Chestnut & Vanilla Bean Shortbread

Sometimes, when I make up a new recipe, I think about what I could call my creation if I were like Jenna from the movie Waitress.

If you haven’t seen this movie yet, you should — it’s smart, quirky, sweet without being overly sappy, and all stirred up with a dash of dark humor (and it’s totally feminist, too). ♥

Anyways — the main character in the movie, Jenna, despite being a small-town waitress, just so happens to be a pie-making genius.

She can be a little cynical at times, and often to give her pies names that reflect her mood, like, “Naughty Pumpkin Pie” and “Pregnant, Miserable, Self-Pitying Loser Pie” and “Falling In Love Pie”.

It’s so honest and sincere! If I were to name these cookies in accordance with my mood, they would be: “I Wish My Eyes Would Stop Burning Cookies”.

Uh… yeah.

‘Cause between whatever is in the air because of the carpeting being ripped up in my building’s hallways, the chain-smoking neighbour who likes to sit outside my window all day, and my mounting fatigue, that’s what I’d call these cookies.

Well, not really. I don’t think anyone would want to eat “I Wish My Eyes Would Stop Burning Cookies”.

Not even if they are buttery, nutty, gluten-free delights!

Chestnut & Vanilla Bean [Gluten-Free] Shortbread

*recipe by Christine


  • 1 cup chestnut flour
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • seed scrapings of 1 vanilla bean pod
  • white sugar, for dusting


Sift the chestnut flour and arrowroot powder and a pinch of cinnamon together; if there are small clumps in the mixture, try to break them up as best you can.

In a separate bowl, cream the salted butter. Beat in the icing sugar, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds.

Work in the sifted chestnut flour and arrowroot mixture. Use a spatula to work all the stubborn clumps of chestnut flour into the batter — it can be done!

Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment or wax paper to a little over 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thick.

Carefully use a cookie cutter to press out shapes, taking breaks to chill the dough in the freezer for 10 minutes between re-rolls if needed.

Generously sprinkle with white sugar, then bake for 12 ~ 14 minutes, or until the bottom edges are well-browned.

Makes about 14 small cookies.

This is my first time making anything gluten-free, so I just went with the basic shortbread ratio (4:2:1 — flour:butter:sugar) and added a bit of arrowroot to help the cookies keep their structure when baked.

Chestnut flour and arrowroot can often be bought at health food stores.

If you live in Vancouver, then go to The Grainry in the Granville Island Public Market and ask for it.

Anyways, I’m very pleased with the results of this gluten-free experiment — this cookie is delicate and crumbly, just like shortbread should be, but has a rich, satisfyingly nutty flavour.

Perfect with a glass of milk! Yum!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 thoughts on “Chestnut & Vanilla Bean Shortbread

  1. These sounds great and I love Waitress too!

  2. A Tablespoon of Liz says:

    These look really good. Chestnut is defiantly a flavor I digg. I’ve never even heard of chestnut flour, I’ll have to keep an eye out for it!

    • Christine says:

      Chestnut flour is super awesome — unlike all-purpose flour, it naturally tastes sweet and nutty (even raw) and any baked goods made with chestnut flour take a lot longer to go stale (not sure why this is). The only draw back is that it doesn’t bind well, so you gotta add a little arrowroot or xanthan gum to it. If you ever try baking with chestnut flour, tell me how it works out. 🙂

  3. Mmmm. I love the chestnut idea. For some reason it gives me a warm feeling. I wonder where you get them? At Whole Foods or something?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: