Gluten-Free Shortbread Cut-Out Cookies are the perfect special treat! Fill with a fresh strawberry sauce for a bright festive cookie or finish with a dark chocolate drizzle and coconut flakes. These are a (secretly) healthier take on a traditional sweet treat! Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day or just need a festive and tasty treat, this recipe will be an instant hit!
The only difficult decision: Chocolate or Strawberry?
I really loved both of these flavors! The dark chocolate (with toasted nuts or coconut flakes for garnish) is decadent and subtly savory, while the strawberry is fresh and buttery!
It took a few batches and recipe tweaks before deciding on the gluten-free shortbread cut-out cookie recipe that I liked the most… but it was worth the effort! Enjoy!!
Gluten-Free Shortbread Cut-Out Cookies with Strawberry Filling
1/2 c Butter, Melted
3 Tbsp Honey + 1 Tbsp Maple Syrup (1/2 c Sweetener of Choice)
1 Large Egg
3-4 Tbsp Cold Water
1/4 c Apple Sauce or Melted Coconut Oil
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum (omit if already in gluten-free flour blend)
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
3 c Gluten-Free Flour*, reserve some for rolling dough
6 Ripe Strawberries, stems removed and chopped in quarters
1 tsp Honey
Pinch Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Chia Seeds (optional)
*Use gluten-free flour blend of choice OR whisk together 1c oat flour + 1c coconut flour + 1c brown rice or buckwheat flour + 1Tbsp Corn Starch or Potato Starch + Xanthan Gum
Preheat oven to 350f. Line baking sheet with a silicone baking pad or parchment paper.
In small bowl whisk together 2 cups of your gluten-free flour, the salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, and xanthan gum (if needed).
Using an electric mixer or whisk, combine melted butter with the sweetener, egg, vanilla, and apple sauce until thoroughly blended.
Gradually stir-in the dry ingredients using a spatula or wooden spoon. Soft dough should form. Add a couple Tablespoons of the cold water. Dough should be slightly sticky.
Dust clean work suface with about 1/4 cup of the additional flour. Transfer dough to work surface and dust the top of the dough with an additional 1/4 cup of flour. Flatten the dough using your hands to about a 1" disk, lightly dusting the flattened dough with a little more flour if it is at all sticky.
Using a lightly floured rolling pin, begin to roll dough into a thin oblong rectangle shape about 1/4" thick. If dough begins to stick, just dust the dough and pin with a tiny bit more flour. However, be careful to not add too much flour! (read the troubleshooting tips at the end of this post).
Cut dough into preferred shapes using cookie cutters, pizza cutter, or a small knife. I used a rippled pizza cutter for the edges of the shortbread and a small knife to cut-out small hearts in the middle.
Fresh Strawberry Filling:
Using a small food processor, pulse chopped strawberries. Strawberries should quickly become a thin strawberry "juice". Add a pinch of salt, the honey, and a pinch of chia seeds if desired. If strawberries are ripe and juicy you should not need to add liquid, but you can add a tsp of water or apple juice if needed.
Dark Chocolate Glaze:
Melt equal amounts of dark chocolate chips and almond milk (about 2 Tbsp each) in microwave on medium heat or on the stovetop, stirring often with a whisk to avoid any sticking or burning. Remove from heat after chocolate sauce develops. Reheat for just a few seconds on low heat and/or add a little more milk if the chocolate sauce becomes too thick to drizzle. Bake cookies before drizzling (or dipping) with chocolate.
Making The Cookie Layers:
For layering your cut-out cookies to create exposed filled centers, just spread about a tsp of your strawberry filling in the middle of a solid cookie and top with a cut-out cookie on top before baking (the baking will help the fresh strawberry spread to absorb into the cookie while still being exposed through the top cut-out cookie layer).
Bake your layered or single layer cut-out cookies at 350 for 8-10 minutes until the edges are slightly golden. Allow cookies to cool completely before transferring or decorating! 🙂 Drizzle or dip with chocolate and garnish with unsweetened coconut flakes or toasted nuts if desired!
Trouble-Shooting tips for some of the common complications with cut-out cookies and how to address them:
1. Dough is too crumbly & breaks easily: The key is to add the flour gradually (especially with gluten-free blends that often vary greatly in composition). If the dough is too “sticky” and not stiff (not enough flour) then the cookies will be too fragile. But be carefull, because if you add too much flour you’ll end up with issue #2…
2. Cookies turn out tough: This usually occurs when you’ve added a little too much flour. You want just enough flour that the cookie dough is workable and doesn’t stick to the rolling pin, but not more than necessary or cookies will be a little tough after baking.
3. Dough sticks to the rolling pin: Before rolling dough, flatten the ball of dough with your hands into a disc and lightly dust the dough and rolling pin with flour. After the initial couple passes with the rolling pin, check the dough to see if the flattened surface is at all sticky. If the dough is sticky to the touch, very lightly smooth another dusting of flour over the top of the dough and pin before rolling again.
Drizzle a little chocolate over the strawberry filled shortbread cookie… and it’s almost like eating a chocolate dipped strawberry in the form of a cookie!
These are a few variations on these gluten-free shortbread cookies that I really enjoy:
Chocolate cut-out cookies: use date sugar for the sweetener and add 1 Tbsp of Cocoa to the batter! The date sugar will naturally give the cookies a darker color, but if you use a different sweetener, add another 1-2 Tbsp of cocoa powder.
For a nutty twist: Dip your cookies in melted dark chocolate or unsweetened carob glaze and garnish with toasted walnuts or pecans!
Mocha Shortbread Cookies: Instead of adding 3 Tbsp cold water, add a few Tbsp of cold strong coffee and 1 Tbsp cocoa powder to your cookie batter! (If you want to get really fancy, combine this mocha cookie with the chocolate-dipped nutty twist!)
I hope you have a fabulous Valentine’s day celebrating all the people that you’re grateful to have in your life!! That’s what the “heart” of Valentine’s day should truly be about – an opportunity to show gratitude for those we love! 🙂