Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Vegan Pecan Shortbread Cookies


My boyfriend texted me from work last week to notify me that October is national cookie month. He thought Connoisseurus Veg should know. He was right.I can always use an excuse to bake some cookies. I don't make cookies that often, and when I do I usually send them to work with him, not only to share the cookie love, but also to get them out of the house. Upon pondering what type of cookies to make on this particular occasion, I realized I'd been neglecting my favorite cookie monster: my dad.

Dad's favorite while I was growing up was always Pecan Sandies, and since pecan shortbread is an area of baking I've yet to explore on this blog, I decided I'd found the perfect solution. This also gave me a great opportunity to try out this recipe for coconut oil based vegan butter. I'd seen it a bunch of times on Pinterest and had been itching to incorporate it into some baking. I finally got around to making it a few weeks ago, but left it sitting in the freezer awaiting just the right vegan butter need.

Homemade Vegan Butter

I have a few thoughts on the butter itself. First, it's awesome! It was really easy to make. The only unusual ingredients were xanthan gum and lecithin,  both of which were easily obtained through the magic of Amazon. I immediately decided I loved the taste. This does not taste like margarine: "vegan butter" is a much more accurate name. It has that subtle, rich buttery taste, with just a hint of coconut. I'd seriously put this on my toast (and probably will). It even looks more like butter, having a milky-white color and smooth consistency.

Recognizing that you guys might not be up for making your own vegan butter, I tried two versions of this cookie recipe. One using store bought vegan margarine and another using the homemade butter. Both versions produced some delicious cookies, but the butter version was the winner, hands down. I noted the following:
  1. The butter was easier to work with. It mixed up with the sugar quicker and more smoothly than the margarine.
  2. The cookie dough made with the butter was way tastier. (Yes, of course I tasted the dough.)
  3. The butter batch produced prettier cookies. They had a nicer, more even color, and less, ummm, greasy appearance to them.
  4. The butter batch cooked more evenly. The bottoms were a nice, even golden brown, whereas the margarine cookies got a little darker around the edges than I would have liked.
  5. Most importantly: the butter cookies tasted better. I thought so right away, but I had to make sure I wasn't being biased. So I called my boyfriend into the room and without telling him what was up, asked him to try one of each cookie and comment. His observation was that the butter version was "demonstrably, remarkably and clearly better."

There you have it. Now, both versions were great. Don't be discouraged if you don't feel like making the butter, . Either way you will have a delicious,but you totally won't regret it if you do. Either way, you will have delicious, homemade, vegan shortbread. Happy cookie month!


Vegan Pecan Shortbread Cookies


Makes about 3 dozen cookies

1 cup vegan margarine or homemade vegan butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans

Blend butter and sugar. You can use a mixer here, but this shouldn't be necessary if your butter is actually at room temperature. Add vanilla and salt, then flour and cinnamon. Mix until completely blended. Add pecans. Roll your dough into one or two logs. I ended up with two 9 inch long logs. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for thirty minutes.


Preheat oven to 350. Spray or line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Carefully slice your dough into about 1/4 inch slices and distribute evenly on baking sheets. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit before removing from baking sheets.


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