Chocolate-Almond Shortbread Cookies

Another idea for your cookie Christmas plate – or for shipping cross-country to your favorite cookie monster. These crisp little chocolate shortbreads are slice 'n' bake, easy-easy to make and "low sugar" or what I call "almost sugar free". For anyone who avoids wheat? The cookies are also made with almond meal instead of flour, that makes them gluten-free. All this adds up to Low Carb and Weight Watchers friendly too! No need to worry, though, everyone enjoys these bite-size chocolate-almond cookies.

PS Something special is new on A Veggie Venture this week, a beautiful video featuring expert lefse-maker LeAnne Kruger, sharing her recipe, tips and techniques for How to Make Lefse, the soft, tender Scandinavian bread that's traditional at Christmas. It just might add to your Christmas spirit!

Chocolate-Almond Shortbread Cookies ♥, crisp little chocolate shortbreads, easy to ship. Made with almond meal. Gluten Free, Low Sugar and Low Carb.

Just Seven Ingredients. Slice 'n' Bake. Sturdy for Shipping. A New Addition to The Homemade Pantry, a Kitchen Parade Specialty. Year-Round Kitchen Staple. Budget Friendly. Great for Food Gifts. Potluck & Party Friendly. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Wheat-Free. Egg-Free. Naturally Gluten Free. Almost Sugar-Free.

Feeding the Cookie Monster.

My 88-year old father is a life-long cookie monster. In the years we spend Christmas together, he’s the first at the table for our traditional any-time-of-day “cookie parties”. In the years we’re apart, Fedex exacts a small fortune to ship butter and sugar and flour his way.

Awhile back, Dad became a most-frustrated cookie monster when sugar became off-limits, if only because “just one or two cookies” was hard to accept.

When Kalyn’s Kitchen published a list of Low-Sugar, No-Sugar and Flourless Cookies for the Holidays, I was struck – her cookies just might work. In a single day, I mixed up three of Kalyn’s cookies, adapting each recipe to my own style.

Chocolate-Almond Shortbread was the favorite, a cookie that need not be relegated to the "sugar-free" cookie tray but can stand on its own, enjoyed by all.

The shortbread is barely sweet, crisp but not hard and definitely chocolate-y. Even though the low-carb, high-protein almond meal is substituted for flour, the texture is surprisingly similar to shortbread baked with all-purpose flour.

Now, please know, because almond meal is 100% almonds, it’s more expensive than flour, think $5 a pound. But to keep my cookie-monster father happy and healthy? Priceless.

What, Exactly, Is Shortbread?

Shortbread is an old-fashioned butter cookie that originated in Scotland but remains revered. If you'd like to try Scottish shortbread without pulling out a mixer, buy a box of Walker's Shortbread. I'm especially fond of the variation that includes candied ginger.

Shortbread is one of those food words that gets tossed out as if everyone knows what it means. If you have Scottish heritage (or in my case, English and Canadian) shortbread is likely in your culinary DNA. But others? Not so much.

Shortbread isn't short and it isn't even bread!

The word "short" itself suggests a high proportion of butter which limits the flour's ability to form long strands of protein (gluten). The word "bread"

Ingredient-wise, traditional shortbread is a very simple cookie made with a few ingredients, flour, sugar and butter. When it's done well (and it isn't always, there was a time when I made terrible shortbread), a shortbread cookie is a thing of wonder, crisp and buttery, full of nuance, ready to almost melt in your mouth.

Interestingly, shortbread gets better and better over time. Once I found a tin of shortbread at the bottom of a deep drawer in the kitchen weeks and weeks after Christmas. It was so good!

Traditional shortbread is made with one part sugar, two parts butter and three or four parts flour — and no leavening. So if you find yourself without baking soda or baking powder, save the day with shortbread!

Shortbread dough is quite stiff and shortbread cookies keep their shape while baking, especially if the dough has been chilled first. Traditional shapes are triangles cut from a circle; rectangular "fingers" with tiny poke holes; and cutout shapes.

Some times a shortbread dough is used in a tart crust. Other shortbread riffs are fun. In today's recipe for Chocolate-Almond Shortbread Cookies, for example, there are two variations: the addition of chocolate and the substitution of almond meal for flour.

