Almond and Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten Free + Vegan)

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When you’re looking for food to fit specific diets or food preferences and you’re not used to cooking or baking those profiles, it’s best or easiest, anyway, to pick dishes that are naturally gluten free, for instance, or come perfectly vegan all by themselves, for another. Extra-Bittersweet Chocolate Pots de Crème is a simple, happy dessert for a gluten free eater.  No flour to replace there.  Sumptuous summer strawberries and raspberries glistening with finely minced mint fills the bill for vegans, I’m thinking, because who doesn’t like strawberries and raspberries?

But what if you’re in the market for a recipe that corners two such diets? And you’re an omnivore, as well as someone who loves a culinary challenge? Things become a bit dicier. You begin scanning stacks of cookbooks looking for cakes without flour.  Ingredients you’ve never heard of or seen in the grocery store jump right off the pages at you. Next, google’s got you cornered for an hour with 53 kinds of cookies made with 6 sorts of very dear gluten free flours, but alas are full of eggs. This is when your cooking brain turns all kinds of creative because it has no choice–otherwise known as racking the brain.  And, by the way, you want this treat to be so mouth-watering. How do you know what’s good? Trial and error. Trusted sources. And sometimes you get lucky. Plus…anything with almond extract is delicious without question and you got that little gem right from me. What I needed this time, as you might have figured out, was a GLUTEN FREE-VEGAN dessert. Sounds easy, ok?  Not so much, even though this wasn’t my first Gluten-Free-Vegan rodeo. I’m somewhat picky, you know. Read on…

One obviously luscious cookie I really liked the looks of was in the new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, SMITTEN KITCHEN EVERY DAY. (Lots of lovely cooking to be done with that little tome!)  It’s an olive oil rosemary shortbread with chocolate that’s rolled out into circle and baked just like that. I know, right?

But no way, it had wheat flour even though it had no eggs. My GF friends would have to skip that.  Oh, fudge. (Wait, I could make fudge, right? Ok, hold that thought…)  Another recipe I found online was a King Arthur cookie made with almond flour and it had no eggs –so it was GF and vegan, yay!– but it lacked the pizzaz, the je ne sais quoi (the I don’t know what) of the chocolate and rosemary in the sheet shortbread. (Did I say I adore rosemary?) While I knew the KA one might be tasty, and was made with easily available, if expensive, ingredients, it without doubt seemed like a plain old cookie jar cookie. Lovely for tea any sort of afternoon at work. Perfect in the car for a long drive in the mountains. But I wanted really tasty. Mama’s goin’ to New York different-tasty. “I want more NOW” type tasty.

I decided to take the King Arthur cookie for a Smitten Kitchen chocolate ride, tempered with More Time at the Table’s go-to for dessert flavor:  ALMOND. The result? A crispy, sandy, barely sweet almondy shortbread with just enough very finely chopped chocolate in it to let you know who’s boss. Try this, as it’s perfect for all God’s little valentines, but don’t forget to make the coffee first:


Gluten Free + Vegan

makes 18-20 cookies

  • 6 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan “butter” softened (I used the spread version.)
  • 2 cups almond flour (meal)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup each very finely chopped sliced almonds and vegan dark chocolate*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

With an electric mixer, beat all ingredients together until a cohesive dough comes together.  Refrigerate about 15 minutes. (You can bake them right away, but the cross hatches are a bit more visible if you chill the dough. Up to you.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Set rack in center of oven. Line baking pan with parchment paper.

Take bowl out of fridge. With your hands or a small scoop, form 1-inch balls and place them 2 inches apart onto the parchment lined sheet.  Using a dinner fork dipped in almond flour, press down on each cookie in first one direction and then in the opposite direction to create a crosshatch.  Bake about 10 minutes or until light golden brown at edges. Cool pan on rack for 10 minutes, then transfer cookies to rack to cool completely. Repeat until all dough is used.

Keeps 2 weeks in an airtight tin or 6 months, tightly wrapped, in the freezer.

Cook’s Note:  I did not try this with dairy butter, but have little doubt it would work just fine as the KA cookie called for it. If you need GF only and not vegan, try it and let me know.

Inspiration for recipe from SMITTEN KITCHEN and KING ARTHUR’S FLOUR. THANK YOU! You’re my heroes.

*About vegan chocolate here.

{printable recipe}


If you like this, you might like my Piper’s Gluten Free and Vegan Waffles

Thanks for spending more time at the table. I’m glad you’re here and appreciate your reading the blog! Hope you’ll be back soon or stay to look around a bit more.

Bake a new cookie,


7 thoughts on “Almond and Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten Free + Vegan)

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