My boyfriend is obsessed with shortbread. We like to limit our dairy and refined sugar intake as much as we can (it just makes us feel more energetic and less bloated), so obviously buttery, sweet, crumbly shortbread are off the menu most of the time. Right? WRONG.
I’ve been making refined-sugar-free/dairy-free desserts for about a year now, and it’s quite amazing how much you can do with a few unexpected ingredients. However, one evening, when my boyfriend asked me if I thought I could make him some shortbread without refined sugar or dairy, my immediate response was, ‘absolutely not.’
Undeterred, he trotted off to the kitchen (putting into practice the hours of watching me cook desserts – he’d never attempted it himself before) and I sat there smugly waiting for the disaster I was certain was about to come.
Oh, how wrong I was.
The result was 12 not-too-sweet, rich, crumbly biscuits, which were gone in 24 hours (he eats a lot more than me, I promise, I only had like… six?)
Since then I’ve tried loads of different flavour combinations and the all-time favourite comes out every time as chocolate and coconut – the cocoa gives it a richness which compensates for the fact that they’re slightly less sweet than normal shortbreads. Although, I do have to give all due credit to my boyfriend for the original concoction – without him I wouldn’t have these biscuits in my life and the world would be a dark and miserable place.
Raisins/sultanas/stoned dates 100g
Coconut oil 3 heaped dessert spoons
Desiccated coconut 75g
Cocoa powder 50g
Flour (plain or wholewheat) 50g
I use a blender for absolutely every dessert I make. My current blender is the Kenwood FP120 which I bought on amazon. It isn’t top-of-the-range but it was cheap and it gets the job done, which is all I need 🙂
It also saves me massively on time, effort and washing up, as I shove everything in here and whizz it about until it looks right – no separate bowls or heavy stirring (no guns for me).
- I always, always, always add the dates/raisins/sultanas first. This is our sugar. It’s really okay to use any of the three fruits – if you have flavour preferences go with those, but do remember to buy stoned dates if you don’t want your blender to die! Today I used a mix of sultanas and dates.
- Put three heaped dessert spoons of coconut oil in with your dried fruit. I use a dessert spoon because a) I have about fifty of them, b) three of them makes the perfect consistency of biscuit batter and c) I neither own a tablespoon nor am I sure what one actually looks like. Blend the hell out of your fruit and coconut oil until it looks like this.
- Add your desiccated coconut and blend again.
- Add your cocoa and blend again.
- Add your flour and blend again (I know, so repetitive, but blending with every ingredient means the dried fruit gets really well chopped up, and everything mixes nicely – you can see from the photo above that it doesn’t form a paste at the first try – or maybe your blender is better than mine and you can try doing it all together 😉 let me know!)
- Have a look at your biscuit batter. It should look like the below. Please note that mine still has bits of flour which haven’t mixed, we will deal with this next. This is also a good chance to have a little taste and see if you’d prefer more dried fruit/coconut/cocoa for your biscuits.
7. Tip your batter out onto a nice, clean work surface and work at it with your hands until everything is combined nicely. You won’t need any additional flour for this! It will be crumbly, but should easily form into a sausage when you roll it under your hands. You can choose the thickness and length, I make mine slightly squared so that the biscuits turn out rectangular. At this point it should look like… well, you can see for yourself below (SO unappetising, but I promise you it’s worth it!)
Wrap it in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes (or an hour, or whilst you nip to the shops, or for the night, whatever you like).
8. Set your oven to 150°C and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Unwrap your sausage (lol), it should be solid by now, and cut it into about 1cm thick slices.
9. Line your baking tray with your biscuits and pop them in the oven. I put mine a little lower than the middle shelf as my oven is a ferocious beast, but for normal ovens middle should be fine.
10. Leave them in there for a MAXIMUM of ten minutes. They’ll still be soft and squidgy, but should be slightly browned and smell chocolatey. Leave them out on the side until they’re completely cool, and then transfer them onto a plate or into a container – you’ll notice they’re now firm and biscuit-like! Tuck in and enjoy with a glass of almond milk in front of the TV and thank me later 😉