Hazelnut-Vanilla Shortbread

Although made with a nontraditional flour, these gluten-free hazelnut shortbread bars are comfortingly familiar and crumbly.
Martha Stewart Living, April 2009
  • Yield Makes 18
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  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod reserved for another use
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown-rice flour
  • 3 ounces blanched hazelnuts, finely ground (1 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides.

  2. Cream butter, vanilla seeds, and sugar with a mixer until fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add flour, hazelnuts, and salt. Press into pan; freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Score shortbread into 18 pieces; bake until gold, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes; unmold using overhang. Let cool on a wire rack. Cut into pieces. Shortbread will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.

Cook's Note

Brown-rice (#1460C24), $3.03 for 24 oz.; almond (#4999C16), $12.17 for 16 oz.; and quinoa (#1448C22), $11.22 for 22 oz.; from Bob's Red Mill, 800-349-2173 bobsredmill.com.

Recipe Reviews

Reviews (9)

  • MrDesigner 14 Nov, 2012

    These cookies turned out to be a great gluten-free treat.
    I reduced the baking time to 40 minutes to avoid burning.
    I tossed them in the freezer and I would eat them without defrosting. They were delicious.

  • Anne7211 12 Apr, 2011

    If you are gluten-free, try baking your cakes using a combination of coen flour and tapioca flour to give a smooth, non-grainy taste.

  • ohtiff 13 Jan, 2011

    I have been baking GF for some time, but always need to add xantham gum to the dry ingredients to help hold everything together. If it is TOO "crumbly" - adding a tsp. of xantham gum ( avail in health food stores - necessary for breads/ cookies ) will solve it.

  • Kwleia 15 Jul, 2010

    This shortbread had a great flavor and you could substitute almond meal or a mix of ground nuts to substitute for hazelnuts. The lower amount of butter was compensated for by the fast in the nuts making it a perfect ratio, and I would definitely still call this shortbread. One important thing--mine only took about half the amount of time listed in the recipe to finish baking and turn golden, so be careful.

  • cnf123 25 Jun, 2010

    People, please note. This is gluten-free. In gluten-free baking you tend to use a bit less fat because the rice flour doesn't soak it up the same as wheat flours. I think it sounds good and will try it right away. This is a true shortbread, the nuts are ground into flour, therefore only flour, butter and sugar are the composition.

  • Superpup 18 Jun, 2010

    Of course this isn't going to be the exact same texture as traditional shortbread, but things change when you make a recipe gluten free. It probably isn't as dry as it appears because the hazelnuts add fat. It seemed like you felt there was a mistake in this recipe. I think it just is what it is. If you like the idea of hazelnut shortbread but think this isn't the right texture, you should start with a traditional recipe and add hazelnuts to that rather than try to convert this one.

  • mykele 17 Jun, 2010

    Superpup, actually this is not a valid shortbread recipe...The many I have
    made in the past 50 years always have much more butter thus not
    crumbly but firm and buttery smooth. Ground hazelnuts and rice flour
    just are not of the composition to make aa true shortbread. A good
    shortbread can be molded and stamped with patterned wood shapes.

  • Superpup 17 Jun, 2010

    Shortbread is supposed to have a crumbly, sandy texture. Most shortbread recipes are only butter, flour and sugar. You probably would enjoy a different type of cookie. Good luck!

  • mykele 16 Jun, 2010

    I am never in a rush to make a cookie recipe that has the word crumbly
    in the description. I prefer that a cookie or bar cookie retain its'
    shape and not fall apart. That comes from a too dry dough to begin
    with. Here the only bit of moisture is the butter. Love to learn
    how others who make the cookie succeed . Thank you. Mykele