I always thought shortening was evil. That is until I found out that my favorite food in the world (birthday cake frosting) was made of shortening and confectioners’ sugar and maybe vanilla (I like my birthday cakes all white – no chocolate for me) – and that it makes for a very flaky pie crust. But still, it’s one thing to buy a cake or pie from a bakery and another to use the stuff at home. So why am I devoting a post to shortening?
For one thing, I’m talking about organic shortening. It’s not hydrogenated oils (evil) like the kind you find in supermarkets. It’s palm oil (the oil from a palm seed) and nothing else – more importantly – it’s not hydrogenated (a process that turns oil that is naturally liquid at room temperature into shortening that is solid at room temperature). The flavor is very neutral which is a great deal better than the other options. As for its health benefits or lack thereof – I’m not too sure as I’ve seen some articles that praise it and others that say it’s downright bad for you. But to be honest now that “science” has declared butter and eggs okay, I’m not sure anyone knows anything about foods anymore.
I’ve never really been thrilled with my butter replacement choices since going dairy free. Ghee (clarified butter) has a flavor that overwhelms the delicate flavors of baked goods. Non-dairy margarine has too stuff in it and I’m not overly in love with the flavor. Coconut oil leaves everything tasting slightly coconutty and further the consistency can be tricky depending on the room temperature – in the summer it’s liquid and in the winter it’s rock solid. Oil tends to be…oily. But this particular shortening is solid but soft like butter that’s been allowed to soften.
I’ve been playing around with this shortening since I purchased it and find it to work pretty well in any of the recipes that I’ve used coconut oil in. Here’s the Chocolate Torte made with shortening. It’s denser and chocolate-ier than the original I posted last year. Here’s the recipe: (more…)