Gluten-free Shortbread Cookies with Tahini
Every assorted cookie platter needs at least one gluten-free offering. Gluten-free Shortbread Cookies with Tahini should be the one! Even gluten-filled folks will appreciate this because shortbread never disappoints.
GBBO peeps will be familiar with the term biscuit. But if you aren’t, it is what Americans call a cookie. Shortbread is a type of cookie that is traditionally Scottish but is now found all over the world in places that appreciate a buttery bite of heaven.
Normally made with just three ingredients (butter, flour, and sugar) shortbread is a dense and crumbly cookie. It can skew savory with the addition of rosemary or caraway but is normally a mildly sweet treat.
When I was in my teens, I could not wait for Christmas time to roll around because it was only then that I could find Walker’s Scottish shortbread at the local commissary on the military base where we lived. Those shiny red tins and rectangular plaid boxes were the stuff of which my cookie dreams were made.
After traveling to Scotland, I discovered that shortbread is not a fancy cookie made only by Walker's. It's made by moms and grandmas. And it needs only a handful of ingredients.
There was no looking back once I learned to bake my own shortbread. Goodbye Walker’s (although I still love you) and hello homemade shortbread. Now, I have fun playing around and making different flavors.
Tahini is a creamy sesame seed paste. Once toasted and ground, the sesame seed kernels become spreadable seed butter or paste. It is similar to nut butter.
The paste is a popular ingredient in many Middle Eastern dips, sauces, and toppings. Most people know about tahini because it plays a starring role in hummus. But it can be used in desserts, too.
Halva is a fudge-like sweet made from sesame seed paste. Tahini is also swirled into brownies, cookies, and ice creams. It adds a slightly bitter and nutty flavor that is delicious.
- If your gluten-free flour blend does not contain xanthan gum, add ¾ teaspoon to the recipe. Looking for a flour-free cookie? Try this one.
- The mixer is NOT your friend for this cookie recipe. Creaming the tahini, butter, and sugar together with beaters adds too much air to the dough and the cookies will spread. I used a fork to mash them together, then transitioned to a large spoon to incorporate the other ingredients.
- The fridge, however, is your best friend. Be sure to chill the dough before rolling it into logs. Then chill again before slicing or you will be sorry.
- ¾ cup tahini sesame seed paste
- 6 oz (1 ½ sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ cups gluten-free flour with xanthan gum, like Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- ¾ tsp salt
- 4 Tbsp raw white sesame seeds
- 2 Tbsp raw black sesame seeds
- Make the cookies by mixing the tahini and the softened butter with a fork or spoon in a large bowl. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
- Pour the flour, cornstarch, and salt (and xanthan gum if needed) into a mesh strainer and sift the ingredients together. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until well mixed. You will need to use your hand to knead the dough and get it thoroughly combined and smooth.
- Divide the dough into two equal portions, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Roll each portion into a cylinder. Each log should be around 7 inches long and 2 inches wide. Tip the white and black sesame seeds into a shallow pan and swirl them together until mixed. Now, roll each dough log in the sesame seeds until the log is completely coated.
- Wrap the logs tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate them again for 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F/176 C. Place parchment paper on two rimmed baking sheets and set aside.
- Unwrap one log and cut into ½-inch slices. Place slices onto the prepared sheets, about 1-inch apart. Repeat with the second log. Each log yields about 12 to 14 cookies.
- Bake cookies for 12 to 14 minutes or until a light golden color.
- To make the cookies perfectly round, place a large round cookie cutter around the cookie while it is hot from the oven and swirl the cutter on the baking sheet in a tight circle around the cookie. It will help shape the cookies to make them look more picture-worthy but will not affect the taste, lol. I don’t have a round cookie cutter so I used the open end of a drinking glass.
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Then, transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before enjoying them with a cup of coffee.
Keywords: gluten-free shortbread cookies with tahini