I’m not big on shortbread, but upon reading the ingredient list for a Rum Raisin Shortbread Recipe in Martha Stewart Living, I decided I wanted to make my own. Perhaps it was the confectioners sugar, currants and dark rum that motivated me; I love the flavor and depth that is added to baked goods when alcohol is added. Drizzling brandy in my homemade, vegan, cinnamon rolls, for example, turns them into “heaven on a plate” as one of my students once exclaimed, and I imagined that currants soaked in rum would do the same in this shortbread recipe.
In preparing these cookies, I realized that a distinguishing trait of shortbread is its saltiness and another one is its crumbly texture, which seems to come from the use of confectioners sugar rather than granulated sugar. I was also excited about the use of currants because I prefer their smaller size and more intense flavor over that of regular raisins. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to find currants though. I went to three different stores, including two Yes Organic Markets and a CVS, before finding some at the Harris Teeter nearest my home.
Veganizing this recipe was quite easy, since the only animal product or by-product was butter, for which I substituted Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, which worked like a charm. Other than this modification, I followed the recipe word for word.
Try it for yourself and let me know how it turns out or tell me more about your favorite kind of shortbread.
Rum Raisin Short Bread (reprinted from Martha Stewart Living with my personal notes in parentheses)
These cookies are studded with dried currants, which are tiny raisins made from Zante grapes. The currants must be soaked overnight, so you’ll need to plan your craving a day in advance.
Makes about 4 1/2 dozen
1/2 cup dark rum
1 cup dried currants
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks is my favorite butter substitute.)
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I love King Arthur’s All Purpose Flour .)
3/4 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon coarse salt (I used sea salt.)
1. Combine rum and currants. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons rum.
2. Beat butter, sugar, and orange zest with a mixer on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and reserved rum, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour, coconut, and salt, and beat for 3 minutes. Stir in currants by hand.
3. Form dough into 2 logs, each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter; wrap in parchment, and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 3 days.
4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove parchment. Slice logs into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, and space about 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment. Bake until pale golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool.