Vegan Halloween Shortbread Cookies

Baking sheet and cooling tray with halloween-stenciled shortbread cookies on it

These vegan shortbread cookies are glammed up with chocolate royal icing and some festive stenciling. They’re perfect for enjoying at your next pumpkin carving party!

Baking tray filled with Vegan Halloween Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate Royal Icing and halloween decorations around it

EDIT: this post is from 2011, but here in 2020 I’ve revamped it a bit, including an upgraded recipe and some substitution suggestions. So, please, enjoy the sentiments of old while getting the perks of the makeover!

All ingredients for shortbread cookies in small bowls and ramekins

Happy Halloween, everybody! I love the creativity involved in this holiday but, because it’s officially here, it means that Vegan MOFO 2011 is over! Boooo! Overall, it’s been fun sharing my adventures with everyone and finding out about the hundreds of cool vegan blogs out there. I can’t be too sad that it’s over knowing that I will continue, business as usual, posting on a consistent basis and meeting new bloggers! That being said, let us continue on to the delicious sugar cookies that I made for my friend’s pumpkin carving party on Saturday.

Hand cutting out halloween-themed cookies with cutters

I was in a bit of a rush on Saturday, so this delicious treat was the amalgamation of a couple of different recipes. The sugar cookie recipe that I used was one that I found over at Chez Betty, whose heart cookies look adorable! (EDIT: for this recipe I’ve added a shortbread recipe that I developed a couple years after this post!) The only thing that I did differently was half the recipe and roll out the dough to used cookie cutters after I took it out of the refrigerator.

Image collage of using hand mixer to make chocolate royal icing

Next, I tried to figure out what to do with the decorations; was I going to use sprinkles? Was it going to be topped with icing? What flavor would the icing be? Oh, the hard decisions you have to make when baking! 😉 I started winging it, and this is where things get a little hazy as far as recipes go. For this updated version, I’ve nailed it down for you in the form of vegan, chocolate royal icing!

Baking sheet and cooling tray with halloween-stenciled shortbread cookies on it

Substitutions + Ingredient Notes:

  • Ground flaxseed – chia seeds will also work here, as it’s too create an “egg” for binding.
  • Vegan butter – there are many options on the market now, that can cater to different allergies as well. But, coconut oil will also work in this recipe!
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour – I feel that a 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour will also work in this application.
  • Aquafaba AKA chickpea brine – this lil’ miracle ingredient is truly just the excess liquid from a can of chickpeas. You can also use brine from any other light-colored beans. If you cook your own beans, reduce the brine in a pan and cool to room temp so that it’s not too runny.
  • Black cocoa powder – this cocoa powder is as it sounds, very dark, and has a robust chocolate flavor. You can also use dutch-processed cocoa powder here, but the icing will be a little lighter (still tasty, though!).
  • Halloween stencils – I bought these back in 2011, and it looks like this set from Martha Stewart has been discontinued. BUT, you can find some other halloween cookie stencils.
Baking sheet and cooling tray with halloween-stenciled shortbread cookies on it

Halloween Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate Royal Icing

Yield: 20 cookies
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 13 minutes
Chilling Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 58 minutes

These buttery, not-too-sweet, vegan shortbread cookies pair perfectly with chocolate royal icing. And, with the help of some stencils they are totally festive for Halloween!

Ingredients

For the shortbread

  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) hot water
  • 1 tablespoon (7 g) ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup (113 g) vegan butter
  • 1/2 cup (116 g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) non-dairy milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (202 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the chocolate royal icing

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (37 ml) aquafaba AKA chickpea brine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (260 g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (9 g) black cocoa powder, sifted

Instructions

  1. For the shortbread cookies, in a small bowl, stir together flaxseed with water and let set for 5 minutes. Set aside. In a stand or hand-held mixer, whip sugar and vegan butter, at high speed, until combined. Still mixing, add in flaxseed mixture, milk, and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry mix to stand mixer, at medium speed until cookie dough is crumbly but sticks together when pressed or squeezed. Form two dough balls, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate dough for 10 to 15 minutes, or until slightly firm.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F (176C or gas mark 3) and line a large baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Lightly flour your workspace and rolling pin, and roll out the cookie dough to a ¼-inch thick, one ball at a time.
  4. Using cookie cutters, cut out your cookie shapes and place on baking sheet, kneading leftover dough each time with new dough and repeating process. Small cookie cutters yields roughly 30 cookies, the ones pictured in the post yield 20.
  5. Bake the cookies for 11 to 13 minutes, making sure that they are lightly golden. Place cookies on cooling rack. They will further harden once they reach room temperature. Cool for 20 minutes or until they're room temperature.
  6. For the royal icing, in a medium bowl, beat chickpea brine and vanilla with hand mixer, at medium speed, until foamy (or do this in a stand mixer); this will take about a minute. Add ¼ cup (32 g) powdered sugar at a time, incorporate into bowl while continuing to mix at medium speed, add cocoa powder about 1/2-way through. Mix until combined and smooth.
  7. Transfer mixture to a piping bag with small, circular tip, or a zip-top bag with a small hole cut in a corner of it. Pipe icing onto the cookies, using a spoon to move it around and close little holes. If you want to have some "inverted" cookies, like I have, leave the icing off and dust with cocoa powder. And enjoy!

Notes

  • Ground flaxseed - chia seeds will also work here, as it's too create an "egg" for binding.
  • Vegan butter - coconut oil will also work in this recipe!
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour - I feel that a 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour will also work in this application.
  • Aquafaba AKA chickpea brine - this lil' miracle ingredient is truly just the excess liquid from a can of chickpeas. If you cook your own beans, reduce the brine in a pan and cool to room temp so that it's not too runny.
  • Black cocoa powder - You can also use dutch-processed cocoa powder here, but the icing will be a little lighter (still tasty, though!).
  • Halloween stencils - I bought these back in 2011, and it looks like this set from Martha Stewart has been discontinued. BUT, you can find other halloween stencils.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 84Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 36mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 3g

The nutrition information is calculated by a plug-in, and isn't always accurate. Please calculate your own with the products that you use, as it will be different for everyone.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Hand holding up one halloween shortbread cookie in the shape of a cat head

Even after the stressing out about the unique way of icing these cookies, I brought them over to Sarah’s and everybody loved them! I probably should have made the whole recipe, but I think it’s better this way (with less cookies in my belly!).

I also brought another dish to the party, but I won’t be sharing that with you until later this week, perhaps tomorrow? 🙂 Instead, I will leave you with the end result of our pumpkin carving party! One pumpkin is a tad NSFW, and was not done by me! Can you guess which one is mine?

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..

….

Well, of course it would be the one with vegan pizza and beer on it! And my blog initials, too, dang I’m such a nerd! 😀

Again, Happy Halloween, everyone and I hope that you had a great weekend and Vegan MOFO! Stay safe and eat lots of vegan treats, I will probably just stuff my face with pumpkin beer and butter pecan icecream. 😉

11 Comments on “Vegan Halloween Shortbread Cookies

  1. Oh my gosh – your pumpkins look AMAZING! And I love the idea of adding cocoa powder to the icing.. delicious.

    • Thank you, you’re too kind! I carved another one today, maybe it will go up tomorrow.. 🙂

    • Thank you for the kind words AND the article, how interesting! I’ll definitely have to share that on here!

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