Friday, July 30, 2010

Vegan Rhubarb-Almond Shortbread Bars

Fruit and shortbread need not come out of a vending machine. Does anyone else make that unfortunate association because of those wacky cellophane wrapped cookies? (I'm looking at you, Knott's!)

Shortbread is easy enough to make, and it's easy enough to make vegan. Who needs butter when you have Earth Balance? Cut down on the amount of sugar used in a typical shortbread recipe, and you'll have a treat that will leave you feeling way less guilty! I was inspired by a recipe I saw on that used rhubarb and almond, but I mixed walnut and almond, and I'm sure peach and pecan would be a great combo as well!

I'm not so ashamed to add that I donated a batch of these to a friend's bake sale, and they totally sold out. Besides, hasn't that cupcake trend run it's course?

The Whats:

* 6 cups of 1/2 in. pieces of rhubarb
* 1/2 tsp. orange zest
* 1 cup granulated organic sugar
* 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 tsp. baking powder
* 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
* pinch of salt
* 1 cup (16 tbsp) Earth Balance butter
* 1 tbsp. canola oil
* 2/3 cup mixed unsalted almonds and walnuts, chopped

The Hows:

1) In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the rhubarb and half a cup of the sugar and cook until rhubarb releases some juices, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook rhubarb for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is soft. Scoop rhubarb into a bowl and allow it to cool.

2) In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, remaining half cup of sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Scoop tablespoon sized pieces of Earth Balance into the flour mix and rub between your fingertips until ingredients form a crumbly dough. Add oil and using hands, combine until dough forms large, crumbly chunks. Shape dough into a large disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.

3) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. After one hour, remove dough from refrigerator. Coat a 13x9 baking dish with a few extra teaspoons of Earth Balance to prevent sticking. Evenly press pieces of the dough into the dish to form the shortbread crust. Evenly sprinkle chopped nuts over the top and press lightly into the dough. Using a slotted spoon, spread rhubarb evenly atop the nuts and dough. Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, until shortbread has browned and rhubarb is bubbly at the edges. Allow rhubarb shortbread to cool completely before cutting into squares.

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