Vegan Shortbread cookies

I’ll admit that I had some difficulty trying to categorise these. I’m fairly sure their texture and flavour qualifies them for shortbread, but they also share similarities with Viennese biscuits (whose swirl pattern I copied) as well as your average biscuit-tin biscuit, or even sugar cookies.

My categorisation of baked goods more generally has shifted over the years anyway. The Princeton University campus had an underground cookie den which served free tea and cookies between 4pm-6pm and 10pm-12am, which sounds dodgy put like that, but was  in fact a veritable sanctuary when it was snowing and ten degrees below freezing outside. There I got into a few mild verbal disputes over the correct terminology for such baked goods. To my mind a cookie is a soft, chewy item, ideally eaten still oven-warm and usually filled with chocolate chips or raisins — anything with more of a crunch to it, sturdy enough to be dipped in tea, is a biscuit. But cross-examination from my American counterparts over exactly where the line between cookie and biscuit is therefore drawn rather revealed the weakness of my argument. Whilst I’ll never accept that a biscuit is a soft bread-like thing to be eaten with gravy, I have begun since then to apply the term ‘cookie’ more liberally. Which is strangely liberating.

Makes 20-24 biscuits depending on how large you make them.


  • 125g vegan butter, softened
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 25g arrowroot starch
  • 125g plain flour
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp raw cane sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 170 C (fan). Line a cookie sheet with greaseproof paper
  2. Beat together all ingredients except the cane sugar in a large bowl until thoroughly mixed
  3. Either pipe or just roll out the dough into cookies and place on the greaseproof paper, evenly spaced. Sprinkle over the cane sugar.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden. Leave to cool.


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