Monday, December 07, 2009

Recipe for Flourless and Low-Sugar (or Sugar-Free) Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-Free)

Flourless and Low Sugar (or sugar-free) Chocolate Shortbread Cookies just might become your favorite Christmas cookie!

Flourless and Low-Sugar (or Sugar-Free) Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-Free) found on

(Kalyn's Kitchen is part of Holiday 2009 at, and this is one of the recipes being featured there, and is also part of the Christmas Recipes at Kalyn's Kitchen. Welcome to anyone visiting from!)

By the time most people read this on Tuesday, it will officially be my birthday, although due to the magic of Facebook friends around the world, I started getting birthday wishes a day early. I've always been one of those people who says when it's your birthday you should celebrate with gusto, but since I revealed my age last year, this year I'm playing it low key and just planning to enjoy the day. The beautiful green plate you see in the photo above is my first birthday present, from my friend Dara at Cookin' Canuck (thanks Dara!) I guess the delicious chocolate shortbread cookies on the plate are my birthday present to myself, because I've been eating them for days while I tested a couple of variations of this recipe!

The holidays can be a terrific challenge for people who need to limit their sugar for health reasons, or even anyone who's seriously dieting and doesn't want to break their momentum. If you're one of those people, you can certainly make this recipe with all Splenda or Stevia and get a good result, but the version I liked best was the one that replaced two tablespoons of the sweetener with brown sugar. I made these gluten-free cookies with both almond meal and almond flour (which are close, but not exactly the same.) Both worked fine, although the almond meal was easier to work with. Also, please don't call the South Beach Diet police, but I did use butter. I'm sure you can make them with margarine, but the idea of margarine in a Christmas cookie just seems wrong. I rarely make cookies, so I figure when I do I'm going to enjoy the splurge.

Flourless and Low-Sugar (or Sugar-Free) Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-Free) found on KalynsKitchen.comPut the butter in a plastic bowl and let it soften (or if you're impatient like I was, microwave for a few minutes at low power.)

Flourless and Low-Sugar (or Sugar-Free) Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-Free) found on KalynsKitchen.comHalfway through I smacked myself on the forehead and said "I just bought a KitchenAid mixer" but I used a hand mixer to combine the butter, almond meal, Splenda or Stevia, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla.

Flourless and Low-Sugar (or Sugar-Free) Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-Free) found on KalynsKitchen.comThen add the chocolate powder and continue to mix until it's well combined with the other ingredients.

Flourless and Low-Sugar (or Sugar-Free) Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-Free) found on KalynsKitchen.comI made balls just slightly less than a tablespoon of dough, which gave me about 20 cookies. (I'm baking them in the toaster oven, so I had two batches.) You need parchment paper to bake these on.

Flourless and Low-Sugar (or Sugar-Free) Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-Free) found on KalynsKitchen.comUse a fork to mash down the balls and make the cookies the same size. (I can be a bit compulsive about the fork marks, see how nice and even they are!)

Flourless and Low-Sugar (or Sugar-Free) Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-Free) found on KalynsKitchen.comThe cookies bake at 300F/150C for about 40 minutes, and they're somewhat soft until they cool.

Flourless and Low-Sugar (or Sugar-Free) Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-Free) found on KalynsKitchen.comCool a few minutes on the baking sheet, then slide the parchment paper off onto a cooling rack and let them cool longer, about 30 minutes total cooling time.

Flourless and Low-Sugar (or Sugar-Free) Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-Free) found on KalynsKitchen.comFlourless and Low-Sugar (or Sugar-Free) Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
(Makes about 20 medium-sized cookies, recipe adapted from 500 More Low-Carb Recipesby Dana Carpender)

1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine, softened
2 cups almond meal or almond flour (both will work, although almond flour makes a stickier cookie that's harder to work with)
6 T granular Splenda or Stevia-in-the-Raw Granulated Sweetener
2 T brown sugar (or use 2 T more Splenda or Stevia for completely sugar-free cookies)
1/2 tsp. salt (or less if you use salted butter)
1 tsp. vanilla
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 300F/150C. Put butter or margarine in a plastic bowl and let soften, or microwave for a few minutes on lowest power, then when it's soft, cut into pieces. Add almond meal, Splenda or Stevia granulated sweetener, brown sugar (if using), salt, and vanilla and use stand mixer or electric hand mixer to beat until well combined. (This took much longer to combine with the almond flour than it did with the almond meal.)

