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Vegan shortbread is a type of dessert cookie made to mimic traditional shortbread cookies. In traditional recipes, shortbread requires a great deal of butter and relies upon it for one of the primary flavors in the cookie. In vegan recipes, butter alternatives must be used instead of real butter because vegans do not eat any products that are made with animal products. The other ingredients in vegan shortbread are flour, salt, and sugar, and the cookies may be dipped in chocolate or other toppings.
The only difference between vegan shortbread and regular shortbread is that vegan shortbread is made without butter. Butter is made by vigorously mixing cream or milk until the milk solids and buttermilk separate. Vegan butter is made from plant-based oils, such as soy, corn, or coconut, which are mixed with starches and gums in order to keep them solid at room temperature. Though some margarines are vegan, margarine cannot be used as an alternative to butter when baking shortbread because it will not give cookies the correct texture.
In order to make vegan shortbread, sugar, flour, vegan butter and salt need to be thoroughly combined. In most cases, combining one part sugar to two parts vegan butter to four parts flour along with a pinch of salt is sufficient to make the dough. These ingredients should be combined with an electric mixer until they form a ball of dough and then refrigerated for a few hours before they are rolled out into cookies.
After the dough is made, the next step in making vegan shortbread is to roll out the dough. Once it is about a half inch thick (about 1.3 centimeters) cookie cutters can be used to create a variety of different shapes. Traditionally, shortbread cookies are made into squares and rectangles, but there is no reason that cooks must shape vegan shortbread in this way. The shortbread should be baked for about 20 minutes, until the edges are golden and crispy but not dark brown.
Once vegan shortbread has been baked, it can be eaten as is or with toppings. If sugar is being added, it should be sprinkled onto the shortbread as soon as it is taken out of the oven so that it will stick to the cookies. Cool cookies can be dipped in melted vegan chocolate and then allowed to cool to form chocolate vegan shortbread cookies.