I usually like to make something special for Easter. Last year was a pastel cake to doubly celebrate Easter as well as my cousin’s graduation from nursing school. This year, I didn’t have very much time, so I stuck with something simple that would also travel well: shortbread. I added in some bright orange flavor and soft vanilla, which suit Easter just fine (or any time, really).
Some of my favorite cookies are scented with orange, although I’ve never made any in my own kitchen. It was beyond time to do it, and it also gave me a perfect excuse to try making gluten free shortbread. I used almond meal and buckwheat flour, as I have been doing quite often lately, and the result was just right. Light and soft without being crumbly.
I went for vanilla bean and orange zest, but you can just as easily use vanilla and orange extracts if you have neither in your kitchen. They just add a bit more depth when you use the real thing! They also lent themselves to the heavenly smells wafting through my apartment all day – definitely worth it in my book.
This shortbread is super easy to cut, as you just roll it into a log, freeze it a bit so its firm, and slice it up to bake. This was also my first time of making a log, too, but it’s definitely not my last! I can’t believe how much quicker it was (and I got to make my lunch while waiting for the dough to firm up in the freezer!).
What kinds of treats do you make for Easter?
- 1/2 cup demerara sugar (or brown sugar)
- 1/4 tsp liquid stevia (or 1/4 cup more sugar)
- zest from 2 oranges (about 2 Tbsp), or 1 tsp orange extract
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped, or 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups almond meal (I use Trader Joe's)
- 1 cup buckwheat flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 2 Tbsp orange juice
- 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
- 4-6 Tbsp powdered sugar, to desired thickness
- orange zest, for sprinkling
In a small bowl, stir the sugar, liquid stevia, orange zest, and vanilla bean seeds together. Allow to rest for a few minutes so the oils are released and flavors develop.
In a medium bowl, stir the almond meal, buckwheat flour, and salt together. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar mixture together until light and fluffy. Slowly stir in the flour mixture, until a dough forms.
Divide the dough in half, and form into two logs (you can make them round or rectangular, about 2 inches in diameter/wide). Wrap the logs in plastic wrap, and place in the freezer for about 20 minutes, until firm.
While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350ºF, and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Once the dough is firm, unwrap, and cut into 1/4 inch slices, and place onto the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart.
Bake at 350ºF for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are set. Allow to cool on the pan slightly before removing to a wire rack to cool.
While the cookies are cooling, make the glaze by stirring the orange juice and vanilla extract together in a small bowl. Add the powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until it is your desired thickness (not too runny, but not stiff).
Drizzle or spread each shortbread piece with the glaze, and sprinkle with orange zest. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator (they will keep their texture best this way).