Rich and over-the-top chocolatey, Vegan Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies can be cut any shape. Make sandwich cookies, decorate them or enjoy just as they are. A treat anytime of year! Vegan.
I just made some matcha tea and put on my favorite fleece socks to take the chill off. Snow has been falling since mid morning and it’s beautifully still outside. This is the second time within a week we’ve had snow, a rare event in the lowlands.
The mountains, on the other hand, are covered. A snowshoe trip is in order.
And since it’s February, you know what that means…
Do you love it or loathe it? Valentine’s Day, that is.
I used to love it, then I loathed it. Now, I’m on the fence. Is it age or wisdom…. neither?
Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t turn down a bouquet of tulips, a romantic dinner or a big box of Fran’s Chocolates. OMG. But Rob typically forgets (ahem, low priority). I used to fight it, but now I’ve come to accept that it’s just not his thing.
Then I go get myself bouquet of tulips and bake something chocolatey for Rob. A box of chocolates will be happening too.
I will say it’s a good excuse for chocolate. Anything chocolate, but it has to be dark.
These cookies are adapted from my Dark Chocolate Cocoa Nib Shortbread Cookies. But instead of using butter in these cookies, I used coconut oil. And just in case, because I know there will be questions, I cannot taste the coconut oil. The cocoa and sugar mask its flavor… so it’s all about the chocolate!
I included several ways to decorate the cookies just in case you’re in the mood. Sometimes I’m not, but a girl’s gotta have options.
For sandwich cookies, you’ll whip up an easy coconut milk-based ganache, just like in these Vegan Peanut Butter Kisses. Using a pastry bag or Ziplock bag, simply pipe the ganache onto the cookie in a V shape, then gently place the top cookie on. The ganache sets up and holds the cookies together. This is my favorite way to make these cookies. That creamy center makes me happy (!!).
If you want to get all fancy and write on the cookies, simply melt a little chocolate and pipe words, letters or pearls on the cookies. I recommend a paper pastry bag for this simply because you’ll need to cut a tiny hole to control the flow of chocolate.
For a no-fuss approach, dust the cookies with powdered sugar. Simple, yes, but so pretty. Like snow.
You can have your own little Valentine’ Day party with these cookies. Or, wrap them up in festive bakers twine and give them to friends or tuck them in your love’s lunch box.
I’d love to hear about your Valentine’s Day traditions. Do you love it or loathe it?
**UPDATE** (Feb. 11, 2017 AM) – Many thanks to Mary in finding an error in my recipe and alerting me to it (see below). I transcribed the amount of coconut oil wrong and she helped me tease out the error. Thank you Mary!!
Vegan Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Rich, and over the top chocolatey, Vegan Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies can be cut any shape. Make sandwich cookies, decorate them or enjoy just as they are. A treat anytime of year! Make the dough ahead and refrigerate for up to three days, or freeze for up to one month. Time below does not include amount of time for refrigerating the dough or decorating. Due to cookie cutter size variation, cookie yields may vary. Vegan. Egg-Free, Dairy-Free.
For the Cookies:
- 1/2 C (90g) Light Brown Sugar packed. Break up any clumps
- 3 Tbs + 1 1/2 tsp Coconut Oil Unrefined, virgin, melted and at room temperature
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract (I use Rodelle)
- 1/3 C (78g) Water
- 3/4 C (113g) All Purpose, Unbleached Flour + more for dusting
- 1/4 C (30g) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, Dutch Process (I use Rodelle)
- 1/2 Tbs Corn Starch
- 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
For the Ganache (optional):
- 1/2 C (76g) High Quality Vegan Dark Chocolate 70%-72% (**see note), chopped fine
- 1/4 C + 1 Tbs (75g) Full Fat Coconut Milk from a can
- Pinch of Sea Salt
For the Chocolate Drizzle (optional):
- 1/3 C (55g) Dark ChocolateHigh Quality Vegan Dark Chocolate 70%-72% (**see note) chopped fine
- 1/8 tsp Olive Oil
For the Cookies:
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, add the brown sugar, melted coconut oil, vanilla extract and water. Using a whisk, whisk vigorously until the ingredients are incorporated and the sugar is fully hydrated (this can be done in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment). Place a sifter over the bowl and sift in the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, salt and baking soda. Stir with a wooden spoon until the ingredients come together. The batter will thicken as you stir and work in the flour, but it will seem loose... different from any cookie batter you've ever made! Press on. Eventually, knead the dough with your hands for a few seconds until the flour is fully incorporated. The dough will be very soft, sticky and supple. Shape the dough into a 1" thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes (this allows time for the flour to fully hydrate, the gluten to relax and the dough to become more pliable and solid). If refrigerating the dough longer, it will need to set at room temperature for about 1/2 an hour before the dough is soft enough to work. At this point too, the dough can be frozen for up to one year. Place in the refrigerator overnight to thaw, then proceed.