When ingredients are combined, add the cocoa powder and mix again until it's evenly mixed into the batter. When it comes together it will all stick to the beaters. Turn on high and let the dough spin off the beaters. (I put the bowl in the sink when I did this!)

Put a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Scoop out less than one tablespoon of dough at a time and roll into balls, arranging on parchment and spacing them far enough apart that you can smash down the cookies. (They don't spread out much when they're baking.) Smash down with a fork so they're about 1/4 inch thick.

Bake for 40 minutes, then remove cookies, let them cool on the baking sheet a few minutes, then slide parchment off onto a cooling rack and let cool about 20 minutes more (30 minutes total cooling.)

Cookies will last for several days in a plastic container with a lid, if you can manage to keep from eating them sooner than that. (I'm sure they could last even longer in the fridge, but I didn't refrigerate them.)
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These very chocolatey cookies are my entry for one of the most fun food blogging events of the year, Eat Christmas Cookies, sponsored by my friend Susan from Food Blogga. Surely you're making cookies, so why not join in the fun? And be sure to check out all the wonderful-looking cookies that other bloggers have entered.

South Beach Suggestions:
I've already confessed that I made my cookies with butter, which is not really allowed for the South Beach Diet, even when it's Christmas time. And although these cookies are definitely made with low-glycemic ingredients, they're high in fat and calorie-dense, due to the combination or butter and almond meal, so this is definitely something I'd save for a "once-in-a-while treat" and limited to Phase 2 or 3 for South Beach dieters.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

Flourless and Low-Sugar (or Sugar-Free) Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-Free) found on

More Low-Sugar or Sugar-Free Cookies
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Flourless and (almost) Sugar-Free Cookies with Peanut Butter and Chocolate from Kalyn's Kitchen
Chocolate Macaroons from Healthy Green Lifestyle
Two Recipes for Sugar-Free and Flourless Chocolate and Oatmeal Cluster Cookies from Kalyn's Kitchen
Sugar-Free Pecan Coconut Macaroons from Gluten-Free Bay
Flourless, Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Cookies from Kalyn's Kitchen
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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  1. Kalyn, these cookies sound like a *wonderful* present for yourself and everyone who reads this recipe. Happy happy birthday to you!
    Maura in Charlotte, NC

  2. Whoa! Christmas cookies WILL be mine after all! THANK YOU. This looks fantastic.

    And birthday cheers!

    -- Anne

  3. Happy Birthday Kalyn!!! Hope its a great one! I want to give these cookies a try- but I'm frightened I might eat them all!

    Georgie Fear RD

  4. Happy birthday Kalyn! You deserve a SUPER good one. Filled with tons of good food. Including these cookies!

    Chocolate, low-sugar, AND gluten-free - amazing.

  5. Joyful birthday, Kalyn! What a delicious way to celebrate. I'll be trying this for sure, though without the Splenda.

  6. kalyn ,I hope your birthday was as good as your cookies...thank you for all your great recipes I'm enjoying them one at a time!!!

  7. you hot hot thing you! And to say I knew you when...

    Read the title, and I was reminded of a story... I got married in Jamaica. One of those resorts that takes care of everything, including the wedding cake. there is a three day waiting period that you have to be on the island prior to getting married. We kept seeing these beautiful wedding cakes, in the trash barely touched after people who arrived before us had their nuptuals.

    Long story short, local custom is good luck to serve a flourless cake for a wedding...

    There was a reason all those cakes were in the trash...

    BUT, as a cookie, these sound wonderful. I think it was more the expectation (they looked wonderful) of the cake.

