… Will These Transport You Too?
When I shared these cookies with others and asked how they envisioned them being served, suggestions included pairing them with a dessert wine and a good piece of cheese (for those who are not dairy-free of course), or offering them as a complimentary taste treat with a glass of Sunday Brunch champagne. I really like those ideas. Then I offered them to a good friend of mine. Her response surprised, and transported, me instantly …
“These cookies bring me right back to my afternoon teas when I was visiting Ireland. It was always so fun to stop everything at 4 o’clock and bring out the china and set a pretty table with a lace cloth, a little vase of fresh flowers, piping hot tea in a decorative pot, and some delicious little “biscuits”, tea cakes, or cookies. This shortbread is just the kind of thing they would serve. Something not too sweet but just enough to go with the tea. It was a special and relaxing time of day, only about 30 minutes or so, everyone stopping briefly to sit and chat, sharing just a little something to hold us over and rejuvenate us until supper, which usually wasn’t until about 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. Thank you, Connie, for taking me right back there!” You’re quite welcome, Aine!
Very civilized, right? I think sometimes it’s easy to forget to stop and appreciate the simple things, even just for a few minutes a day, and take in their full enjoyment. (Inserting a reminder-to-self here). After hearing her recount that time with such passion, and seeing her associate so enthusiastically a relationship between my shortbread cookies and her lovely time in Ireland, I didn’t think it would be right to share this recipe without presenting the cookies to you in a similar way. So, embellished with lace and fine china, may these slightly savory, slightly sweet, melt-in-your-mouth buttery, gluten-free, dairy-free shortbread cookies transport you to a wonderful place as well. I’m ready … and thank you, Aine, for the reminder – and compliment!
Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies
Baking time: 12-14 minutes, ovens vary
Oven temp: 350ºF
Makes: 30-36 cookies
2 cups (240g) gluten-free all-purpose flour, plus a bit extra for dusting – I use Authentic Foods Bette’s Gourmet Four Flour Blend (does not contain xanthan gum or guar gum)
1/2 teaspoon guar gum
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
zest of 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil, remove main spine in leaves before chopping
1/2 cup dairy-free margarine, cold straight from fridge – I use Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread – soy free
1/2 cup coconut oil, firm not melted
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
*Shortbread does not require eggs in the recipe. Yay, a vegan recipe as well.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (I was able to use two sheets well filled since the cookies don’t spread much.)
Combine flour, guar gum, salt, lemon zest, and basil in a bowl. Stir well to thoroughly combine. Adding the zest and basil in at this point ensures they are well distributed and will not clump together when mixed with the wet ingredients.
Beat together, using an electric mixer, the margarine, coconut oil, powdered sugar, and lemon juice until smooth and creamy.
Add the flour mixture to the creamy mixture and mix on medium-low speed until well mixed. The texture may be a little crumbly.
Press dough together with hands and form into non-compacted ball, but one that holds together. Divide dough in half. Cover 1/2 with plastic and set aside momentarily.
Dust a sheet of parchment paper with flour. Place first half of dough ball onto parchment, lightly dust ball on top, then cover with another sheet of parchment. Roll ball into 1/4-1/3 inch thickness. Gently flip the dough-filled sheets of parchment upside down. Remove bottom sheet. Prick dough with a fork all over the surface. Replace the paper and flip right-side up again.
Cut out cookies using a flour-dusted cookie cutter, then transfer the cookies to the parchment-lined baking sheet. The dough scraps can easily be re-rolled and cut. If you find the dough is getting too soft, chill it for about five minutes in the fridge, then re-roll. Keep about 1” between cookies for even baking. Roll second ball while first batch of cookies is baking.
Bake for 12-14 minutes on center oven rack. Cookies should just very lightly begin to turn golden on the edges when they are done. Slide parchment sheet onto cooling rack and let cookies rest 2 minutes. Using a spatula, gently transfer cookies to cooling rack without parchment to cool completely.
Serve in one of the ways we shared above, or find your own way of enjoying these cookies. Perhaps with a small bowl of fresh strawberries or raspberries and a dollop of non-dairy whipped cream.
Store in an airtight container. Should your cookies become softened from humidity by leaving them open to the air where there’s high humidity (lots of that in MN this time of year), these cookies can quickly be “crisped” up by placing them on a cooling rack nestled in a rimmed baking sheet (jelly roll pan) and warming in a preheated 350ºF oven for just 3 minutes. This doesn’t bake them again, but simply dries up the excess moisture they’ve naturally absorbed. Once cooled, store in an airtight container and they should maintain the perfect consistency.
Safe food is a journey … Thrive!™
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