Valentine’s Day Heart Shortbread Cookies

These Valentine’s Day cookies are very easy to make, yet look and taste incredibly impressive. The gluten free shortbread cookies are perfectly buttery with a melt-in-the-mouth-texture and keep their shape beautifully in the oven without spreading. (And they don’t need to be chilled before baking!) The raspberry icing gives the cookies a wonderfully tart, refreshing berry flavour, and makes them look simply amazing.

Overhead view of decorated heart-shaped Valentine's Day cookies.

Hi friends. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to share with you these delightful Valentine’s Day heart shortbread cookies.

I’m personally not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day, but I’m all for cute desserts and treats that look incredibly impressive but require minimal effort (and definitely no intricately piped icing). And that describes these gluten free shortbread cookies perfectly.

They’re very easy to prepare – no special equipment needed, just a bowl, a wooden spoon, a bit of elbow grease and patience, and your usual (gluten free) pantry staples. Decorating them is equally easy: just dip them into an icing made up of icing/powdered sugar, lemon juice and a raspberry reduction, artfully toss a few sprinkles on there, and you’ll have created an adorable, delicious masterpiece.

Overhead view of decorated heart-shaped Valentine's Day cookies.

And most importantly: for all their simplicity, these Valentine’s Day cookies are really incredibly delicious. First, there are the shortbread cookies themselves. They’re perfectly buttery and crumbly, with a melt-in-the-mouth texture, and flavoured beautifully with vanilla bean paste.

This recipe is also optimised to make cut-out cookies that hold their shape in the oven, without any spreading. This makes it PERFECT for these Valentine’s Day heart cookies. (Oh, and they don’t require any chilling either, how great is that?!)

Then, there’s the raspberry icing. It’s 100% naturally coloured with a simple raspberry reduction, which gives the cookies the most wonderfully tart and refreshing berry flavour. And, of course, it looks simply stunning.

I actually adapted this recipe from my go-to gluten free shortbread biscuits recipe that’s included in my book, Baked to Perfection, which is now available to pre-order with all major booksellers – and if you pre-order, you also get a BONUS RECIPE E-BOOK!!!

In the book, I share all my experience with and knowledge about gluten free baking, and it includes numerous fundamental recipes that every successful gluten free baker should know (including an extensive bread chapter). You can get more info about the book and all the pre-order links here!

Two shortbread cookies: one plain without icing, the other decorated with pink raspberry icing.

Before we get to the bits and bobs of making these wonderful cookies – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.

How do you make these gluten free Valentine’s Day cookies?

Making gluten free Valentine’s Day heart shortbread cookies seriously couldn’t be easier:

  1. In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix together the softened butter, superfine/caster sugar and vanilla bean paste until combined. (Don’t cream the butter and sugar – just stir them all together until you get a homogeneous mixture. Creaming would introduce air into the mixture, which can cause the cookies to spread out in the oven and lose their pretty shape.)
  2. Sift together the gluten free flour blend, cornstarch, xanthan gum and salt, and add them to the butter-sugar mixture. Mix well.
  3. Initially, you’ll get a VERY CRUMBLY dough – and you’ll be 100% convinced that it will never come together in a ball, but just continue kneading it.
  4. Knead the cookie dough by hand until it comes together. This might take around 5 minutes, but it will eventually come together, don’t worry.
  5. Then, roll out the cookie dough between two sheets of baking/greaseproof paper. This will prevent it from cracking or crumbling during rolling (remember, it is a fairly delicate cookie dough). You want the dough to be about 5mm thick.
  6. Cut out the cookies using a large heart-shaped cookie cutter about 3 inches/7.5cm in diameter.
  7. Using a small offset spatula, transfer the cookies onto a lined large baking sheet, spacing them out slightly (you want about ½ inch or 1cm space between them, they don’t really spread out during baking).
  8. Then, use a smaller heart-shaped cookie cutter about 1 ½ inches/3.8cm in diameter to cut out the middle of each cookie. You can remove this smaller heart with the help of a fork – see photo below. (I recommend transferring the cookies onto the baking sheet first and only then cutting out the middle, so as to maintain the perfect shape of the cookies as much as possible. Transferring them when the centre is already cut out makes it easier to either destroy the nice heart shape or even to break the delicate cookie while you’re lifting it.)
  9. And then, bake! The baked cookies should be light golden in colour.

The process of cutting out and removing the middle of each heart-shaped shortbread cookie.

