This week I got an extremely urgent message from my gal Lori, the Yiddish Chantoosie. Apparently, I had to drop everything and make this recipe for Swedish butter cookies she found on the side of a box of Swan's potato starch. These cookies, I was informed, needed to be made so urgently because they would come close to reproducing something called “Brown-Edge Wafers” a commercial cookie long discontinued but, in some quarters at least, never forgotten. I resisted this suggestion at first because my feeling about cookies is that they fall into two categories: chocolate chip, and who cares? And anyway, Brown-Edge what?
But it was the day before Purim, and the antic air that surrounds our festive feast of inversion made this plan suddenly seem like the most logical course of action in the world. Besides, I had almost a full box of potato starch from last Passover. Every year I go buy a box of potato starch, and I use maybe one tablespoon, and then the next year I do it again, because even though I am pretty sure I won’t be needing any potato starch, what if I suddenly really do need some potato starch during peysekh, and every single box in the city is taken? This is the kind of thing I worry about. Potato starch in my home plays pretty much the same role as the symbolic foods on the Seder Plate. You don’t eat them, exactly, but you have to have them.
Well, from now on I will be doing everything Lori tells me to. These cookies are really something special. They are shatteringly crisp and meltingly tender, and the flavor of the butter really shines. I am thinking of trying a peysekhdic version with cake meal, but this would involve getting more potato starch before peysekh, and that is just insane. This recipe is adapted from the Swan's box and Maida Heatter's Uppakra recipe.
Uppåkra (Swedish Butter Cookies)
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup potato starch
1 cup flour
Cream together butter and sugar in a mixer or with a pastry blender. Beat in the salt, egg and vanilla. Sift together the flour and potato starch; add to butter mixture and beat until combined. Chill dough for about an hour. Roll into small balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Press each ball gently with the heel of your hand or the bottom of a glass to flatten. These cookies will spread less than you expect during baking, so go ahead and flatten with some muscle. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes or until edges are brown. You will have enough for about four half-sheet pans.
The smaller you make the cookies, the more edge-to-middle ratio you will have, and these little guys are all about edge.
Labels: Purim Pirim פּורים, The baker's craft בעסער בײַם בעקער