Saturday, November 28, 2009

Easy Vegan Shortbread

That's right, easy. You didn't think it was possible, did you? Well, thanks to VeganYumYum's Lauren Ulm, it is possible.

And when I say easy, I mean easy. It really bothers me when a recipe is described as easy, but you need several bowls, a food processor, and baking pans to make it happen. For me, the amount of dishes left to do factors into the equation. This recipe is a one mixer bowl, one pan, 4-5 ingredient masterpiece.

Lauren's version is a lavender shortbread, which is lovely and all, and frankly, so classy it might just hold up in a tea party, but it doesn't really fly in November. It'd be too weird with all of the beta-carotene flavors going on everywhere else. Time to break out the almond extract.

I put almond extract into everything. Cookies, pancakes, soy yogurt, oatmeal, and now, shortbread.

To make the rounds into accessible (i.e.: not personal pan pizza sized) cookies, lightly pressing a spatula or knife into the baked product allows for clean breaking.
These are crispy, crumbly, and lightly buttery, and the recipe is easily adaptable to other flavors. On the plates above I have almond shortbread and vanilla bean shortbread.

Almond Shortbread
Makes about 6 4.5" rounds

1 cup Earth Balance, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour

1. Cream the Earth Balance, sugar, and almond extract in an electric mixer until soft and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes on medium high speed.
2. Mix in the flour by hand with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Do not overmix, just get everything combined nicely. It may be a little crumbly.
3. Divide the dough in half, form into flat rounds, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Divide each round into 3 parts and roll out to 1/4" thickness on parchment paper, forming into rounds of equal diameter.
5. Place the parchment paper with the shortbread on it on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.
6. Using a knife or spatula, lightly score the shortbread into quarters or sixths. Allow to cool.

These are great with tea (obviously), and with fruit spreads, like homemade apple butter.

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