Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Cranberry-Ginger Shortbread

Ginger-cranberry shortbread makes a great gift, or brightens up a winter day with a cup of hot tea.
By: Carol Blymire
AKA Get It, Shorty

When I was growing up, every year around the holidays my eccentric great-uncle would share a box of shortbread cookies with my brother and me as we sat in the living room while he smoked his pipe. Those dense cookies were so rich, so buttery and so great with hot chocolate. Now, when I pass all the lit Christmas trees in my neighbors’ windows on my evening walk with the dog, I crave shortbread. I want that buttery, rich taste, and I want it all winter long.

I also want it with a little brightness and sweetness. I've tried adapting this recipe so many ways — chocolate chips and candied ginger, maple syrup and chopped pecans, dried blueberries and Sriracha (a huge failed experiment, let me tell you). During the holidays, I like it best with dried cranberries and orange zest. It lifts the overall taste and makes it feel lighter and more flavorful. I enjoy it for breakfast, an afternoon snack and then maybe also dessert, with a scoop of coffee ice cream to go with it. I also like to make a few batches to cut into small squares for friends and neighbors.

The holidays are a great time for spontaneous drop-bys and socializing — why not have some gluten-free shortbread on hand to share with those you love? They won't even know it's gluten-free, and you can enjoy it right along with them!

Ginger-Cranberry Shortbread

Butter is what makes shortbread so wonderfully delicious. For this recipe, use the very best butter you can find, and make sure it's unsalted. The combination of two rice flours and oat flour hold up nicely to the bright orange, cranberry and ginger flavors. Your kitchen will smell glorious while this is baking!

Total Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 16 small bars
Level: Easy
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup sweet rice flour (aka mochiko)
1/2 cup oat flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup dried cranberries
Zest of 1/2 orange
1 teaspoon coarse, flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 11-by-7-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar at medium-high speed for 2 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, ground ginger, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum. Add flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar, and mix on medium speed until fully combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure ingredients are fully mixed.

Add dried cranberries and orange zest to the mixture and mix on low speed for 15 seconds. Mixture will be crumbly.

Press dough mixture evenly into the parchment-lined baking dish, and top with evenly sprinkled sea salt. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 10 minutes. Edges should be golden brown.

Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

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