Vegan (& Gluten Free) Pecan Shortbread Cookies

These lovely pecan shortbread cookies are my dad’s very favorite cookie. I needed to bake some to send to him for his birthday, so I thought it was a good opportunity to share this recipe with all of you! He likes his pecan shortbread perfectly plain, and they are delicious that way. However, this cookie dough is really versatile, and you can make an assortment of different kinds of cookies very easily. I made all of these from one batch of dough:

  1. Plain circles
  2. Plain crescents
  3. Plain jam thumbprints
  4. Powdered sugar crescents
  5. Chocolate drizzled circles
  6. Chocolate drizzled crescents
  7. Chocolate drizzled jam thumbprints
  8. Chocolate dipped circles
  9. Chocolate dipped crescents
  10. Chocolate dipped jam thumbprints
  11. Chocolate dipped & drizzled circles
  12. Chocolate dipped & drizzled crescents
  13. Chocolate dipped & drizzled jam thumbprints

That is a lot of kinds of cookies from one batch of dough! Here are the ingredients you will need to make them:

(You will also need jam, vegan powdered sugar, vegan chocolate chips, and shortening if you want to make all of the variations like I did.)

I prefer to use my own gluten free flour blend, but it requires my egg replacement which is not available quite yet. My egg replacement makes xanthan and guar gums unnecessary and gives a superior result. It will be out in January 2018, and I will be sharing more about it in an upcoming post! (Click on this link for a sneak peek video.) In the meantime, I used this 1:1 flour from Bob’s Red Mill to make these cookies. It worked very well and I was quite pleased with the result:

You should be able to use any gluten free flour blend that has xanthan gum already added if you can’t find this one, and this recipe should also work with all-purpose wheat flour. I highly recommend weighing any flour, however, because different flour blends have different densities, and measuring flour is inaccurate anyway. If you do measure, spoon the flour into your measuring cup, then level it with a straight edge.

Start by toasting your pecans in the oven for five to eight minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch them carefully to be sure they do not burn. They should be fragrant and lightly browned. Set the pan aside to cool.

This is one of the rare recipes where I use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks instead of the spread, and you want to use them cold right out of the fridge. Cut each stick into eight pieces and add them to your mixing bowl:

Mix on medium speed until the Earth Balance is smooth:

Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla:

Mix on medium-low speed for several minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed:

Gradually add the plant milk while the mixer is running:

Add the baking powder to the flour and whisk to combine:

Add one-third of the flour at a time, mixing after each addition:

Your dough should look like this:

Finely chop your toasted and cooled pecans, then mix them into the dough:

Scrape down the bowl and mix with a sturdy spatula to be sure the pecans are evenly distributed:

Divide the dough into fifty pieces and shape as desired. If you have a scale, each piece of dough weighs 27 grams. If you don’t, each piece should be about 1 1/8″ in diameter.

My dad likes plain circles, so I made those first. Flatten each piece of dough into a 1/4″ thick circle on a parchment-lined baking sheet:

Chill the shaped cookie dough for one hour. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the chilled cookie dough for 16 to 19 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown:

Let them cool on the pan for five minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely:

I packed 18 cookies into a small priority mail box for my dad. They fit perfectly with a layer of padding on both the bottom and top of the box, and waxed paper between the layers:

I added a birthday card and mailed it out! Happy Birthday, Dad!

Next, I shaped some of the dough pieces into crescents. They are about 3/8″ thick. Chill for one hour before baking:

I baked these for 19 minutes, and they would have been better with 18 as they got a bit too dark on the edges:

I made the rest of the dough into jam thumbprints. They are about 1/2″ thick on the edges. Chill for one hour before adding the jam and baking:

Add about a teaspoon of jam to each one:

Bake for 16 to 20 minutes until the edges are golden brown:

These are my favorites!

Once the crescents are completely cooled, you can shake them in a bag of vegan powdered sugar. I shake one at a time to prevent cookie crumbs from breaking off. (It works best to shake a cookie, tap off the excess sugar, then shake again.)

You will need to temper vegan chocolate if you want to dip or drizzle your cookies. I made a half batch since I was leaving over half of my cookies plain. You will probably need two batches of tempered chocolate to dip and drizzle all fifty cookies.

Hold a cookie by the top of the edges and dip the bottom into the tempered chocolate:

Place onto a waxed or parchment paper-lined pan to allow the chocolate to harden:

When you finish dipping the cookies, add the rest of your tempered chocolate to a Ziploc baggie:

Cut off the tip of one corner and drizzle chocolate on your cookies:

I love to make up assorted cookie plates! They are perfect for parties and also make wonderful gifts!

Enjoy!

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Vegan (& Gluten Free) Pecan Shortbread Cookies

These delicious, buttery cookies are full of toasted pecans! They are very versatile, and you can make an assortment of beautiful cookies from one dough!

Course Cookies, Dessert
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 50 cookies
Calories 135 kcal
Author Deborah Mesdag

Ingredients

  • 480 g (3 3/4 c) Gluten Free Flour
  • 7.5 g (1 1/2 tsp) Baking Powder
  • 240 g (2 3/8 c) Pecan Halves (or 2 c chopped)
  • 340 g (3 sticks) Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
  • 225 g (1 1/8 c) Vegan Sugar
  • 15 g (1 TBS) Vanilla Extract
  • 4.8 g (3/4 tsp) Salt
  • 45 g (3 TBS) Plant Milk (I use Silk Soymilk)
  • Vegan Powdered Sugar (optional)
  • Vegan Chocolate Chips (optional)
  • Shortening (if tempering chocolate)

Instructions

  1. Start by toasting your pecans in the oven for five to eight minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch them carefully to be sure they do not burn. They should be fragrant and lightly browned. Set the pan aside to cool.
  2. This is one of the rare recipes where I use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks instead of the spread, and you want to use them cold right out of the fridge. Cut each stick into eight pieces and add them to your mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed until the Earth Balance is smooth.

  3. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Mix on medium-low speed for several minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Gradually add the plant milk while the mixer is running.

  4. Add the baking powder to the flour and whisk to combine. Add one-third of the flour mixture at a time to the creamed mixture, mixing after each addition.

  5. Finely chop your toasted and cooled pecans, then mix them into the dough. Scrape down the bowl and mix with a sturdy spatula to be sure the pecans are evenly distributed.

  6. Divide the dough into fifty pieces and shape as desired. If you have a scale, each piece of dough weighs 27 grams. If you don’t, each piece should be about 1 1/8″ in diameter.
  7. Chill the shaped cookie dough for one hour. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the chilled cookie dough for 16 to 19 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. Let them cool on the pan for five minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

  8. See blog post for shaping and decorating suggestions. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

  • You should be able to use any gluten free flour blend that has xanthan gum already added if you can’t find this one, and this recipe should also work with all-purpose wheat flour. I highly recommend weighing any flour, however, because different flour blends have different densities, and measuring flour is inaccurate anyway. If you do measure, spoon the flour into your measuring cup, then level it with a straight edge.

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