The Best Coconut Flour Shortbread Cookies

I know, I know. Everyone titles their recipes “The Best Something-or-other” so you’ll just have to believe me that these seriously are the best. Like so good. They hold together, look pretty, don’t use a micro-measured blend of 50 billion different types of flour, whip together in seconds, and they taste good. See? The best.

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I wanted a paleo/primal friendly cookie recipe that didn’t use almond flour. These are also then, by extension, gluten free and safe for people with nut allergies. The first coconut flour cookies I made were terrible. So dry I nearly choked eating them. You know what I’m talking about. When you inhale a piece of dry baking and then just keep inhaling more and more as you try to gasp for air while also trying not spitting cookie everywhere. And they had to be eaten in pieces because they started crumbling apart the moment they were picked up. Something was missing from the recipe.

My secret to good regular cookies is corn starch. Something magical happens when you add corn starch to baking. The cookies become just the right kind of chewy, and they stay super soft even after they’re a few days old. But since these cookies needed to be grain-free I couldn’t use it. I had a bag of tapioca starch in the pantry, which is made from cassava root, so I decided to try adding a scoop of that. It was magic.

Okay, actually, if we’re getting all technical and science-y it’s that starches absorb water and then gel during baking, forming a more solid (solid-er?) bond. But, y’know, magic also works. This is essential in grain-free baking because coconut flour lacks the gluten that helps bind regular cookies. Well it’s not essential-essential. The cookies will work-ish without the starch, but they won’t be amazeballs good. Ya dig it?

So about them whipping together in seconds. Here’s what you do: Pull out your handy-dandy food processor. If you don’t have a food processor you can use an electric whisk. If you don’t have an electric whisk, you can use a regular spoon or fork. However, if you don’t have a food processor I highly recommend getting one. They don’t need to break the bank either. This is the one I have (here for amazon.ca), and it’s been working fine for me. The funny thing is that I bought it for the immersion blender, but I hardly ever use that while I use the electric whisk and food processor all the time.

So, dump the flour, starch, salt, and cold butter into the mixer then pulse it together until it forms a coarse crumb. It’s important to use cold butter so the mixture doesn’t turn into a blob too soon, because if it does that you’ll have to work harder to mix in the rest of the ingredients.

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Add the honey/maple syrup and vanilla extract, then blend that sucka’ until it forms a ball of dough. Honey and maple syrup work equally well. I like honey because I’ve found it browns the cookies more.

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Split the dough ball into tweleve even amounts and squash ’em flat. You’ll want to err on the side of too flat because these don’t spread out while baking like regular cookies. If anything they puff slightly. I find it easiest to flatten them in stages: Divide, roll, squish, flatten.

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And yes your hands will get super greasy making these cookies because of all the buttah. There’s enough butter to make Julia Child proud.

If you want you can then go around the cookies with your finger or a knife and gently smooth the edges out.

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Then bake ’em for 5-7 minutes. The first time you make these you’ll want to keep a close eye on them until you’ve figured out the perfect time for your oven. Coconut flour is pretty dry so you want to be careful not to over-bake these. But seriously, it’s like 5-7 minutes so it’s not a huge time commitment.

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See? I told you they were easy. You’ll have to make them yourself to discover how good they taste though. Even if you’re used to eating wheat flour and cane sugar there’s something weirdly addictive about them. They have this sweet, but not cloyingly sweet, taste of vanilla with just a hint of coconut in the background.

Is there anything better than a perfectly browned cookie bottom? I didn’t think so.

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Now go sabotage your paleo/primal and celiac friends so they can’t fit into their summer clothes either make all your friends who can’t eat wheat flour and cane sugar happy.

The Best Coconut Flour Shortbread Cookies

2/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
Pinch of salt
100 grams cold butter (1/2 cup) or 1/2 cup coconut oil, broken into chunks
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C)
2. Add flour, starch, and salt to food processor or regular bowl and mix together briefly.
3. Add the cold butter or oil and blend using the food processor or, if using a regular bowl, an electric mixer until the butter and flour mixture are combined into crumbs.
4. Add honey or maple syrup and vanilla extract, then blend again until the dough forms a ball.
5. Divide the dough into 12 even amounts. Flatten each ball into a cookie shape. Evenly space each cookie on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 5-7 minutes, watching carefully so they don’t burn.
6. Allow the cookies to cool slightly and firm up on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack. Enjoy!

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