Chocolate-Glazed Mocha Shortbread (Low Carb and Gluten Free)


It’s only just the end of October, so you might be wondering why this photo looks like it’s all gussied up for Christmas. I usually don’t start my holiday baking until the beginning of December, but I am submitting this recipe to Jeanine over at The Baking Beauties for a gluten free e-book of holiday recipes that she is compiling. This is a low carb, gluten free makeover of one of my all-time favourites and I am really excited to share it with you.

Back in our pre-marriage, child-free days in Arizona, my husband and I used to host an annual Christmas dessert/cocktail party. It became bigger and more elaborate every year, with increasing numbers of friends and coworkers in attendance, and me baking far more cookies, bars and cakes than anyone could possibly eat. Each year I tried out different recipes, but the Chocolate-Glazed Mocha Fans from Bon Appetit, December 1999, were always on the table, and they were always a hit. When thinking about holiday cookies that I might tackle for a low carb makeover, these were at the top of my list. If I could be successful in recreating these, I would have a very merry Christmas indeed!

My biggest challenge with this recipe was getting the texture right. Traditional shortbread has a rather dry, crumbly texture, a result of the unique interplay between the flour, fat and sugar. Since I have to remove the flour and the sugar from the equation, I wasn’t sure I could pull this off. Fortunately, one of the things that makes shortbread so crumbly is that the large amount of butter inhibits the formation of long gluten strands. Mine wasn’t going to have any gluten in it to begin with, so that was one thing going for me!

The Results: I honestly did not expect these to turn out as well as they did. At first, they seemed rather soft and cakey, so I pulled out a trick gleened from a Cook’s Illustrated shortbread recipe and continued to dry it out in a low heat oven. It worked like a charm! The flavour is much as I remember from the original recipe, a nice chocolately cookie with hint of coffee. I am sure in a blind taste test, I would probably be able to tell the flour and sugar-filled version from these gluten free ones, but it be a challenge to say which one is better. If anything, mine are a little less sweet, but I think that allows the mocha flavour to shine through a bit more. I am delighted with the results, and happy to know that I can have at least one of my favourite cookies this Christmas.

I will confess that my first attempt at the chocolate glaze was an utter failure. I am not quite sure why, but my chocolate siezed and I couldn’t recover it, no matter how hard I tried. I scrapped it altogether and started over with a different technique (no cream, just butter), and got a much better result.

Chocolate-Glazed Mocha Shortbread

Note: I recognize that many people who need or choose to go gluten free do not need to be low carb, so I am including instructions on using sugar instead of alternative sweeteners.

1 1/2 cups almond meal
1/4 cocoa powder
1/4 cup erythritol (or 3/4 cup white sugar)
2 tsp instant coffee granules
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cups butter, softened
1 egg
16 drops stevia extract (omit if using sugar)

Chocolate Glaze:
1 tbsp coconut oil or butter
2.5 oz unsweetened chocolate (or semi-sweet chocolate), chopped
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp powdered erythritol (omit if using semi-sweet chocolate)
1/2 tsp vanilla
8 drops stevia extract (omit if using semi-sweet chocolate)

For the shortbread, preheat oven to 325F and spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together almond meal, cocoa, erythritol or sugar, coffee, xanthan gum and cream of tartar.

In another bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and stevia extract until smooth. Beat in half of almond meal mixture until combined. Beat in remaining almond meal mixture until the dough begins to clump together.

Using a rubber spatula, spread dough in prepared pan. It will be very sticky and difficult to spread, so try to just get it to the edges of the pan. Then take a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap to cover the surface and press more evenly into pan using fingertips.

Bake until firm around edges and slightly soft and puffy in the center, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes. Gently remove pan sides. With a large sharp knife, cut into 16 wedges.

Gently remove wedges to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Reduce oven temperature to 200F and continue to bake shortbread wedges for another 25 minutes. Turn off oven and let shortbread continue to dry out for 1 hour. Do not open oven door, you do not want the heat to escape.

