These cookies were quite a hit, with men and women alike, at a recent potluck garden party. A buzz spread through the party as one guest tried them and passed the word. I happily took home an empty platter! The cookies are simple, but very special in appearance and flavor. The shortbread recipe is from my Blooming Platter Cookbook (copyright© 2011, Vegan Heritage Press; used by permission). And the ingenious Vegan Lemon Curd is from my friend and fellow vegan cookbook author/blogger, Bryanna Clark Grogan. The secret ingredient that replaces the eggs in the curd is, believe it or not, the lowly parsnip! You won't believe how perfectly parsnips make this curd mimic its dairy cousin. (The lemon verbena leaves fleck the cookies with green, so if you prefer a matching green filling, Bryanna's recipe easily adapts to lime curd for a lemon-lime version of this sandwich cookie.) If you don't have lemon verbena growing in our garden, you should! But if it isn't available, you can substitute lemon zest, I'm just not sure how much, but I would start with the zest of one large lemon and taste. Remember, vegan cookies contain no eggs, so taste away. You can also substitute fresh lemon juice for the water for a zippier cookie. However, nothing quite duplicates the earthy, herby, citrusy goodness of lemon verbena.
Lemon Verbena Shortbread Sandwich Cookies [Vegan]
18 sandwich cookies
- 1 cup Confectioner's sugar + 2 tablespoons
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh lemon verbena leaves, inspected for insects, rinsed, and dried well (or zest of one large lemon or to taste)
- 3/4 cup vegan butter, room temperature
- 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water (or fresh lemon juice if using lemon zest instead of lemon verbena leaves)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 recipe Quick and Easy Vegetable-BasedVegan Lemon Curd (recipe follows)
- 1/2 pound parsnips, peeled and diced
- 3/4 cup natural sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vegan butter
- 6 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon or lime juice + 1/2 tablespoon
- Finely grated zest of one large organic lemon or lime
- 1 pinch turmeric
- Combine the one cup confectioner's sugar and lemon verbena leaves in a food processor and process until the leaves are finely minced.
- Add the vegan butter, water, vanilla, flour, and cornstarch, and pulse until the dough begins to come together. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and pulse again until the dough forms a ball. The dough should be quite stiff, but not dry and crumbly.
- Divide the dough into two halves and arrange each one in the center of a square of waxed or parchment paper.
- With floured fingers, form each into a 1 1/2-inch diameter log, tapping the ends to flatten them.
- Roll the logs smoothly in the paper, place them on a baking sheet, and chill them for at least an hour. While dough chills, make Vegan Lemon Curd.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.
- Remove logs from the refrigerator and slice them, on the diagonal, into 1/4-inch wide cookies.
- Place cookies one inch apart on prepared baking sheets.
- Bake for 15 minutes, rotating the sheets after 7 or 8 minutes.
- Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
- To make sandwich cookies, spread a heaping teaspoon of curd on half of the cookies and top each with another cookie.
- Sift remaining 2 tablespoons of confectioner's sugar over the top before serving. A nice garnish for a platter of these cookies is a lemon or lemon slices nestled into a sprig of lemon verbena leaves.
- Microwave the parsnips with 1/2 cup water in a covered microwave-safe dish for 10 minutes, or until very tender.
- Drain if necessary and place in a food processor with the remaining ingredients, except for the last 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice. Process until very smooth. Scrape the mixture back into the microwave-proof bowl.
- Microwave on high for 3 minutes, uncovered. Whisk until smooth and microwave on high for 3 minutes more. The curd should be thick and glossy.
- Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice and whisk vigorously for a minute or two.
- Transfer the mixture into a jar or dish, cover and refrigerate. Keeps 2 weeks. Serve at room temperature.