    And OPRAH... you ROCK!

  8. Happy Bday Kalyn! Treat yourself to an extra cookie....they look great!

  9. Oh, these look so yummy!

  10. those look delicious! I'm excited to try them.

    Happy birthday!

  11. Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes and Oprah congratulations too. I woke up to tons of snow on my birthday, so now I'm trying to decide whether to go out in it, or just lay low and postpone the plans to another day! So wonderful to have the option though!

  12. I am still so excited for your Oprah gig, you are a superstar! The cookies look wonderful. I hope you have a happy happy birthday.

  13. Happy Birthday, Kalyn! I'm so glad you are enjoying the plate. I am amazed that gluten-free shortbread cookies can look and sound so delicious. I am definitely going to make these for my mostly gluten-free dad.

  14. Happy Birthday! What a great sugar free cookie! Wow - Oprah!

  15. happy birthday! and that plate is gorgeous! i can't wait to pass this and the pistachio cookie recipe on to my Celiac friend :)

  16. Oh happy birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!! and here you are giving US another gift! I appreciate you so much. :) The cookies look faboulous and the plate does them justice. Can't wait to try them. Have a wonderful day!!!

  17. Those look great! I have a lot of patients that will enjoy a sugar-free/gluten-free cookie recipe!

  18. Happiest of Birthdays to You!

    Your food and you are both so delightful - so glad to have met you this year.

    I wish you many more joyful years to come!

    -- Donna

  19. Happy Birthday Kalyn! And how nice of you to give us a present with this recipe. ;)

  20. These look great: I'll be trying them for sure. Congratulations on both the birthday and the Kitchen Aid! And, as always, thanks for these recipes. Your blog has become a real "go-to" source for me (and I'm sure, others). Oh - and congrats on the Oprah gig. Very nice!

  21. Happy Birthday, Kalyn! Here's wishing you much laughter and love, friendship and good food in the coming year.

    Your flourless cookies all look so good. I'm struggling to figure out which one to make.

  22. Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes. My dad has been having a rather bad day today, so I actually haven't done too much birthday celebrating yet, but I've got a birthday lunch tomorrow and a birthday dinner on Thursday, so I'm definitely not being neglected!

    My cookies, are gone, but they were really good!

  23. Wow your birthday cookies look fantastic Kalyn, I'm very keen to give them a try. Many birthdays hugs to you and some for your Dad too! xx

  24. Happy Birthday Kalyn ! And congrats on the Oprah gig...the cookies sound like a great way to celebrate :-)

  25. Kalyn, these sound good, but I have a question. I found Almond meal at our Walmart but it costs over $9 for a small bag, so I was wondering if I used flour (these would be made for a diabetic, so just looking for low-sugar, not gluten-free), would I still use 2 cups? Thanks!

  26. Chelsea, I don't have any idea how substituting flour for the almond meal would work, so I can't really answer that. All I can suggest is try it and see how it turns out.

  27. Happy Birthday!! These cookies look fabulous.

    I know South Beach isn't big on butter but I eat it with no problem at all. I don't eat tons of it but I do use it in my baking and cooking. I'm with you - enjoy it!!

    Chelsea - I think you could sub flour for the almond flour. Instead of playing the guessing game (which takes some time!) I'd search for a sugar-free shortbread cookie. Just my two cents!

  28. Yumma-Yum-Yum! Delicious, chocolate-y, and good for you? Thank you, Kalyn! You have just made many people very happy! Thanks for the kind words about my event too! :)

  29. I almost forgot! Congratulations on the Oprah spotlight! You have certainly earned it, Kalyn.

  30. Amy, good to know that I'm not the only one who indulges in a little butter once in a while. I also don't eat it often, but in cookies I think it makes a lot of difference.

    Susan, thanks! I do think your Christmas Cookies event is so fun!

  31. Tried this recipe and it was great! The almond flour gave the cookie a nice nutty flavor. The only trouble with this cookie is that I eat too many!


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