Vegan Lemon-Chamomile Shortbread + Montenegro Spritz Cocktail

An Aperol Spritz (Aperol + Prosecco + a slice of orange) is probably the most popular summer drink in Italy. It's certainly refreshing on a hot summer day, but it is normally much too sweet for my personal taste. So, in comes my favorite Italian bitter liqueur: Amaro Montenegro. It is citrusy and bittersweet, perfectly paired with a dry California sparkling wine. Literally, the exact thing I want to drink while sitting on a porch in South Carolina...with some cookies...

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Montenegro Spritz

1 oz. Amaro Montenegro
3-5 oz. cold sparkling wine
Lemon or orange peel (or slice), for garnish

Simply pour one ounce of Amaro Montenegro into a Champagne flute or coupe and fill, to your desire, with sparkling wine. Garnish with some fancy lemon or orange peel or just a thin slice. 

Yay!

Vegan Lemon-Chamomile Shortbread Cookies

Vegan baking can be a little temperamental, but these butter-free shortbread cookies came out better than I expected! Be sure to use refined coconut oil since it has a neutral taste - if you don't mind having a coconut flavor in your cookies, go ahead and use unrefined or virgin coconut oil. 

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Ingredients

3/4 cup refined coconut oil 
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. lemon oil
Zest of one lemon
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 generous tsp. ground chamomile
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. sea salt
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the coconut oil until completely smooth. Add the sugar and mix on medium speed for about one minute. 

2. Add the lemon oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, chamomile, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix just until combined.

3. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour 1/3 cup at a time. As with pastry and pie doughs, the amount of flour needed can vary. You don't want the dough to be soft and wet, but you also don't want it to be dry, crumbly, and falling apart. If it's too wet, just add a bit more flour. Too dry, add a little bit of water or even some more lemon juice. 

4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and bring the dough together in a 2-inch thick log. Wrap the log tightly in either parchment paper or plastic wrap, making sure to twist the ends.

5. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. The dough is ready to bake when it feels firm to the touch. You should be able to squeeze the dough log without making much of a dent and it should be easy to slice. Slice into 1/3" cookies and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about an inch apart.

Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden brown. You should get 14-16 cookies total. 

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