Generously flour a work surface. Unwrap the dough and sprinkle more flour on top. Use as much flour as you need to prevent sticking. Use your rolling pin to gently beat the dough (it will still be soft) - to condition it - making it just a bit flatter. Begin rolling the dough into a rectangular shape to just under 1/4" (6mm)***(see note), dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Dip the cookie cutter into flour and cut the dough into the desired shapes. I use this and this cookie cutter set. Transfer the cookies to the prepared cookie sheet. Gather the scraps, reroll and cut, repeating the process until all the dough is used. Refrigerate the cut dough for 20 minutes (this is so the cookies will hold their shape) and preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Bake for 19-21 minutes, starting to check at 18 minutes due to oven variations (dark chocolate cookies can be difficult to tell if they're done because of their dark color - I typically bake mine just past 21 minutes to make sure the cookies are dry). The cookies will still be slightly soft to the touch, but will firm up as they cool. They should be crisp when cool. Once completely cooled, decorate then store in a lidded container for up to two weeks.
For the Ganache (optional):
Place the chocolate in a small mixing bowl. Set aside. Open the can of coconut milk and whisk to break up the fat and make the milk smooth. In a small sauce pot add the coconut milk and vanilla extract. Heat the milk mixture on medium high heat until it scalds (tip: watch for bubbles to form around the outer edge of milk, this is 180F or 82C -). Watch the milk closely as you don't want it to boil or boil over. This can happen quick because it's such a small amount
Pour the milk over the chocolate. Give the bowl a shake to make sure the chocolate is covered. Let set for 2 minutes - this is required (set a timer). Stir gently to incorporate the milk and chocolate. Be patient here. This could take a few minutes. Once all the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ganache. This will eliminate a skin forming over the top. Pop in the fridge for at least 30 minutes while the cookies bake and cool.
To Finish the Cookies (Optional):
For Sandwich Cookies: Remove the ganache from the refrigerator. Scoop the ganache into a piping bag or into a Ziplock baggie. Cut a small hole in the bag or corner of a Ziplock. Gently squeeze the bag releasing about the ganache onto the cookie in a V shape form, following the shape of the heart (a little goes a long way). Gently place the top cookie on the ganache with very little pressure. The ganache will set yet still remain creamy while holding the two cookies together. If at any time the ganache becomes too thick to pipe, gently warm it in the microwave for a few seconds at a time. This isn't to melt the ganache rather, just to soften it. Store any unused portion in the refrigerator for up to one week, covered with plastic wrap (it's especially tasty in hot chocolate).
For the Chocolate Drizzle or Decorating: In a bain marie*, gently melt the chocolate, stirring occassionally. Drop in the oil, stir and pour melted chocolate into a paper piping bag. Cut the tip of the piping bag so that only a very small amount of chocolate flows out when pressure is applied to the bag. Decorate as desired.
*This video will help you set up a bain marie.
**This resource lists many vegan chocolate brands. Find what's at your market and use it! Green & Black's, Theo, Endangered Species, are excellent.
***Slight variations in cookie thickness can impact baking time. Be sure to start checking your cookies at 18 minutes. They will be slightly soft and not darker around the edges when done.