Thursday, December 3, 2015

Shortbread Cookies - vegan and kosher

While the book, The Holiday Kosher Baker, is all about baking foods for Jewish holidays, the recipes are just plain good. You don't need to make them for a holiday.

No one would point to the shortbread cookies that I made and say, "Kosher Holiday!" The cookies certainly could be used for a kosher holiday, but you could serve them pretty much any time.

Unlike many shortbread recipes, this one doesn't include butter - it uses margarine instead.

While I don't personally have issues with using dairy products, there are plenty of people who have to avoid dairy, so I like to have a few recipes designed for using margarine. Substituting margarine for butter doesn't always work as you'd expect, particularly in baking recipes.

I used cookie stamps to decorate these cookies, and I really like the result - both the decoration and the flavor of the cookies. I'm not going to admit how many of them I ate.

During baking, the cookies didn't spread a lot, and they held their shape and kept the designs that were embossed on top. That's really important if you're using cookie cutters or stamps - otherwise you can end up with strange blobs instead of distinct designs.

A bonus is that the recipe is really simple. There are only three ingredients, so if you happen to keep these on hand, you'd be ready to make these cookies pretty much any time.

However, they need some freezer time to firm up, so you do need to plan at least a little bit in advance.


You can make the dough well in advance and freeze it, so you'll be ready to bake emergency cookies when you need them. What? You don't have cookie emergencies? Well, then, you can bake just a few at a time, if that's what you want to do.

Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from The Holiday Kosher Baker by Paula Shoyer

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 cups plus 2 teaspoons all purpose flour (plus more as needed)
1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, cut into chunks

Note: this recipe uses a food processor to do the mixing, which makes it really easy. But I don't see any reason why you couldn't use a stand mixer or electric hand mixer instead. Just make sure you start on low speed so you don't send sugar and flour flying all over your kitchen.

Put the sugar and flour in your food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process for about 10 seconds to blend.

Add the margarine and process until it comes together as a dough.

Remove the dough from the food processor and divide it in half. You can flatten it to disk and wrap in plastic wrap, or place it in a zip-top bags and flatten the pieces to a square shape to fit the bag.

Freeze overnight, or you can leave the dough there several days, until you're in the mood to bake.

When you're ready to bake, heat the oven to 400 degrees and line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the freezer and let it thaw just until it's soft enough to roll.

Flour your work surface and the top of the dough and roll to 1/4 inch thick. The book suggests rolling the dough between sheets of parchment paper, but I had no problem rolling it without the parchment - do whatever works for you.

Check out my review of the cookie stamps here.
Cut with cookie cutters as desired. I cut mine into rounds and then used Nordicware Geo Cookie Stamps to press a design into each cookie.

Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned on the bottom and you can barely see browning on the edges.

Slide the parchment onto a rack to allow the cookies to cool.

Continue making cookies until all the dough is used.

I received the book from the publisher and the cookie stamps from Nordicware. Check out a review of the book here.