One final question.

Is the "shortcake" in strawberry shortcake, say, made with shortbread? Nope! Shortcakes are closer in ingredients (including leavening) and texture to a baking powder or cream biscuit. Suddenly hungry for strawberry shortcake? Me too! Check out my Strawberry Shortcake Iowa-Style.

About This Recipe: Chocolate-Almond Shortbread Cookies

  • After all that discussion of traditional shortbread, let me just say, this recipe is not traditional shortbread.
  • Instead, it's a variation that adds unsweetened cocoa powder for chocolate flavor; substitutes almond meal for flour for gluten-free nuttiness; substitutes stevia or Splenda for most of the sugar for lower calories and fewer carbs; and is rolled into logs for slice 'n' bake cookie rounds for extra-easy baking.
  • That said, it's still very much shortbread and I wouldn't hesitate to serve this chocolate version side-by-side with traditional shortbread like my Family Shortbread.
  • Distinctive Ingredients = Almond Meal + Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • Short Ingredient List = both the above + salted butter + stevia or splenda + brown sugar + vanilla
  • For Garnish = almond slivers for the cookie tops
  • Notably, this recipe is useful for what's not on the ingredient list. There's no flour. There's no egg. There's no baking powder. There's no baking soda. There's barely any sugar, just two tablespoons. Moreover, there's no lemon zest, no rice flour, no cornstarch, no chocolate chips, no cranberries, no jam, no add'ins.
  • This recipe uses the traditional technique for slice 'n' bake cookies. After mixing, the dough is rolled into logs with your hands then wrapped in wax paper for chilling. When it's time to bake, just slice a roll of dough with a sharp knife. Cool, eh? So simple!
  • This is definitely a time-friendly recipe, just be sure to allow 12 - 24 hours for chilling the dough. But the dough itself is super-quick to mix and of course, there's nothing quicker than slice 'n' bake cookies.
  • This is pantry-friendly recipe, many bakers will already have these seven ingredients on hand.
  • This is a calorie-friendly recipe, thanks to calling for just 2 tablespoons of brown sugar plus 6 tablespoons of a sugar substitute like stevia or Splenda.
  • This is a travel-friendly and shipping-friendly cookie. It's sturdy enough to withstand some jostling and the flavors continue to develop over a few days and even a few weeks.
  • As written, the recipe makes 36 small cookies.
  • This recipe works especially well for those Cooking for One or Two. First, it's already a small batch but may also be easily halved. Second, the dough freezes well; you might shape several logs of unbaked dough, then bake one at a time as needed.
  • So good! I hope you love these!

  • If you like the idea of shortbread, be sure to check out my family's signature cookie, Family Shortbread, including all our tips and tricks.
  • Not quite what you're looking for? Check out my other cookie recipes.

For Best Results

For my weekly column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I interviewed chefs and translated their restaurant recipes for home kitchens. The most illuminating question? "How can a home cook ensure the same results?" So now I ask that question of myself, too, for my own recipes. Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

Use Salted Butter This is hard for many bakers who are schooled in the common wisdom that unsalted butter lets you control the amount of salt. But to my taste buds — and millions of bakers in Europe where salted butter is the norm — salted butter is key to our baking results.

Bookmark! PIN! Share!

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this a gluten-free, sugar-free cookie inspires you, please do save and share! I'd be honored ...

Chocolate-Almond Shortbread Cookies ♥, crisp little chocolate shortbreads, easy to ship. Made with almond meal. Gluten Free, Low Sugar and Low Carb.


Hands-on time: 25 minutes over 1 hour
Rest time: 12 - 24 hours
Makes 3 dozen small cookies
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 8 tablespoons, 114g) salted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (190g) almond meal
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Hershey’s Dark
  • 6 tablespoons (13g) Stevia or Splenda
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Almond slivers, toasted

MIX THE DOUGH In a large bowl, combine the butter and almond meal with an electric mixer, just enough to combine, you don’t want to add air to shortbread dough. Add the remaining ingredients and again, mix just enough to combine.

