These might be the easiest cookie recipe ever – after, of course, the Oatie Biscuits recipe.
You mix magarine and sugar and vanilla together in a bowl, pour in some flour and (maybe) a bit of cornstarch – shove the whole thing into some little tartlet tins, bake for 30 minutes or so, and poof! You have delicious AF shortbread.
This is a very basic recipe, variations of which can be found in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes, and numerous websites. If you look at it, you’ll see it’s basically the same idea as a pie crust (veggie marg and flour), with some sugar and flavouring added – and a bit of cornstarch to puff it up a bit.
You can even decorate these with Royal Icing. I know this is traditionally used with Sugar Cookies, but decorating Shortbread Cookies with it is just as cool and just as delicious.
This recipe is fun because it’s not only easy to make, it’s also really easy to play around with.
You can use granulated sugar for a rougher texture – or caster (fine) sugar for a more delicate biscuit.
You can decide to sift or not sift your flour, to give a rougher or more delicate texture.
You can add flavours or take them away.
And you can either add cornflour/cornstarch to give your shortbread a softer texture, or take some (or all) of the cornflour/cornstarch away for a crisper, dense, traditional shortbread.
And how about shapes? It’s up to you – put this into a loaf pan and slice up, or press into tartlet tins for pretty little pie-shaped cookies. You can roll them into logs and refrigerate for an hour or so and then slice into circles. You can even roll out the dough and use cutters for whatever shape you’d like. This recipe is really easy and really delicious. What could be better?
Shortbread biscuit cookies
1 cup dairy free margarine
1/2 cup sugar + more for sprinkling
1 to 2 tsps. vanilla. (Here you can play around a bit. My favourite: 2 tsp. lemon juice + a teaspoos or so of grated lemon rind. But you can try almond, mint, rosewater, lavender – anything, really. It’s whatever you fancy, really. Just don’t add more than 2tsp liquid flavouring or the dough won’t be dry enough.)
2 cups of flour – all purpose or general white flour work well here
1/4 cup cornflour/cornstarch*
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees – Gasmark 5
Lightly oil some tarlet tins, or a loaf pan, or a brownie pan, or a baking sheet – depending on what kind of shortbread you’d like to make.
Mix margarine and sugar together with a hand mixer until it’s creamy and lovely looking;
Add in your flavouring
In separate bowl, mix together flour and cornstarch*;
Blend flour mixture into margarine/sugar mixture a bit at a time. It will be VERY crumbly when you’ve got it all in there, but don’t worry – this is how it’s supposed to be.
Push your mix into your tin or pan of choice, OR press into a ball until you can roll it up in logs to wrap in cling film and refrigerate, or just roll out flat and cut with your favourite cutters**;
I like to make some marks on the top with a thin knife. Lines or crosses or whatever suits your fancy. I like repeated lines.
Bake in the centre of your oven for approximately 30 minutes, give or take. For tins or pans, check after 25 minutes (but expect another 5 at least). For cut shapes, check after 20 minutes. You will know these lovely treats are done when the edges turn golden-ish brown.
Sprinkle some sugar on the top right out of the oven. OR, you can let cool completely and frost if you’d like to, the same way you might do with a sugar cookie.
If you’re baking into a loaf for slices, let the pan cool for about 10-15 minutes and then – while still in the loaf pan – run a very thin knife through to make the slices you’d like to have. After these cool another hour, you can pop them out of the pan and the slices should come apart fairly easily.
*Note about cornflour/cornstarch: Some recipes call for a bit more (up to 1/3 a cup) and some call for no cornflour/cornstarch at all. Here’s how to decide – the more of this you add, the puffier your cookies will be. If you add none, it is very dense and not soft – think sweetened pie crust (which again, is basically what this is). If you add 1/3 cup cornflour/starch, your shortbread will have a bit more air to them and will be a softer shortbread cookie biscuit.
Note that if you take out cornflour/cornstarch – add the equivalent amount of flour. (For example if you use no cornflour/starch, then use 2 and 1/4 cups flour.) BUT if you increase to 1/3 cup cornflour/starch, it’s OK to leave the flour at 2 cups for this recipe.
** Note about rolling this dough: If you want to roll into logs for refrigerator cookies – or if you want to roll and cut into shapes – then you need to mix like mad and get past the crumbly bits stage. When it seems as though your dough will never be more than crumbly little bits, just buckle down and keep the mixer going. It will eventually pull together into a dough ball that you can roll out and cut shapes out of. I know it seems like it takes forever, but trust me – it will happen.