Chocolate Chunk Shortbread

Chocolate Chunk on trayChocolate Chunk Shortbread GF

Chocolate Chunk Shortbread is always the first cookie eaten from the tray at our annual shop party. Once people taste this decadent shortbread, created by Phipps Desserts in Toronto and shared with readers in the original Canadian Living Holiday Baking Issue in 1995, they always come back to it because they know it will satisfy their craving for something sweet…. And why not with chocolate and butter in such a perfect combination?

I have used a few pounds of butter experimenting with alternative flour combinations in my attempt to achieve the same buttery delight of my favourite Christmas shortbreads this year.  When I went back for a second and Cliff didn’t care if he was eating my gluten-free version even when there was a container of the original ones in the freezer I thought I was ready to share this recipe with you. I am considering mixing this combination of flours together to use in all my shortbread type recipes but have run short of time to continue with the experiments right now.

I have included the original adaptation of Chocolate Chunk Shortbread using wheat flour and the gluten-free version. Notice I saved the time toasting the flour in the GF recipe. I think the subtle flavour and texture qualitites this achieved are already there because of the diversity of the flours and starches combined to replace the wheat. I will probably try toasting just the flour (not starch) portion of the gluten-free mix at some time in the future to see if it provides a worthwhile improvement to the cookie. Be sure to check in next year to see if I have tweaked it a little more.

Chocolate Chunk Shortbread – Gluten-free

1               cup butter, softened

2/3          cup fruit sugar

1               tsp vanilla or almond extract

1/4          cup almond flour*

2/3          cup white rice flour

1/3          cup brown rice flour

1/2          cup sorghum flour

1/4          cup arrowroot starch

1/4          cup tapioca starch

1               Tbsp potato flour

1               tsp xanthan gum

pinch of salt

4               ounces good quality GF milk chocolate, chopped*

  • Beat butter with sugar until smooth, then add vanilla.
  • Stir in almond flour.
  • Sift both rice flours, sorghum flour arrowroot and tapioca starches, potato flour, xanthan gum and salt into butter mixture.
  • Mix until smooth, then add chopped chocolate and continue beating until evenly distributed.
  • Roll into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet. I use my favourite 7/8 oz scoop, overfill it and divide that portion in half, rolling each half into a ball. This seems to keep me from making the balls too large. This is a very rich cookie and you can’t eat too much if you want to try anything else on the tray!
  • You may press down lightly with your clean palm or floured glass bottom until about 3/8 inch thick..
  • Bake at 300°F for 25 minutes.

Makes 3 dozen cookies

* If you do not keep almond flour use ground almonds mixed with rice flour in approximately equal proportions.

* I found a Hersheys Christmas milk chocolate bar that was delicious!

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Gluten-free Baking Tips

There are a couple of guidelines for gluten-free baking which improve the outcome of your efforts tremendously. Both I noted in the directions for recipes posted but they deserve extra emphasis.

When using your own or a commercial gluten-free all purpose flour mix whisk or shake it so you have as even a distribution of the various flours as possible before measuring. Follow this by sifting the measured flour with the xanthan gum, baking soda and other fine, dry ingredients before incorporating into the mixture.

Buy yourself an instant read thermometer and use it to determine when a cake or bread is fully baked. It does leave a hole in the baked product but I even test one of the muffins before removing them from the oven. Batters using starches for structure need to reach an internal temperature of 200 degree F to set properly.

My Royal Birthday Cake

Queen Elizabeth Cake

Queen Elizabeth Cake – page 205, Anne’s Favourites

The year I published the cookbook my husband made the “Queen Elizabeth Cake” as another test on the final copy and because I requested it for my birthday. It was perfect and I loved it and looked forward to many more. I thought now that he had the idea and the an easy to follow recipe it could become an annual event. Sadly, the Celiac situation gave him the excuse he needed to leave cake making behind. I did not give up so easily and decided I would still have a Queen Elizabeth Cake for my birthday. It was a few days late and I had to make it myself but it was absolutely delicious!

Queen Elizabeth Cake Gluten-free – Click here for printable copy.                       See recipe below

Queen Elizabeth Cake – gluten-free adaptation from Anne’s Favourites Pg 205

  • 1 cup dates, chopped
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp GF baking powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut, desiccated
  • Topping:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 2/3 cup coconut, shredded or flaked
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
    For the cake pour boiling water over dates and baking soda then let cool.
    Beat butter with sugar until smooth then add egg and vanilla mixing until combined.
    Sift GF flour, xanthan gum and GF baking powder together.
    Stir in flour mixture and coconut until blended.
    Add cooled date mixture stirring until smooth.
    Pour into a greased 9 x 9 inch pan.
    Bake at 350°F for 35 – 40 minutes until springs back when touched lightly and internal temperature has reached 200 degrees F.
    Meanwhile for the topping  mix brown sugar, butter, milk, coconut and walnuts in
    a saucepan.
    When cake comes out of oven bring topping ingredients to a boil and let simmer for
    3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Spoon hot topping mix as evenly as possible on warm cake (see pg 192), spreading with two forks, and return to oven with broiler on.
    Broil until icing bubbles and turns golden brown. This only takes a few minutes so
    watch it carefully!

Holiday Favourites that are already gluten-free

Holiday Date Balls

This is my first gluten-free Christmas and I was looking through my cookbook to see which recipes for holiday baking were the easiest to adapt to my new diet. I was pleased to see I only needed to ensure my crisp rice cereal was gluten-free to adapt the Holiday Date Balls to be suitable for Celiacs.                        

Take care not to overcook them or they will be hard on your teeth!

Holiday Date Balls – click here for printable recipe

Holiday Fruit Balls

  • 1/2       cup butter melted
  • 2          cups white sugar
  • 2          eggs
  • 3          cups chopped dates
  • 1/4       cup candied red cherries
  • 1/4       cup candied green cherries
  • 3          cups gluten-free crisp rice cereal
  • coconut for coating

Melt butter in saucepan and add sugar and eggs, stirring quickly so eggs do not cook.

Add dates and cook for 7 minutes or until dates are cooked, stirring often.

Add cherries in last minutes of cooking.

Add rice cereal and stir to combine.

Cool until able to handle then form into balls

Roll in shredded coconut or coating of choice and store in an airtight container.

  • Other Coating Suggestions:
  • ground nuts
  • icing sugar

Welcome to my first blog

I am looking forward to sharing my love of cooking and baking with you through recipes that showcase the specialties of each season.  Many of these recipes will be from the cookbook I published, “Anne’s Favourites: Food for the Heart and Soul”.

I was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease and am adapting many of those recipes to be gluten-free and will share my experiences with this challenge. I have been so thankful for the wealth of information that I have found online as I explore this new way of life and hope I can add to that collective knowledge so others may benefit also.