Saturday, March 10, 2007

Vegan Lingonberry Shortbread Bars

We had a beach night at our house last night last Saturday night a week ago to welcome home two from our group who had been away for some time. I, of course, had to play host so I could show off the kitchen (who cares if the grout isn't in yet?) and the new walls.

But this isn't about beach night, wonderful as it was.

This is about the fact that the house had to be cleaned and put in order.

Which it was.

Allowing me to cook again.

Which I did.

(Insert big sigh of relief here.)

And today sunday last Sunday I celebrated my kitchen being returned to me - albeit groutless, but that's coming - by making up a batch of vegan shortbread bars topped with a layer of lingonberry preserves, then sprinkled with another layer of oat-almond-cinnamon-brown sugar crumble. I'd been noodling on devising this recipe for a vegan-friendly shortbread for several days.

Many, many moons ago when I had a house full of daycare children, I used to make shortbread bars (the kind with real butter and pure white sugar) as a special treat. It's been years since I've thought of them and I wasn't sure of the proportions, but once I got started, just like riding a bike, it all came back to me.

These were pretty good and Jeffrey's been eating them for the past few days Jeffrey really enjoyed them but see my Cook's Notes for what I would do differently if I were to make them again.

Vegan Lingonberry Shortbread Bars
Christine's original recipe
Ingredients:
For the shortbread:
1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (room temperature)
1 cup Splenda Granular
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup finely ground almonds (Also called almond flour. I get mine at Trader Joe's, but you can make your own)

For the topping:
4 tablespoons lingonberry preserves
1/2 cup rolled oats (I used Quaker)
1/2 cup slivered, toasted almonds, finely chopped
1/4 cup Splenda-Brown Sugar Blend
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Stick, cut into small pieces and kept cold
Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
To make the topping, combine the oats, finely chopped almonds, Splenda-Brown Sugar blend and cinnamon in a bowl and stir well to blend.
Add the pieces of the 3 tablespoons Earth Balance and blend them into the oat mixture. Using your fingers, pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until they're the size of lima beans (see photo; this is hard to explain.) Set aside.

To make the shortbread, place the 1 cup Earth Balance and the Splenda granular in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
Add the flour, salt and ground almonds and continue to beat on low to medium until the mixture just begins to hold together. It will go from rather sandy to creamy very quickly so watch the bowl. This may take several minutes, depending on your mixer.

Bring the mass together with your fingers and place in an ungreased 8x8 baking pan or an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan.
Using your fingers, press the dough, from the center outward, until it covers the bottom of the pan in a uniform thickness.

Spread the lingonberry preserves over the dough and then top with the oat mixture.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 45 minutes.
Place the pan on a rack and allow to cool completely. The dough will firm up during the cooling time.

Cooks' Notes:
Earth Balance Buttery Sticks are made from oils not cream, and because of this the texture of the shortbread was just a wee bit on the oily side. Next time I would reduce the measurement to 3/4 cup.
For the toppings, I think I would increase the lingonberry preserves to 6 tablespoons. As the preserves cooked, they became chewy and added a nice sweet-tart dimension to the bars. More of this would be a good thing.
There was too much of the oat-almond topping. Next time I would reduce the oats and the almonds to 1/4 cup each and reduce the Earth Balance to 2 tablespoons. Otherwise, leave the rest of the topping as is.

You may have noticed that I haven't been blogging lately. It's true. I think it's because Mercury is in retrograde, or some such thing. I've been suffering from a bit of a writer's block I guess. (Of course that assumes I'm a writer.) It doesn't please me that my posting has dropped off but it has, and instead of stressing about it, I'm going to relax and see where all this goes. Sometimes you just gotta run with what you have. In my case, a bit of a downswing.





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6 comments:

Erika said...

Yum! I loooove lingonberries, this sounds like a great way to feature them.

The kitchen is gorgeous, btw. So warm and inviting!

Mimi said...

Well, we've missed you, Christine. But I know exactly what you mean!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Um love Lingonberry. And on shortbread! Wow, it must be good. The Earth Balance Buttery Sticks sound interesting.
Oh, Christine I am so happy for you with all the renovation on the kitchen. It just looks grand. Yellow is so wonderful in a kitchen. Hope the grout is in soon and the dust gone. Who knows that may re-invigorate you. In the meantime, you're doing just the right thing. Be good to yourself, this should be fun not hard labor.

Anonymous said...

They do look good and so does the kitchen.
Anne

Christine said...

Thanks Erika. And thanks again for your help!

Hi Mimi,
Meanwhile you're on such a fabulous roll, girl! Your new blog is wonderful and your writing just gets better and better, your following larger and larger. Take a bow!

Tanna,
Earth Balance will never be up there with pure creamery butter in my book, but it is a healthy substitute for those who have to watch their cholesterol intake, or for vegans. It's made with good oils and is packed with Omega 3 fatty acids - good-for-you stuff.
Thanks for your kind words.

Hi Anne, Wish you could see my kitchen in person!

sher said...

My goodness the kitchen looks so fabulous! The color is wonderful, you must be so happy. I also love lingonberries, grew up eating them on little Swedish pancakes. YUM! And your shortbread looks amazing. :)