Remove from oven and let cool completely on pan.

For the glaze, melt coconut oil or butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in cocoa powder and erythritol until no clumps remain. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and stevia extract. Let cool until thickened but still pourable (I hurried this up by placing the pan in the refrigerator). Drizzle over cool shortbread on pan. Chill shortbread until chocolate is firm, about 20-30 minutes.

Serves 16. Each shortbread has a total of 8g of carbs, but only 4.25g if you subtract erythritol.

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  1. Pretend Chef says

    I'm excited about making these for my mom and sending her a surprise care package! These look so mouth watering. What a great holiday treat for those with special dietary needs to take into consideration. Thank you for this one so close to the holiday season. It really will be here in the blink of an eye!

  2. Sugar Free Low Carb says

    Super recipe! I've had the same bad result trying to make chocolate sauce with cream. I'm glad I'm not the only one. Sugar must react differently than alternative sweeteners.

  3. Susi says

    Your shortbread looks amazing! Again you did a wonderful job taking a classic and making it fit for your dietary needs. My sister has celiac so I'm sending this link to her and I know she will love it. Your pictures are so pretty as well!

  4. Karen says

    These are gorgeous. I love the drizzle of chocolate over the slices! I've never tried anything other than standard shortbread. Mocha shortbread sounds divine!

  5. Emily Z says

    Hi there, and thank you so much for stopping by my blog! It is nice to meet you. This shortbread looks utterly amazing! You did a wonderful job! Have a great weekend and a Happy Halloween!

  6. Medifast Coupon Codes says

    This such is Christmas in October! Your pictures alone have made me crave this, but now I am going to find myself doing everything I can to learn how to make this for our Christmas dinner this year.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe and drool worthy pictures.

  7. Jeanine says

    Oh goodie, goodie, goodie! What a great recipe! And those pics made me drool just a little. 😉
    Are you going to email this to me, or shall I copy & paste from here?

  8. Lauren Zabaneh says

    Carolyn, I've gotta say, I am in total awe of the things you create. I mean, it's really magical- how you transform traditional recipes into healthier versions. I am curious about that sweetener erythritol- what is that exactly? is it natural or a chemical? Is it easy to find? These just look amazing. I really love your blog.

  9. A Little Yumminess says

    how can something that looks so good be low-carb!! where do you live, you need to start sending me your low carb creations!

  10. Dawn says

    I was just lying awake a couple of nights ago wondering if I could low-carb shortbread. Thanks for doing the hard work for me! 😉 Baking them twice, like biscotti, was an inspired solution. Come to think of it, I'll be I could low-carb biscotti, too. Yum!

  11. Sophie says

    Waw, Carolyn!! This chocolate glazed mocha shortbread looks amazing & ooh my god,..heavenly too!

    MMMMMM,…divie & lovely styled food!

  12. Stella says

    Hey Carolyn, this looks delicious! I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas baking too, so I totally understand the jump here (smile)…
    By the way, I don't know if I've ever said this, but I love the way you give an honest synopsis of each of your recipes at the end of your post;)
    Happy Halloween!
    XO, Stella

  13. Winelady Cooks says

    Your photos are so deliciously inviting. They look so good — mocha just happens to be one of my favorite flavors.

    Thanks for sharing,

  14. Erin @ EKat's Kitchen says

    YUM! I can't stop looking at these pictures — your mocha shortbread looks absolutely delectable! My mouth is watering……mmmmmmmmm

  15. Tessie of Germany says

    These look soooo good I will be trying them this week as a possible add on to my Thanksgiving menu!Thanks!

  16. Foodiva says

    I am completely mesmerized by these pictures of your chocolate shortbread!OMG, I think I've been brainwashed into making them…. TODAY! Thanks for sharing the lovely recipe.

  17. Donna says

    I'm already mentally ready for Christmas, so seeing your pretty cake & the holly made my heart sing "fa la la la laaaaa" :)


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