Baked heart-shaped shortbread cookies on a lined baking sheet.

How do you make the raspberry icing?

There are only three ingredients in this icing: fresh or frozen raspberries, icing/powdered sugar and lemon juice.

First, you need to make a raspberry reduction by cooking the raspberries in a saucepan until they have softened and released their juices. Once softened, pass them through a sieve to remove the seeds and skins, and finally reduce the juices until thick and syrupy.

Then, mix the raspberry reduction with the icing/powdered sugar and lemon juice until you’ve reached the desired colour and consistency.

This icing recipe is incredibly flexible. For example, by adding a smaller amount of the raspberry reduction, you can get a very pale pink icing – and to balance out the smaller amount of reduction added, just add a bit more lemon juice to get to the desired consistency.

Similarly, if you want a darker, more vibrant pink icing, use a larger amount of the raspberry reduction and a smaller amount of lemon juice.

You’ll notice in the photos that I’ve adjusted the colour of my icing halfway through decorating the cookies. This way, half is decorated with a slightly lighter pink icing and the other half with a slightly darker, more intense pink icing.

All that’s to say: let your creativity run wild, have fun, and decorate these Valentine’s Day cookies however you desire.

Overhead view of decorated heart-shaped Valentine's Day cookies.

Why are my gluten free shortbread cookies too crumbly?

There are a couple of reasons for why your shortbread cookies might be too crumbly.

Firstly, gluten free flour blends can vary widely between different brands, and their composition has an huge impact of the texture of your cookies. It could be that your particular blend gives crumblier cookies. In that case, you’ll have to slightly increase the amounts of xanthan gum and/or butter in the cookie dough.

Secondly, you didn’t add xanthan gum to the cookie dough. Xanthan gum gives gluten free bakes some elasticity and flexibility, effectively acting as a gluten substitute. Without xanthan gum, the cookies will be very crumbly – so I really don’t recommend omitting it or trying to replace it with a different ingredient.

Thirdly, you changed the ingredient ratios in the recipe (for whatever reason). These cookies contain a rather small number of ingredients, so their relative proportions are absolutely crucial. Changing any of the ingredient quantities can throw off the whole recipe, and can result either in cookies that are too crumbly or in cookies that spread in the oven.

This brings us to the second potential problem…

Why do my gluten free shortbread cookies spread out in the oven?

This is probably because your ratio of butter to all the dry ingredients was too high – and it definitely shouldn’t happen if you follow the recipe to the letter.

I’ve optimised the recipe to give cut-out shortbread cookies that keep their shape beautifully in the oven without any chilling required. At the same time, the baked cookies are deliciously buttery, just crumbly enough, and have a nice ‘snap’ to them.

Listen, I know that the initial cookie dough (before kneading) is incredibly crumbly and that can be quite scary. BUT don’t go adding more butter or any liquids to it, in the hope that will bring it together in a ball more easily. Adding more butter or liquids will most certainly give cookies that spread out in the oven – and thus lose their beautiful heart shape. Just keep kneading and the dough will come together and you will get cookies as beautiful as those you see in the photos here.

And that’s really all there is to it, friends. Don’t be fooled by this rather long post – these Valentine’s Day cookies truly are VERY EASY to make. I just always want to give you as many details and notes as possible, so as to guarantee gluten free baking success.

These shortbread cookies are exceptionally fun to make… and, of course, even more fun to eat. I really hope you’ll love them as much as I do.

Happy baking,

Signature of the author, Kat.

Overhead view of decorated heart-shaped Valentine's Day cookies.

If you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

 

Overhead view of decorated heart-shaped Valentine's Day cookies.
5 from 1 vote
Print

Valentine’s Day Heart Shortbread Cookies (Gluten Free)

These Valentine’s Day cookies are very easy to make, yet look and taste incredibly impressive. The gluten free shortbread cookies are perfectly buttery with a melt-in-the-mouth-texture and keep their shape beautifully in the oven without spreading. (And they don’t need to be chilled before baking!) The raspberry icing gives the cookies a wonderfully tart, refreshing berry flavour, and makes them look simply amazing.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Gluten Free
Prep Time 45 minutes
Bake/Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 57 minutes
Servings 24 cookies

Ingredients

For gluten free shortbread:

  • 150 g (1 ⅓ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 75 g (¼ cup + 2 tbsp) caster/superfine sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 255 g (2 cups + 2 tbsp) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour blend, which doesn't contain added xanthan gum. You can also mix your own blend with 50% finely ground white rice flour, 30% potato starch and 20% maize flour by weight.)
  • 60 g (½ cup) cornstarch
  • ¾ tsp xanthan gum (Omit if your GF flour blend already contains xanthan gum.)
  • ¼ tsp salt

For raspberry icing:

  • 120 g (1 cup) fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 240 g (2 cups) icing/powdered sugar
  • 2-4 tbsp lemon juice
  • sprinkles of choice for decorating

Instructions

For gluten free shortbread:

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and line a large baking sheet with baking/greaseproof paper.

