After much testing, here are wheat-free cookies with a clean lovely flavor and tender buttery crunch. You can also use this dough to make crusts for bars. You can even make cutout cookies with it for decorating with kids. And you can produce heaps of different cookies with this simple dough. Feel free to add chopped nuts of any kind, citrus zest, spices, bits of dried fruit, raisins or currants, or cacao nibs. You can also look to the variations below this recipe for modern flavor ideas. In short, flavors or inclusions that are delicious in wheat-based butter cookies or sugar cookies will be successful in these.–Alice Medrich
LC Easy & Elegant Icing Note
How, you may be wondering, did our food stylist create such lovely little snowflake shapes on each of these slice-and-bake cookies? She simply piped snowflake shapes using Royal Icing, a pastry bag, a narrow tip, and a steady hand. You could instead place a snowflake stencil over the cookies and simply pile on the confectioners’ sugar like so many drifts of snow. Whichever approach you take, have yourself a merry little Christmas cookie….
Wheat-Free Butter Cookies
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon white rice flour preferably superfine
- 1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons oat flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 ounces cream cheese cut into chunks (you can substitute Tofutti cream cheese or puréed soft or silken tofu)
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into chunks (you can substitute non hydrogenated, non dairy margarine such as Earth Balance)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a medium bowl, combine the flours, salt, and baking soda with a whisk or fork. In a large bowl, using the back of a large spoon or an electric mixer, mix the sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla just until smooth and creamy. Add the flour mixture and mix just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Do not overmix.
- Divide the dough between 2 sheets of wax or parchment paper and form two 8-inch logs, each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each tightly in the paper and refrigerate until chilled through, at least 2 hours and preferably overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Position the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place the cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown at the edges and well browned on the bottom but still fairly pale on the tops. Rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Transfer the paper and cookies to wire racks to cool. Cool completely before stacking or storing. May be kept in an airtight container for at least 2 weeks.
Butter Cookie VariationsCutout Cookies Since this dough spreads slightly in baking, choose cookie cutters with simple rather than highly intricate or detailed shapes. Form the dough into 2 patties rather than logs. Wrap them tightly in the wax or parchment paper and refrigerate until chilled through, at least 2 hours and preferably overnight Remove 1 patty from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature briefly, until supple enough to roll but still quite firm. It will continue to soften as you work. Roll the dough between 2 pieces of wax paper or between sheets of plastic wrap to a thickness of 1/8 inch, turning the dough over once or twice. Peel off the top sheet of paper or plastic and keep it in front of you. (If the dough is sticky, dust it with a little oat flour.) Invert the dough onto the sheet of parchment in front of you and peel off the second sheet. Cut cookie shapes as close together as possible to minimize scraps, dipping the edges of the cookie cutters in oat flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Use the tip of a paring knife to lift and remove the scraps of dough, then transfer the cookies to the parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart. If the dough gets too soft at any time, slide a baking sheet underneath the paper or plastic and refrigerate the dough for a few minutes until firm. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Press all of the dough scraps together gently and reroll them as necessary. (Rerolling the scraps will not produce tough cookies.) Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, until golden brown at the edges but deep brown underneath, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Repeat until all the cookies are baked. Use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to wire racks. Cool completely before stacking or storing. May be kept in an airtight container for at least 2 weeks. Nutty Shortbread Cookies Stir 1 to 1 1/2 cups raw or toasted nuts (coarsely or finely chopped) into the sugar and butter mixture before adding the flour. Nibbly Shortbread Cookies Stir 1/4 to 1/3 cup roasted cacao nibs into the sugar and butter mixture before adding the flour. Chai Butter Cookies Add 2 teaspoons chai tea (from a package of loose chai tea or from the contents of 2 or 3 chai tea bags) to the sugar and butter mixture before adding the flour. Orange Butter Cookies With Ancho Chile Omit the vanilla and add 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest and 1 1/2 tablespoons crumbled or powdered dried ancho chiles to the sugar and butter mixture before adding the flour. Orange Saffron Butter Cookies Omit the vanilla and add 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest and 3/4 teaspoon loosely packed crumbled saffron to the sugar and butter mixture before adding the flour. Butter Cookies With Lime And Mint A little mojito flavor. Omit the vanilla and add 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest and 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped mint leaves to the sugar and butter mixture before adding the flour. Grapefruit And Basil Butter Cookies Omit the vanilla and add 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated grapefruit zest and 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh basil to the sugar and butter mixture before adding the flour.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
These cookies are reminiscent of the Danish butter cookies that you can buy in a tin. Though very soft when they first come out of the oven, they become crisp and crumbly once left to cool. They’re the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea, and you’d never know that they’re wheat-free!
Wow—easy to use ingredients, good texture, and good flavor. Very few wheat-free baking options hit all three of those. I tried the cocoa nib version and was blown away. Absolutely delicious. I strongly recommend refrigerating the dough until it’s chilled all the way through. For me that meant about 5 hours. Otherwise the cookies spread out too much. The flavor of the cookies definitely gets better with time (well, a day or two—that’s as long as they lasted).
These are actually very nice cookies with a great texture. They come out buttery and rich with a crisp bite and a soft, chewy center. I don’t know if I’d make the orange saffron flavor again (the saffron wasn’t enjoyable), but I’d love to try the other flavors suggested.
Originally published November 30, 2012