gluten-free maple coconut shortbread bars

Shortbread, a buttery, crumbly type of unleavened biscuit, originated in Scotland perhaps as early as the 12th century, although some attribute its invention to Mary Queen of Scots in the 16th century. The name "shortbread" originated from the early-19th century sense of the word "short," meaning "easily crumbled." This is also where the word "shortening" comes from, referring to any fat used to create a short (as in crumbly) texture.

Shortbread was traditionally made from one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts oatmeal flour. Today it's more commonly made with white wheat flour, but I decided to try oat flour and liked it. However, nothing else about these bars is traditional: maple syrup stands in for the sugar, coconut oil for the butter, and I couldn't resist adding a chewy maple-coconut-pecan topping.

Total time: 40 minutes
Makes 18-24 bars

2 cups (200g) gluten-free oats, finely ground in a coffee grinder or food processor
1/4 cup (50g) arrowroot powder (or substitute cornstarch)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup coconut oil, melted

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup (50g) pecans, toasted at 350F for 6-7 minutes then finely chopped
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the over to 350F. Grease a 11" x 7" (28 x 18 cm) or similar-sized baking pan and line with parchment paper.

Whisk together the oat flour, arrowroot, and salt. Whisk together the maple syrup and coconut oil and then add to the dry ingredients, stirring for 2-3 minutes. Pour into the pan and spread evenly. Bake about 14-15 minutes, just until firm in the center.

While the shortbread is cooking, combine the ingredients for the topping in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer for 7-8 minutes until the coconut flakes have absorbed all the liquid. Remove from heat and cover. When the shortbread is done, remove from the oven and spread the coconut mixture evenly over the top. Bake another 12-14 minutes, until well browned around the edges.

Remove from the oven, let cool, then cut into rectangles or triangles with a sharp knife. It may take several hours to cool completely, but if you cut it while still warm you may find yourself with a very tasty, crumbly mess.


  1. these are so delicious and I love the historic details!

  2. Gauri Radha गौरी राधाFebruary 18, 2011 at 1:04 AM


  3. These are always a hit for all types of eaters, and it seems that there is always someone going gluten free in any group. I made these recently for a potluck, and they were a big hit. I double the topping recipe because it is my favorite part, and I just can't get enough. Thanks for a great recipe!