Here's a good question: what happens when you make shortbread with coconut oil?
Is it just me, or has coconut oil basically been touted as the miracle cure for everything from dry skin to hair split ends to obesity to digestive issues in recent years? To the best of my anecdotal knowledge, it seems to stand up to its claims: I use the stuff to "butter" my bread, to deeply moisturize my hair, and to soften my nails and discourage hangnails. It tastes good, it makes me look good--that's a lot in a little $10 jar.
When I recently came into a windfall of coconut oil via LouAna coconut oil, who sent me a big box of the stuff for no particular reason (other than, I guess, to mention it on my blog, so mission accomplished), I decided to try out one of my favorite foods in the world--shortbread--using coconut oil instead of butter.
I started out with the basic yet perfect shortbread recipe I came up with for Craftsy a couple of years ago. I used the exact amount of coconut oil, solid at cool room temperature, as the recipe called for butter.
When I mixed it, it didn't quite incorporate, so I added a little extra coconut oil. Why the heck not? So instead of 1/2 cup, I added 3/4 cup total. As you'll see, this may have been something of a mistake--but stay with me. Let me explain myself.
The shortbread mixture looked great at this point, nice and crumbly. I divided it in half; half of the dough, I formed into a wheel to cut into wedges....
and the rest I just shaped into little cookies.
I baked both of them for about the same amount of time, 25 minutes at 325 degrees F.
The wheel of shortbread looked like something had gone very wrong at first; it spread an incredible amount.
But because I'm nothing if not quick and clever, I decided to see what would happen if I very scientifically "scrunched" the mixture toward center using a spatula. Guess what? It worked.
The cookies came out very interestingly indeed. Some of them were very melty and spread; others were quite clean and contained. If I had to guess, I would say this was because the coconut oil was better mixed in some areas than others of the batter.
The "scrunching" technique didn't work quite as well on the cookies.
All said and done, here is what the goods looked like.
So how did it taste?
The shortbread was exceedingly tender--like, handle with extreme care. But also extremely delicious. The coconut oil added a little something-something to the flavor, not overtly coconut, but a whisper of an interesting new flavor. The texture was similar to traditional shortbread, but with the additional delicate crumbliness.
I hesitate to post a recipe here since my results were mixed, but I will post a link to the original shortbread recipe so you can mess with it if you like. I mixed by hand; I think that if you used a food processor for more complete and even mixing, and used the original quantity called for in the butter-based recipe, it would come out much cleaner. But even if I added a little too much of the coconut oil, the results were highly delicious.