Last month I participated in the delightful Sweet Swap which involved making sweet treats to send to a number of other bloggers all over Australia. It was a whole bunch of fun and a great way to meet other foodies, as well as discover new recipes which had fellow bloggers acting as taste testers to vouch for their deliciousness.
The Sweet Swap required you to make one treat but due to my inability to read instructions properly in the face of a food challenge, I ended up making three! I made some Chocolate and Peanut Butter Fudge and Caramelised Cornflake Praline but the treat I was most pleased with was my Lemon Myrtle and Thyme Shortbread. These shortbreads were beautifully scented and tasted so, so good. They’re also vegan and gluten free to boot.
I was inspired by Tenina Holder’s recipe for butter shortbread from her Thermomix cookbook For Food’s Sake which uses scented sugar (Tenina does a similar thing with salt too). Scented sugar is a simple yet ingenious process of blitzing up some raw sugar with anything from your favourite fresh herb to dried citrus rind or probably even chilli. You end up with a beautifully blended soft sugar that lends whatever you bake with it a lovely fragrance and flavour.
I had a go at making some lemon and thyme scented sugar to use in my shortbread and fell in love instantly. The lemon rind and fresh herb had a real zing! Rather than butter shortbread however, I decided to go vegan as it’d been a while since I did some vegan baking (I still love my Chocolate & Coconut Cake) and given I had to send my shortbread across the Nullabor, I felt more comfortable keeping dairy and eggs out of the equation.
In place of butter, I used some vegan margarine and olive oil. Instead of adding regular EVOO though, at the last minute I decided to use some lemon myrtle infused olive oil which just so happened to be languishing in my pantry. It’s largely been unused as it’s a touch too strong for use in salads but I had a hunch it would be a wonderful addition to my shortbread. Happily I was right :D
The shortbread will still be lovely just with regular EVOO and the lemon and thyme scented sugar (I also tossed some extra sugar over the finished shortbread) but if you can find some lemon myrtle infused olive oil (or make some with these instructions from The Kitchn), it’s worth the effort to add that certain something. You could also try making scented sugar with fresh lemon myrtle or lemon myrtle oil, adding as little or as much as you like.
Butter fiends may miss its flavour but everyone who tried this shortbread said they were sufficiently short without the butter and dangerously moreish. The lack of buttery decadence is definitely made up for by the scented sugar. I can’t wait to try more shortbreads with different flavours.
- 140g of raw sugar
- zest of one lemon
- two or three sprigs of fresh thyme
- 90g of vegan margarine such as Nuttlex/Nuttlex Lite
- 80g of lemon myrtle infused olive oil or plain EVOO
- 320g of flour (I used gluten free)
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp of lemon juice (this is not needed but I prefer my shortbread to have a slightly lemon tang - try it!)
- Pre-heat oven to 180C fan forced (355F) or 160C (320F).
- Prepare scented sugar by placing raw sugar, lemon zest and thyme into TMX bowl and blitz on speed 10 for 10 seconds. The same result can be achieved with a good food processor but for a longer blitz. Set aside sugar (no need to clean bowl).
- Place margarine, olive oil and 100g of sugar in TMX bowl and combine on Speed 4 for 5 seconds.
- Add flour, salt and lemon juice and process on Speed 6 for 10 seconds.
- Empty shortbread dough onto a working surface and shape as desired. The easiest thing is to roll the dough into a log and slice 1cm rounds. I shaped my log into a rod in order to make squares.
- Place shortbread pieces on a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden.
- Allow to cool on wire rack. Transfer to airtight container once cooled and sprinkle extra scented sugar over shortbread.