Nanna James’ Shortbread

Today is going to be quick and simple as it is sunny outside and the banana lounge is calling.

Veganise an old family recipe.

I recall as a child Nanna James’ shortbread, or at least versions of it cooked by other family members. I would help at Christmas time cut little tiny pieces of red and green glacé cherries and arrange them into little hollies on top – some of my favourite memories.

After the retro recipe theme of the other week, I stumbled across Nanna’s handwritten recipe in the back of her CWA cookbook.

I did not do anything to change the shortbread itself (other than convert measurements and use vegan butter, oh, and add a dash of vanilla). Of course Nanna’s shortbread did not have chocolate and sea salt on top, but I thought I’d zazz it up a bit for MoFo. The shortbread itself is not super sweet, so the chocolate is a nice addition. If that’s not your thing, just leave it out.

0M4A0542bI didn’t use cutters to shape these (obviously) as this is how we did it when I was little, unless we were rolling out Christmas shapes in which case you might see stars, hearts and trees. The little misshapen logs please me.


Nanna’s Shortbread
(makes about 24)

1½ cups vegan butter
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2½ cups flour
1 Tbsp cornflour
150g dark chocolate
Pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 180C and line a tray with baking paper.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar with electric beaters. Add vanilla and beat to combine.

Add flour and cornflour, and rub with fingers until a dough is formed. Either roll out your dough and cut shapes if you swing that way, or simply mould little logs and place on the prepared tray. Use a fork to put a few pricks in the top.

Bake for approx 20 mins, or until slightly golden.

If using chocolate, melt chocolate over a double boiler and dip each shortbread in, then sprinkle with a little sea salt.




  1. Joey says:

    They look almost too good to eat. Almost. I think I’d eat very many of them. I do like a biscuit with a bit of dark chocolate – a bit of sweet, a bit of bitter. Perfect.

    1. littleveganbear says:

      I’m amazed there are still plenty left 😉 So much cooking in the past few days have meant they have been able to keep out of notice!

  2. shaheen says:

    I am truly touched to see that you have your Nana’s handwritten recipe, something to treasure and the shortbread, its been a while since I have had a good shortbread – the last time and this is the truth was when I lived in Scotland, Glasgow – I would gorge on them., but I am a little glad that i don’t so much now, but I want one of these, please

    1. littleveganbear says:

      It is a really cool thing – absolutely something to treasure. I don’t have shortbread now much except at Christmas when I always think to make it. I know Scotland is quite famous for shortbread, isn’t it?

  3. They look really cute both when plain and when fancied up with chocolate and sea salt. Did you press the glace fruit into the uncooked shortbread and cook the holly shapes into it ? I love the sound of helping with it.

    1. littleveganbear says:

      Yes! We would press them in then cook them – the hollies would get all chewy and nice.

  4. Caroline says:

    Chocolate and seasalt sound like an excellent addition. I am sitting here munching on dark chocolate studded with pistachio and sea salt I’ve just bought from a local makers fair.

    1. littleveganbear says:

      Ooh that sounds divine! Chocolate and sea salt are a match made in heaven!

  5. lysette says:

    Your nana’s recipe is well worn and loved! My youngest sister and mom make shortbread every christmas too, round with a chocolate wafer on top. The chocolate looks like a nice, dark balance to the cookie -important question- eat the cookie end or chocolate end first?

    1. littleveganbear says:

      I know – it’s so precious! Ooh, I’d love to see your wafer shortbreads, they sound great. I eat the cookie end first so it doesn’t seem too bland afterwards, haha.

  6. Susan says:

    They are very pretty. I love seeing your Nanna’s handwritten recipes. 🙂

    1. littleveganbear says:

      Thank you 🙂

  7. Jennifer says:

    These look AMAZING and I totally LOVE that you still have Nana’s handwritten cookbook! Treasure that for sure!

    1. littleveganbear says:

      Thanks Jennifer! It’s really cool – I knew of her recipe but only just found this handwritten version when my mum gave me the book to look through.

  8. Olivia says:

    This looks so delicious and I love the shot of your Nanna’s handwritten recipe–so special!

    1. littleveganbear says:

      Thanks Olivia 😀 It really is special!

  9. Ttrockwood says:

    How wonderful you have her recipes! These would be so perfect with a cup of tea-and i love that they are slightly imperfect shapes, it just emphasizes they are homemade 🙂

    1. littleveganbear says:

      I agree – I love the little wonky biccies! And you’re right, they are total tea partners.

  10. Thanks – I can’t wait to try out this recipe!

    1. littleveganbear says:

      Yay, hope you like it Ana!

  11. These look so good! I’d definitely dip mine in dark chocolate, yum!

    1. littleveganbear says:

      Thanks Sophie 🙂

  12. laurasmess says:

    I LOVE the shot of your nanna’s old handwritten cookbook! Things like that are such a treasure. I’ve kept most of the letters I received from my grandmother in England and my great grandmother also; unfortunately neither of them could cook very well so there are no family recipes. Love this vegan version of classic shortbread. The chocolate dip looks divine (particularly with the sea salt).

    1. littleveganbear says:

      I know right, it’s an awesome little piece of family history. I don’t remember general cooking from my great grandparents – I think there was a lot of stuff I’d find pretty gross now like pieces of meat that I’m not even sure their origin, but the things that stand out to me are shortbread, pavlova, sausage rolls, gingerbread and angel cakes. Lots of sweeties!

  13. Jen says:

    I made these on the weekend. Such a simple but delicious recipe. I made both plain and with chocolate and I have to say that I like the plain best! And I followed your lead, little logs! Thanks.

    1. littleveganbear says:

      Thanks so much Jen! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed them 🙂 My Nanna would be happy that plain were your favourite – just like she used to make them!

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