CHILL THE DOUGH Collect the dough in your hands, then roll into one or two long rolls about 2 inches across. Wrap in plastic wrap and roll on the counter a bit to make more “round”. Refrigerate until as solid as cold butter, 12 – 24 hours.

BAKE Heat the oven to 350F/175C. Place a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet. Slice the rolls of dough into cookies about 1/3 inch thick, that’s about 12 grams each. Arrange on the baking sheet, the cookies can be very close together, say less than an inch apart since they don’t spread. Press an almond sliver into the top.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cookies are firm but not dry. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet.

ALANNA's TIPS When baking with Splenda and Stevia, one or two other flavors must really come out, otherwise that metallic artificial sweetener flavor takes over. That’s why I especially recommend a “dark” unsweetened cocoa powder from Hershey's called "Special Dark", even if it’s become the only cocoa powder I use anymore, I like it that much. Taste is also the reason Kalyn recommends using 2 tablespoons brown sugar in cookies otherwise sweetened with Splenda or Stevia. Look for almond meal at Trader Joe’s. For anyone who ships cookies across country, this page from King Arthur Flour has so many great tips.

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See .

PLAYING AROUND I use a small sliver of almond to embellish the top – otherwise Chocolate-Almond Shortbread looks oh-so-plain on a cookie tray. Other ideas? Before slicing, roll the cookie dough in additional almond meal. Or you could use a strong teaspoon of espresso to substitute for vanilla.

CRAZY FOR CHRISTMAS COOKIES? Yeah, me too. You'll appreciate this, Holiday Baking Tips from a Certifiable Cookie-Baking Fiend

VEGAN SHORTBREAD? I haven't tried this recipe with vegan butter but think it would work quite well. That would make these vegan cookies!

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cookie/Two Cookies: 60/121 Calories; 5/10g Tot Fat; 2/4g Sat Fat; 6/13mg Cholesterol; 18/36mg Sodium; 2/4g Carb; 1/2g Fiber; 1/2g Sugar; 1/3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 1.5/3 & PointsPlus 2/3 & future WW points

Seasonal Cooking: Up to Your Elbows in Sugar and Flour?

Frosty Christmas Trees Homemade Microwave Caramel Corn Gourmet Chocolate Mocha Cookies Gingerbread Muffins Graham Cracker Toffee Cranberry Macadamia-Butter Cookies Butter Tart Bars Perfect M&M Cookies Sesame Candy Fresh Cranberry Drop Cookies Chocolate Ginger Crinkle Cookies Colored Roll-Out Sugar Cookies Holiday Baking Tips from a Certifiable Cookie-Baking Fiend No-Roll Christmas Sugar Cookies Bourbon Pralines Slice 'n' Bake Coffee Cookies with Chocolate-Covered Espresso Beans Fresh Cranberry Cake Chocolate-Almond Shortbread Cookies Christmas Banana Bread Fresh Cranberry Bars Old-Fashioned Chocolate Chip Cookies Family Shortbread Cranberry Walnut Bread Big Fat Chewy Molasses Cookies

This Week, Elsewhere

~ Liver Napoli ~
from Cafe Napoli in Clayton
~ more St. Louis Restaurant Recipes ~
My Weekly Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

~ How to Make Norwegian Lefse (Video) ~
~ more Recent Recipes ~
A Veggie Venture

If you like Kitchen Parade's recipes, you'll love A Veggie Venture, my food blog about vegetables with more from-scratch recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, home to the famous Alphabet of Vegetables and vegetables in every course, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

Fire Up the Oven!

A collection of seasonal cookie recipes ♥ Drop cookies, cutout cookies, shortbread, slice 'n' bake, classic cookies, fun cookies and more.
~ cookie recipes ~
Family Shortbread ♥, spare, simple, ethereal English shortbread. Lots of family tricks and tips, all in one place.

Big Fat Chewy Molasses Cookies ♥ Mix and bake in one hour!

Gourmet Chocolate Mocha Cookies ♥, decadently chocolate-y, laced with espresso, almost like a brownie cookie or a fudge cookie. Wonderful with a glass of cold milk.

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ almond recipes ~
~ chocolate recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna