Gluten-Free Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies

Here in Pittsburgh, nowhere is that more apparent than in the tradition of the wedding Cookie Table, a groaning board filled with multi-tiered platters of cookies baked by the happy couple’s family and friends. At some weddings, the Cookie Table outshines (visually and gustatorily) the wedding cake itself. It’s a tangible display of love and affection, of effort expended on behalf of others’ pleasure.

June is a big month for weddings (The New York Times recently quoted industry trade group Wedding Report’s prediction of a whopping 2.5 million marriages in 2022). But June also sees an annual onslaught of other events where the communal appeal of cookies is clear: graduation parties, Father’s Day, Shavuot. International Picnic Day!

All cookies are perfect, but some travel better than others. Shortbread, traditionally a sturdy, unadorned drop, bar, or coin, are terrific candidates for schlepping to a reception, park, or party. And the perfect way to demonstrate a sense of community. This version is both untraditional — almond flour replaces the all-purpose flour, making them gluten-free — and understated. I prescribe they should be taken with strong coffee after dinner.

Gluten-Free Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies Recipe

Yields 12 Cookies

INGREDIENTS

1 cup almond flour
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon Earl Grey tea leaves, crushed (a mortar and pestle work great here, but you can get good results with your thumb and forefinger, too)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl until a cohesive dough forms. Unlike pie dough, you’re not going for flaky, so make sure the butter is completely incorporated. Even small chunks will make your cookies too fragile.
  3. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. During that time, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Divide the dough in half, then divide each half evenly into six pieces, for a total of 12 pieces. Form the pieces into balls, then drop them onto the prepared baking sheet, arranging the balls of dough about 1 1/2″ to 2″ apart.
  5. Use a fork to flatten each cookie to about 1/4″ thick, making a crosshatch design.
  6. Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet, front to back.
  7. Continue baking for an additional 4-5 minutes, until they start to turn light golden brown on top.
  8. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days; freeze for longer storage.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE

Between the almond flour, the low sugar level, and the Earl Grey, these are not particularly appealing to most children; to make them more kid-friendly, bump up the powdered sugar to a quarter cup (4 tablespoons), ditch the tea leaves, and roll the balls in colored sugar before baking.

For a Cranberry-Orange vibe, substitute 1 teaspoon orange zest and 1/4 cup dried cranberries for the Earl Grey tea.

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