When I started working on a recipe for shortbreads, I had in my mind that I wasn't even going to bother trying to make them healthy, because shortbreads are shortbreads. Sure, you can make them with almond meal and stevia and coconut oil, but they don't have that airy, buttery, sugary crunch that the people know and love. In effect, they are no longer shortbread, and naming them as such would surely lead only to disappointment and resentment.
I made my first few batches using a gluten free flour blend, loads of butter, and more powdered sugar than I would like to admit. Breaking news: the combination of butter and sugar will never not be delicious. However, after eating one pre-breakfast and ending up with a pervasive, all day headache (not being preachy fitspo but it was a terrible day) I decided to play devils advocate, and mess around with the dark world of healthier shortbreads.
After whipping up the first batch, using a medium amount of butter and a small amount of powdered sugar, I ate my words, along with extra shortbreads. They're not made of coconut oil, they're not fitspo, but they are pretty smack bang on with the original version, and my shortbread fiend of a Mother concurs, so that is pretty much all the proof I need. Of course, the next logical step to creating a healthier shortbread recipe was to smother them in melted chocolate and peanut butter. That part is optional, but let me tell you, it is absolutely divine.
1 cup almond meal
4-5 tablespoons potato flour, plus extra for rolling
75g butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. In a mixer or a bowl, cream the sugar and butter together, until it is become lighter in colour. Add in the maple syrup, vanilla bean paste and salt, and continue mixing until well combined, making sure you scrape down the sides from time to time.
3. Add the almond meal and potato flour, and mix until a ball of dough forms. If it still looks too sticky, add an extra tablespoon of potato flour at a time.
4. Once the ball has formed, pop it in the fridge for about 10 minutes to harden slightly.
5. Ensuring your working space is clean and dry, spread some potato flour across it and your rolling pin, and begin to roll out the shortbread, using more flour as you see fit.
6. Using whatever cutter you fancy (for the snickers shortbreads, a simple shape with a round centre is best) cut out your shortbreads, and place them onto a lined tray, leaving space between each shortbread to avoid creating one giant cookie.
7. Cook for ten minutes, and check to see if they're browned to your liking. They turn from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds, so keep your eyes on them.
8. Once cooked, remove from the baking tray and onto a cooling rack. If you're not making snickers ones, feel free to eat them at this point. If you are, allow them to cool completely.
200g dark chocolate
Jar of natural, chunky peanut butter (Ridiculously Delicious is my favourite)
1. Ensure the shortbreads are totally cooled.
2. Place a medium sized steel bowl over a pot of water on a high heat, ensuring the bowl doesn't touch the water. Place the chocolate and the butter in the steel bowl, and allow it to melt completely.
3. While this is happening, spread a layer of peanut butter on each shortbread (thickness is personal preference but don't go too far either way) and pop them on a plate in the freezer for a couple of minutes, so the peanut butter and chocolate don't melt together.
4. Remove the chocolate from the heat as soon as it's fully melted, and set it aside. Once you've pulled the pb covered shortbreads from the freezer (side note: how fitting is it that pb is an abbreviation both for peanut butter and personal best) get ready to dip.
5. I found the easiest way of dipping was to go peanut butter side first, and then turn the shortbread over and repeat. Make sure you lightly run your finger down the underside of the shortbread, to remove excessive chocolate covering (there is such a thing)
6. Repeat with all remaining shortbreads, and pop them back in the freezer to set.
7. I keep mine in the freezer, because, particularly in an Australian summer, I find their coolness refreshing. You could probably keep them in the fridge, but it's best to eat them fairly quickly if you do.