The holidays just wouldn't be the same without a few things: The Charlie Brown Special, Boney M's LP, and shortbread! This year, I knew that I had to make some, but as always, I wanted to see what I could do to make it healthier. The first batch I made was a vegan, coconut/rice flour, cranberry -orange shortbread. Sounds good right? And it was, in theory, but not so much in reality... The mixture was bitter and dry and managed to suck out all the moisture that was in your mouth. It was pretty terrible. For a couple of days, I was a little disenchanted with my cookie disaster, but then inspiration hit!
My first attempt got me thinking that maybe I was messing too much with the characters that make shortbread, shortbread. Its also made me think about my grandmothers and what they would have done to the classic cookie if they were making it for me. And then it hit me, OATS! Oats are gluten free (if certified), naturally sweet (so I can use less sugar), and Scottish (like shortbread). Total success!
For this recipe, I left the shortbread as simple and as traditional as possible. This includes not using any flavoring like vanilla, but feel free to use some if desired. While I wouldn't go as far as to say this is a "healthy" recipe, it is definitely healthier than typical shortbread. And remember, a little piece goes a long way, so don't be too put off by the ingredients.
Recipe: (makes 16 large cookies) Print it Here
3 Cups Finely ground oat flour (I used a gluten free store bought brand)
1 Cup Vegan Butter substitute*, or a high quality organic butter (I used butter as my family requested it)
½ Cup corn starch (organic if possible)
½ Coconut Sugar (ground in a blender until fine)
A pinch of sea salt
Begin by grinding the coconut sugar in a blender until it becomes fine, almost the consistency of icing sugar. Cream the margarine/ butter, salt, and sugar together until well blended. In a separate bowl mix the corn starch with the oat flour until combined. Mix the dry ingredients into the margarine/butter mixture until combined.Shape the dough into a 10 by 20 cm (4 by 8 inch) rectangle and refrigerate until firm.
Once the dough is chilled, cut it into half to make two squares. Cut each square in half and each half into 4 - making 16 rectangles total. Place cookies on a parchment lined tray. If you want, you can use the tip of a fork to lightly dock the tops of the cookies. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 150 C (300 F), or until the bottoms are slightly golden. Cool on pan for a few minutes before placing on rack to cool. These cookies will last several weeks in a air proof container.
* I have tried to make similar cookies with coconut oil, but didn't have much luck - they ended up greasy and granular. You might want to look for a vegan butter/margarine especially meant for baking, like a Earth balance brand for example.