variety in there: some chocolate, a shortbread, and of course sugar cookies. I have three worthy contenders this year that I’m really looking forward to tucking into my holiday tins. I’ve been working these cookies for the past month or so, making substitutions and re baking until they are just right. Today I’m excited to share recipes for tahini chocolate chip cookies, maple sugar shortbread, and buttery sugar cookies, all gluten-free and naturally sweetened.
I so hope you try these and I especially hope you like them. As an added bonus, two recipes (the chocolate chip and the sugar cookie recipes) are dairy-free, though I’ve given butter substitutions. I haven’t tried making the maple shortbread dairy free; shortbread just seems like it needs to be buttery. But coconut oil might work there; if you try it please report back. I have decided to not use any margarine going forward, even though it can mimic butter in baking recipes. I’m just really trying to keep ingredients pared down to simple ones without any added stuff.
So, the details — click on each recipe title to view the recipe instructions:
Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies — I adapted these from several recipes online, upping the amount of tahini until it reached 3/4 cup. I love tahini, but recognize that it can be a bit strong and not to everyone’s taste. But the magic of these cookies is that you don’t really taste a strong tahini flavor, it’s more a nutty/buttery undertone. Coconut sugar and maple sugar combine with oat flour to balance the tahini’s bitterness with natural sweetness. I’m going to work on this recipe a bit more, but as written below it is a worthy addition to your seasonal cookie tin.
Maple Sugar Shortbread — these cookies are so simple, call for hardly any ingredients, and have received rave reviews so far. I’ve baked them using sorghum flour and oat flour (separately!) and I think either choice is stellar. The maple sugar is the star, the butter plays against it nicely, and the gluten-free whole grain flour gives the cookies a tender, melting crumb.
Sugar Cookies — the secret in these cookies is the coconut oil. You could also use butter, but I love the extra richness the coconut oil brings (bonus is that they’re gluten-free). I also love the addition of a small amount of almond extract. You might try arrowroot in place of the sweet white rice flour if you don’t have it; both act as a starchy binder to hold the cookies together and give them that familiar sugar cookie texture. I dusted them with a cinnamon-maple sugar but they do not need it.
Some notes: America’s Test Kitchen advises grinding coconut sugar and sucanat in a blender to make a finer powder for baking. I did not do this and my sugar cookie turned out a bit more dark. It does not affect the flavor. If you do not mind the color difference, it does not much matter; you could also use maple sugar exclusively if you want a pale, more traditional-looking cookie. I’ll also advocate for choosing an olive oil that has a less strident profile; olive oil by default has a pretty assertive taste, which I don’t mind, but you may wish to go for something more mellow when looking at the options in the grocery aisle. You could also use coconut oil or vegetable oil. I use refined coconut oil in most of my recipes (tidbit – there is no nutritional difference between refined and unrefined coconut oil!).
But onward to the recipes! Wishing you a cozy baking season ahead.
Til next time – N x