Shortbread cookies are comforting for their simplicity.
With only three key ingredients—flour, butter, and sugar—one can experiment from that starting point with added flavors.
I first found this recipe in the Mini Page of the Sunday newspaper when I was eight years old. It was simple enough for me to follow and make.
I remember licking my fingers clean and noticing how buttery the uncooked dough tasted. I shared the cookies with a pal when it was raining and we giggled, warming our little hearts.
These days, I alter the classic recipe to a vegan and gluten-free version, which I made for a monastic community on Valentine’s Day. I connect shortbread cookies with friendship and sharing. I hope this recipe will continue to bring warmth and good will in all weather and throughout time.
Makes two large heart cookies for approximately 50 people.
The recipe is simple, with a 3:2:1 ratio, respectively, of flour, butter, and sugar. I use gluten-free flour and non-dairy “butter.”
9 cups of Pamela’s All-Purpose gluten-free flour blend (brown rice flour, tapioca starch, white rice flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, arrowroot starch, guar gum, sweet rice flour, and rice bran).
6 cups of Earth Balance with olive oil, or another vegan “butter”
3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract (optional)
2 tablespoons salt (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees while preparing ingredients. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, add the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, and salt). Blend well. In a smaller bowl, blend vegan butter and vanilla extract. Add moist ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix well with clean hands. It will be dry and crumbly, but massaging it with hands will bring it together. If it is too dry, add a few drops of water at a time. If the dough is too wet, add flour, a little at a time. You should be able to form it into a ball, not too wet and muddy, but not too dry that it doesn’t hold.
Divide into two big balls. Put one on each baking tray. Sculpt it into a heart shape with hands. Pierce some breathing holes into it with a fork. This prevents bubbling and cracking, which makes it look prettier. With a sharp knife, cut diagonal lines into desired cookie dimensions. I cut mine into 2 inch x 3 inch rhombus-shape cookies.
Bake about 20-25 minutes, until edges become golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
Enjoy with coffee or tea, and share the love with friends.
Author: Stephanie Lee
Image: Author’s own; photochem_PA/Flickr
Editor: Nicole Cameron