Making shortbread vegan poses a challenge because butter is one of the most important ingredients here. Unlike some recipes where butter usually provides mostly the fat and just a little of the flavor, in shortbread — which is made with just a handful of ingredients– it provides ALL of the flavor.
In my cardamom-pistachio shortbread, my almond shortbread cookies or my lemony shortbread, I usually use oil and shortening because the nuts and lemon provide enough deliciousness so the butter won’t be missed. But for just plain old Scottish Shortbread, which I adapted from the Joy of Cooking, I use vegan butter sticks.
Because these butter substitutes which are easily available now in supermarkets do such a great job of mimicking the flavor and texture of the real thing, no one would be able to tell that this shortbread is vegan– yes, made absolutely without harming an animal.
I also used 2 tbsp of shortening because I find it gives shortbread the perfect texture: flaky, crumbly, melt-in-the-mouth and simply delicious.
This one goes, of course, to It’s A Vegan World: British. We still have a good 10 days to go before the deadline, so hurry on all you fabulous cooks out there, and let me see how wonderfully creative you can get. I’m waiting!
(Makes 16 2-inch-square bars)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
8 tbsp vegan butter, like Earth Balance
2 tbsp trans fat-free vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Beat sugar, salt, vegan butter and shortening on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
Sift in the flour gradually into the butter-shortening mixture, mixing with a spatula. Stir together with the spatula until the dough comes together. If needed, sprinkle a few drops of ice-cold water so the dough holds together.
Grease an 8 X 8-inch baking dish.
Put the shortbread dough in it and press with your fingers into a smooth, even layer.
Using a fork, pierce holes into the shortbread dough in a decorative pattern.
Bake in a 300-degree oven for 45-50 minutes until the shortbread is pale golden in color and slightly dark at the edges.
Remove to a rack and let cool until it’s slightly warm. With a sharp knife, cut almost all the way through to form squares. At this point you can sprinkle the shortbread with 1-2 tsp sugar.
When completely cooled, break into bars and devour!