Tuesday, July 21, 2015

NEW RECIPE: Iced Orange Chia Seed Shortbreads (Gluten Free AND Vegan)

Copyright 2015, Constantine William Spyrou. All rights reserved. 

Cookies are by far my favorite dessert to make. They are one of the first things I ever learned how to make back in culinary class in high school, and have stuck with me since. I have created cookies with key lime, holiday spice, and many other ingredients infused in them. 

Sadly, my sister was diagnosed with Celiac disease a couple of years ago. As such, she couldn't eat the cookies I made because they had wheat in them. I decided to try and come up with a recipe that involved the making of gluten-free cookies. However, I also decided to go with a vegan route to make cookies that could be enjoyable in any time of the year or fasting period. To ensure that they were vegan, I used soy-free oil sticks(non-hydrogenated, of course) in place of butter and a chia seed trick I discovered as a nifty egg substitute. 

These cookies are extremely surprising in that for a gluten-free, vegan, cookie, they taste almost nothing like one. They have almost identical feel and smell, and one of my friends had no idea they were gluten-free or vegan until after I told them! This flavor, iced orange, is my personal favorite because it has a perfect balance of sweet and citrus on it.

The icing is not a traditional thick icing, but rather a simple, clear paste that hardens on the cooled cookies to give them more texture and a boost in flavor. All in all, this is a delicious cookie that is easily one of my more signature desserts! 

Note: The recipe below is given in BOTH metric and US measurements, because I've developed it with both in mind. 

Recipe makes 18-20 cookies. The US version makes more than the metric measurements.

For the Cookie Dough:

225 g or 1/2 pound solid soy-free oil sticks (I recommend the Earth Balance brand for this)
225 g or 1/2 pound granulated sugar
450 g or 1 pound brown rice flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp chia seeds, ground
1/4 cup/2 fl oz water
Zest of 1 large orange or 2 small oranges (about 2 tbsp)

For the Icing:

Juice of 2 large oranges or 4 small oranges (about 1 cup)
1 cup powdered/icing sugar


1. Mix the ground chia seeds and water extremely well, and let sit for about an hour for the mixture to thicken and take on a gel-like consistency.

2. Cut the oil sticks into small pieces and add with the sugar into a mixing bowl. Cream using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer until all of the oil is broken down and the mixture doubles in volume, about 3-4 minutes on high speed. (Start on a low speed for a minute first for optimal results).

3. Add in the chia seed mixture, the vanilla extract, and the orange zest. Mix slowly for a minute to combine well.

4. Slowly add in the brown rice flour in small portions until fully combined. Let the dough chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

5. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Evenly shape and space out 1 1/2-inch diameter cookies onto greased or parchment paper-covered cookie sheets.

6. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Let cool.

7. As the cookies cool, whisk together the orange juice and powdered sugar to make the icing. Once the cookies are cool, spoon a half tablespoon of the icing over each cookie, and let set before serving.

These shortbreads have amazing flavor from the fragrance and acidity of the orange combined with the sweetness of the sugar inside that balances it out perfectly. Brown rice flour has some of the best texture for gluten-free baking, and the chia seed mix acts like eggs would in normaly cooking dough, making these the most normal gluten-free vegan cookies you'll ever try!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

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