    Tip: You will bake the cookies in several batches, so you can line 2-3 baking sheets if you have them on hand. Otherwise, just re-use the same baking sheet, but make sure to cool it completely before you place the next batch of unbaked cookies onto it.

  2. In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix together the softened butter, superfine/caster sugar and vanilla bean paste until combined. Don’t cream the butter – just stir it all together until you get a homogeneous mixture.

    Tip: You don't want to cream the butter and sugar together, as that aerates the mixture (that is, it incorporates air into it), which can cause the cookies to spread and lose shape in the oven.

  3. Sift together the gluten free flour blend, cornstarch, xanthan gum and salt, and add them to the butter-sugar mixture. Mix well until combined. Initially, you’ll get a VERY CRUMBLY dough – that's okay.

  4. Knead the dough by hand until it comes together in a ball – this might take up to 5 minutes, but the dough should come together eventually.

  5. Roll out the cookie dough between two sheets of baking/greaseproof paper to a thickness of about 5mm.

    Tip: Rolling out the cookie dough between two sheets of baking/greaseproof/parchment paper prevents it from cracking during rolling. It also eliminates the need for dusting your work surface with extra flour, as you don't want to incorporate more flour into the cookie dough.

  6. Once you’ve rolled out the dough to a thickness of about 5mm, cut out the cookies using a large heart-shaped cookie cutter, about 7.5cm/3 inches in diameter.

  7. Transfer the cookies onto the lined baking sheet, spacing them out slightly (leave about 1cm/½ inch of space between them, they don’t really spread out during baking).

    Tip: You can use a small offset spatula to lift the cut cookies off the baking paper. Be gentle with them as they're fairly fragile.

  8. Use a smaller heart-shaped cookie cutter about 3.8cm/1 ½ inches in diameter to cut out the middle of each cookie. You can use a fork to remove the middle part from each cookie (see the post for photos). Re-roll any scraps to make more cookies, you should get a total of 24-26 cookies.

    Tip: I recommend transferring the cookies onto the baking sheet first and only then cutting out the middle, so as to maintain the perfect shape of the cookies as much as possible. Transferring them when the centre is already cut out makes it easier to either destroy the nice heart shape or even to break the delicate cookie while you’re lifting it.)

  9. Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for 12-14 minutes until light golden brown.

  10. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

For raspberry icing:

  1. First, make the raspberry reduction:

    In a saucepan, cook the raspberries on medium-high heat until they have softened and released their juices.

    Pass the raspberry mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds and skin.

    Return the raspberry juices to the saucepan and cook further until they have thickened and become slightly viscous and syrupy.

    Remove from heat and allow to cool.

  2. Mix 2-4 tablespoons of the raspberry reduction with the icing/powdered sugar, depending on how intense you want the pink colour to be. Then, add the lemon juice, about 1 teaspoon at a time, until you get the correct icing consistency – the icing should be quite thick but still runny.

    Tip: Depending on the pink colour you want to achieve you can use more or less of the raspberry reduction (to get the correct icing consistency, add less or more lemon juice, respectively). Also, you can easily tweak the consistency of the icing by adding more icing/powdered sugar (to make it thicker) or lemon juice (to make it runnier).

Assembling the cookies:

  1. Dip the top of each cookie into the icing, allowing any excess to drip away.

  2. Place onto a wire rack and decorate with sprinkles while the icing is still wet to the touch.

  3. Allow the icing to dry out at room temperature for at least 30-45 minutes before serving.

Storage:

  1. The cookies keep well in an airtight container in a cool dry place for 1-2 weeks.

Pinterest image for Valentine’s Day Heart shortbread cookies. Pinterest image for Valentine’s Day Heart shortbread cookies. Pinterest image for Valentine’s Day Heart shortbread cookies. Pinterest image for Valentine’s Day Heart shortbread cookies.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

3 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day Heart Shortbread Cookies”