Kook-Kwee Inspired Macadamia and Coconut Shortbread (gluten-free and vegan)

Kook-Kwee Inspired Cococnut Macadamia Nut Shortbread (gluten-free and vegan)This will be the last of my Hawaii food nostalgia posts for a while.  Cook-Kwees Maui cookie company produce wildly popular crisp shortbread cookies.  My favourite variety includes coconut and macadamia nuts.  I consumed a truly terrifying quantity of these cookies as a child.  They were ubiquitous in gift baskets and no meeting that provided coffee was without them.  Waiting for your mom to get off work and drive you home after school?  No problem, sit in the staff room at her job and eat Cook-Kwees while you do your homework.

I have been missing these cookies, and over the holidays on Maui my mother and I experimented with making a gluten-free version.  I’ve mentioned this before, but rice flour has been the secret ingredient for making crisp shortbread since way before anyone wondered if wheat flour was making them sick.  My college pal Marya made one such family recipe for shortbread every Christmas and it was (and still is) the best shortbread I’ve ever tasted.  So I was pretty confident that we could make a gluten-free coconut and macadamia nut shortbread that would take care of my craving

My mom and I made one batch of shortbread with butter for me, and one batch with coconut oil for my mum, since she can’t eat dairy.  The coconut oil ones were better!  They were crisper and of course they had a more intense coconut flavour.

If you cannot find macadamia nuts (or cannot bring yourself to spend so much money) blanched almonds are delicious in their place!


  • 1 cup macadamia nuts, divided in half
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup confectioner sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown or white rice flour
  • 3 Tablespoons potato starch
  • 2 Tablespoon tapioca flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  1. In a food processor or blender, pulse 1/2 cup of the  macadamia nuts and granulated sugar until coarsely ground.  Add the rice flour and continue processing until it all has a fine texture.
  2. In another, larger bowl, whisk together the confectioners sugar, potato starch, tapioca starch, baking powder, salt, ground nut mixture and coconut. Add the coconut oil, beating until just combined. Knead with your hands until the dough comes together.
  3. Divide the dough into fifteen evenly sized lumps.  Roll each lump into a smooth ball, placing them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet as you work.  Gently press a macadamia nut into each balls so that it flattens a bit into a plump disk. Refrigerate for one hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  5. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, or until pale golden.  Let them cool before eating them, for the full crispy effect!


11 Comments Add yours

  1. theveganmuffinwoman says:

    These are awesome!

    1. Thanks! I am pretty pleased with them. I’m also having a hard time not eating them all at once! Maybe I should put them in a tin rather than in a jar.

  2. Glenda says:

    Mona and I are going to make the almond version of these while she is here. Yum!!

    1. Oh boy baking with Mona. You are in the happy place!

  3. Mona says:

    These looks so good. We are going to make them with almonds and coconut oil. If they are pretty we will take a picture.

    1. Yay! Let me know how they turn out!

  4. aspoonfulofnature says:

    these look amazing 🙂


  5. MacBryan Green says:

    !! Saveur nomination submitted (Best Writing, Best Baking & Desserts, Most Delicious Food) along with this comment: “The recipes (with great photos) are a joy, but in addition there are often charming stories of everyday life as well as of long-ago or far-away (and more great photos).” ~~~~ Please publish a heads-up once the April voting begins; regretfully, I know that my memory circuits will drop that detail. L&H to you & yours.

    1. Thank you so much!!!! I love that you read my blog.

  6. Mona says:

    We made them and they are so good. Happy Birthday Super Woman!

  7. Glenda says:

    Making these for Christmas Eve, with Mac nuts!

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