Those of you who read this space regularly know that I don’t bake much. I am a little too free-form in my cooking to really nail any sort of baking project that requires precision. Fortunately, shortbread isn’t one of those sorts of recipes. Shortbread is easy.
What’s more shortbread, by definition, isn’t overly concerned with the gluten in wheat. Shortbread is so named because all that fat — typically butter — shortens the strands of gluten in the dough, leaving the “bread” crumbly. Given this, it occurred to me that a shortbread made with a lot of acorn flour, which is gluten-free, would work really well.
I am happy to report that it does. These little cakes (or big cookies, depending on your point of view), are not only fantastic, but they also hold up for a long time.
Why acorn flour? Well, I like the flavor. Acorn flour tastes a little like chestnuts, and gives the cookies a “warm” flavor that feels more rustic than a typical Scottish shortbread, which is normally made with white flour and white sugar. You could of course substitute other flours for acorns. I’d suggest, in order: chestnut flour, almond flour, barley, rye or whole wheat flour.
I also substitute maple sugar for some of the regular sugar. Maple sugar can be bought in good supermarkets or you can buy maple sugar online. A good substitute would be that brown turbinado sugar you see as “sugar in the raw” in coffee shops.
So while yes, these are great cookies to make at home and eat there, they are also a perfect thing to make for a hiking or hunting trip. Store them in a little tin and put them in your backpack — they’re way better than a typical granola bar.
Acorn Maple Shortbread Cookies
This is a great cookie to bring on hunting trips or when you’re hiking, because they will keep for days. You really get a sense of the acorn flavor here, and the maple and vanilla play a strong backup. Feel free to sub in some other flour for the acorns if you don’t have any.
It’s very important to work with icy cold dough here, or else the cookies will flatten. They’ll still taste great, but won’t be very shortbread-y.
Makes about a dozen large cookies.
Prep Time: 45 minutes, including chill time for the dough.
Cook Time: 25 minutes
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup maple sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- A pinch of salt
- 1 cup all-purpose or King Arthur’s “white whole wheat” flour
- 1 cup acorn flour
- Put the butter in a large bowl and add the sugars. Use a fork or spoon to mix them together until well combined. Add the vanilla extract.
- In another bowl, mix the salt and the flours with a whisk until combined. Pour the flour mixture into the bowl with the butter and sugar and mix well with the fork or spoon. The dough will come together quickly, but will be sticky. Don’t overwork it, but be sure you don’t have hidden blobs of butter in your dough.
- Shape the dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and set in the freezer about 2 hours, and up to overnight in the fridge. The dough must be very cold for this to work, or the cookies will collapse.
- When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Flatten the disk of dough to about 1/2 inch thick and cut into cookies. I used a 2-inch cutter, but any sort of cutter would do. An acorn-shaped one would be cute. Keep soing this, reshaping the dough, until you’ve used it all.
- Arrange the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 23 to 26 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies just begin to brown.