I had been wanting to make shortbread for a long time, but for me it was a battle of wills- shortbread is traditionally so full of butter and refined sugars and flours and... hmmm not a lot else! It sat at the back of my mind for a while until enough was enough and I was determined to find a way to create a tender crunchy, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread style cookie. I think I have succeeded here! I may well need to make a few more batches to really 'test' out the recipe properly... that will keep the boy happy as he claims these cookies to be the best so far!
The main ingredients I subbed were coconut butter for the traditional butter (any mild flavoured oils would also work well) and a mix of agave, stevia and rapadura (raw evaporated cane juice) for the refined sugar. It is worth noting here that the runnier the oil/butter is the easier it is to use as otherwise it can become more difficult to create a dough if the coconut butter is too solid- I had a few troubles here initially so I think it is very much down to getting a nice runny butter consistency and then mixing the ingredients together without delay!
I have been going a bit crazy recently trying to come with a way to make crunchy cookies without any (or much) granulated sugar. Typically granulated cane sugar provides the structure that creates the crisp crunch and chewy texture of cookies. Many of my earlier cookie experiments with agave just didn't have this elusive crunch! I'm still working on it and have a few more ideas up my sleeve. The recipe for the shortbread uses part granulated sugar but also supplements some of the flour for polenta which helps bring back the crunch, the coconut butter also creates the delicate texture.
Recipe: Chocolate shortbread
(makes approx. 20)
- 200g coconut butter (homemade from coconut flakes- could use coconut oil also)
- 40g agave
- 40g rapadura (or other unrefined granulated sugar)
- ¼ tsp pure stevia
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 40g ground almonds
- 40g ready to cook polenta
- 50g cocoa powder
- 150g wholemeal spelt flour
- 70g arrowroot
Whisk melted coconut butter with sugars and stevia and vanilla in a large bowl for a couple of minutes. Mix dry ingredients together and slowly add to the wet ingredients until a thick but pliable dough is formed. Roll into a cylinder approx. 6cm diameter and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes (may not be necessary if stable enough). Cut into 1cm thick rounds (nice if they end up a bit ‘squashed’ circle looking). Lay on parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake for approx. 15 mins at 180C.
This is another versatile recipe and you could add other spices, chocolate chips, nuts or dried fruit to the mixture. I made a second batch with coarsely ground cranberries and cacao chunks. You could also reduce the cocoa powder slightly and add up to 1 tsp chocolate extract to make the cookie a richer chocolate taste if needed (however I haven’t yet tried doing this).