Vegan MoFo Day 1 – Coconut Shortbread

1 10 2012

Happy National Homemade Cookie Day!

I made cookies!  And to keep things interesting, I didn’t make any of my normal cookies to celebrate National Homemade Cookie Day. No peanut butter or oatmeal raisin, and nothing from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar… all of which would have been wonderful choices and which I know would have turned out delicious. Instead I decided to kill two birds with one stone: make a new recipe, and alter it to use up a pantry ingredient that was embarrassingly expired (as in, “Best By January 2012” expired).

So I made shortbread for the very first time. And I had a whole jar of pretty expensive raw coconut butter (basically coconut oil with bits of coconut flesh finely ground up in it) that was technically expired as of January but still smelled and looked fine. It was like fate… I needed two cups of butter for the recipe… the jar of coconut butter had exactly two cups in it! Here’s the recipe I started with:

Scottish Shortbread

  • 2 C butter
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1-4.5 C all-purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together. Add 3 to 3-3/4 cups of flour and mix in. Knead for 5 minutes until a soft dough forms, adding more flour as necessary.

Roll out to 1/2″ thickness and cut into 1″ by 3″ rectangles. Poke holes with the tines of a fork and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet, in a preheated 325 degree oven, for 20-25 minutes.

 

Obviously I substituted raw coconut butter for the dairy butter called for in the original recipe.  Sounds pretty easy, right? It probably is if you have half a clue what you’re doing. The first problem I ran into was that after three cups of flour my coconut butter/sugar/flour was basically crumbly and could in no way be considered a soft dough. I could have built a sand castle out of it, it was so crumbly. It looked like this:

 

But the upside was that my whole kitchen smelled like coconut.

I added a bit more fat to my crumbles (about 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance, since I was out of coconut oil) and a bit of water, and got it a tiny bit more cohesive than this.  Not much, but a tiny bit.  To be honest I was afraid to push it too far, and some shortbread recipes describe a crumblier dough than the recipe I was using so I wasn’t completely sure where to draw the line.   Since there was no way I was going to be able to roll this out and cut it into strips, I went ahead and smooshed it into the bottom of my biggest springform pan. I discovered that I also lack spatial awareness, because instead of being 1/2″ thick, it turned out that I made it much closer to 1″ thick, which I noticed later when I unsprung the pan sides and set the shortbread free.

So I tossed up my hands and let the cooking gods have their way with the shortbread while we ate dinner. My better half cooked… we had a lovely thrown-together dry curry with potatoes, chickpeas, corn, pattypan squash, onions, and tofu while my shortbread baked away in the oven. I ended up adding an extra 20 minutes to the cooking time to get it golden, probably because, unknown to me at the time, it was two or three times thicker than it was supposed to be. While we were eating dinner I was still mulling over why my shortbread got so crumbly with over a cup less flour than the recipe called for. In hindsight, I think the raw coconut butter (because of all the coconut solids in it) wasn’t a pure fat like regular unrefined coconut oil or Earth Balance would have been. It was probably 2/3-3/4 oil and 1/4-1/3 solids, which may be why my flour ratio was so far off and my dough never came together.

But our story hasn’t ended yet! I took the shortbread out of the oven at about the 45 minute mark, and it was nice and toasty golden on top. It also smelled really good… very much a cross between a toasty coconut smell and a buttery crumbly baking smell. Once it cooled enough to cut, it looked like this:

See what I mean about it being ridiculously thick? It’s not a cookie, it’s practically a pie!

(Apologies for the bad photo… I wasn’t able to take it in a well-lit room.  It was actually much more appetizing looking than this, which looks suspiciously like dry-fried tofu instead of a cookie.)

So I let the ginormous monster coconut shortbread cool and tasted it.  I wasn’t surprised to discover it was a bit dry.  Okay, way dry.  Way, way, way dry.  But it did hold together better than I thought it would.  And the taste?  Really, really good!  Toasty and coconutty with a touch of the richness from the brown sugar.  I will probably need 700 cups of tea to get through this monster dry shortbread (10″ diameter by 1″-ish deep is a lot of shortbread!), but I think I will actually eat it.  And I will definitely revisit the recipe in the future.  I’ll probably try using unrefined coconut oil rather than the raw coconut butter, partially because the coconut butter is pretty expensive and partially to get back on the right track with my fat to flour ratio.  But if I can manage this flavor with real shortbread texture, I’ll be one happy vegan.

And here is a bonus picture, because even if you didn’t know it you need a photo of my cat  This is Merry, mowing down on her wheatgrass while we ate dinner.

Happy MoFo everyone!  I’ll be back tomorrow to celebrate… National Fried Scallops Day!

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8 responses

1 10 2012
panda cookie

vegan shortbread takes over your plate!

2 10 2012
zensquiggle

And my tummy! I just had a wedge for breakfast and am regretting it… too big! (but sooo good!_

1 10 2012
Bekki

I know I should be commenting on food, it being Mofo and all, but how can I with such a beautiful kitty distracting me?

2 10 2012
zensquiggle

She is a bit of a distraction, isn’t she? Merry is our rescue Bengal. She’s so beautiful, and one of the most unique and intelligent cats I’ve ever spent time with. She keeps us on our toes!

1 10 2012
Erin

Shortbread is one of my favourite things to make! And I love coconut oil in cookies- I think it makes them taste fancier than regular cookies. I think I might start celebrating homemade cookie day every year!

1 10 2012
Fanny

Fun theme! I’m looking forward to follow your adventures through food holidays! On Thursday, it’s the cinnamon roll day here in Sweden!

2 10 2012
VeganistaMama

Adding coconut butter to my shopping list, because I only have a half of a jar, and I don’t feel like making a half batch. Thanks for sharing! And great start on the blog!

3 10 2012
zensquiggle

Good luck! Watch out for adding too much flour, and defniitely don’t make yours an inch thick like mine! I just ate another piece and the flavor is really, really good. I hope it turns out for you!

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