Sand Tart Recipe (with gluten free, egg free, dairy free option)

by Amy on 12/22/2010


Gluten Free Sand Tarts- almond shortbread
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Sand Tarts are an almond shortbread-style cookie- they are a family favorite and a cherished tradition. When I first found out that I couldn’t eat gluten/wheat anymore, a couple of weeks before Christmas no less,  I thought I’d never have them again.

After playing around with the recipe however, the tweaked version is as delicious if not more delicious than the original!  These are my favorite cookies, delicately flavored with rich butter and almond extract, never too sweet, and a real crowd-pleaser. They go great with homemade egg nog, wassail, a hot toddy, tea or coffee. (Try Teeccino or Dandy Blend for an herb-based coffee substitute)

The recipe could be made strictly with sprouted brown rice flour, but the addition of almond meal and coconut flour lower the carb count significantly.  Don’t have coconut flour? Use just almond meal and brown rice flour. It’s very forgiving! It’s already egg-free and could be dairy-free if you subbed coconut oil for the butter.

The original carb count was approx 13 grams PER cookie….it’s now about 3 grams. Now, I don’t routinely count calories, carbs or other macronutrients, but when it comes to the holidays and baking, I like to occasionally know what I’m really consuming.  In addition to making these gluten-free (of course, you can still use wheat flour), changes were made to make the recipe more nutrient-dense and more easily digestible, like using sprouted flour, soaked/dehydrated nuts and healthier sugars.

You roll the cookies into crescents and balls (like half and full moons), so the recipe makes about three dozen cookies, depending upon the sizes you roll. I almost always double the recipe as the cookies go fast and you’ll want to share them. Package some to give to friends, neighbors and co-workers.

Gluten Free Sand Tarts
by Amy Love, Real Food Whole Health

3/4 cup (12 TBL) organic butter, softened (from grassfed cows preferred)
3 TBL unrefined sugar (sucanat, rapadura, palm sugar, or even maple syrup)
1- 1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla extract (not artificial)
1 TBL organic almond extract (not artificial)
2 cups flour of choice (I use 1- 3/4 c. blanched almond flour, 1/4 c. sprouted brown rice flour OR 1/4 c. coconut flour)
1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
2 cup finely chopped pecans (preferably soaked/dehydrated)
About 1/4 cup  organic powdered/confectioners’ sugar for rolling- it’s just a dusting

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter, add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy
Add extracts, mix well.
Slowly add flour and salt to creamed mixture.
Fold in pecans.
Using your hands, shape into crescent moons and round balls.
Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet or baking stone.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until slightly browned.
Let cookies cool on baking sheet- they will be crumbly while hot.
When almost completely cooled, roll lightly in powdered sugar. Be careful not to crumble/break them, though when cool they aren’t as fast to break as while hot.


TIP: For a smoother sugar, simply throw the sucanat, rapadura or palm sugar in a coffee grinder or food processor. You can use this in the recipe, and also do the same thing for “powdered” sugar to roll the cookies in.



Lisa @ Real Food Digest December 22, 2010 at 6:12 pm

This looks so yummy – I’ve been meaning to experiment with adding rice four to my almond flour shortbread cookies – you just saved me some time!
Will probably try this out this week.


Amy December 22, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Hey Lisa- thanks for stopping by! Absolutely- they are SO good- we just LOVE them. I’ve wanted to try making them with ALL almond flour, so I guess we’ll both be experimenting this week, lol. Let me know how you like them….Happy Holidays!


Kate Garland December 22, 2010 at 6:53 pm

This is great. Is the dough pliable enough that you could roll it out and use cookie cutters to make shapes?


Amy December 22, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Hey Kate, thanks for your comment- I haven’t tried rolling it out, but I bet it might work. It’s a moist dough, that when you roll it into balls, it sticks together quite nicely. Please let me know if you try this and how it works- I’ve never thought about doing that! Worse case, you end up with crescents and balls anyway, lol!


Kathy Johnson December 22, 2010 at 8:05 pm

I grew up having Greek cookies called kourabiedes at Christmas. Now that I eat low carb, I haven’t really managed to convert my family recipe. This should help considerably as the only differences I can see is that mine call for ouzo and that each cookie is studded with a clove. Thanks!


Amy December 22, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Hey Kathy- Thanks so much for stopping by our blog. The addition of the clove sounds really good! I might even add some orange zest to the recipe and try with cloves. I was talking to my mom about making this recipe nut-free and we decided dried fruit would be a good addition as well. Just thinking out loud… I hope this turns out for you- stop back by sometime and let me know!


Lisa December 22, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Hi! I linked over from Real Food Wednesday. Thanks for sharing this recipe. They look wonderful and I bet my kids would love them!


Amy December 22, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Hey Lisa! Thanks for the comment- I bet the kids would love them and they can have a lot of fun rolling the crescents and balls- I always enjoyed that when I was little. It’s a super quick recipe too- I just throw everything in the KitchenAid and it’s together fast. The dough is also tasty before it’s cooked and I know how kiddos like to “taste” it in the dough-stage. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!!


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