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March 30, 2008

Arrowroot (Recipe: arrowroot cookies)

Arrowroot1

What's the best thing about blogging?

After a lifetime as a professional writer and editor, I can answer without hesitation. Reaching and interacting with a new audience of smart, funny, interesting readers all around the world. Learning from those smart, funny, interesting readers.

And being able to correct mistakes pointed out to me by those smart, funny, interesting readers.

I remember how I felt when, at age 16, I saw my first byline in a real not-my-high-school newspaper. Joy! Rapture!

And then, I saw it. A typographical error. A typo.

Darn. I had proofed the original -- an obituary, only two or three paragraphs long -- a dozen times. No typo, yet there it was in print, irrevocable, for ever and ever, under my very first byline. I was crushed.

Since then, of course there have been many errors, and, like the first ding I put in the bumper of my dad's car, I've learned to own up to the mistakes I make and to live with those that appear in print, uninvited and unloved, under my name.

In The Perfect Pantry (oh, joy of blogging!) I can and do fix mistakes. I can, and do, add and improve, too.

In a previous post about arrowroot (also called arrowroot starch or flour), I wrote about the origins and benefits of using arrowroot instead of cornstarch. I forgot to mention that arrowroot gives a better sheen to sauces, and that sauces thickened with arrowroot will freeze better than those thickened with other starches. And I learned from a reader that because arrowroot is not a leavening agent, it can be used in cooking and baking for Passover.

Arrowroot biscuit packaging now features happy, smiling babies on the box.

I also wrote that in my earlier post, and ever since, I've wanted to eat my words. Not because it isn't true. It is true, but I wish it weren't.

In the comments, a reader posted the ingredient list from Nabisco's arrowroot biscuits, the brand with the smiling baby on the box: enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate [Vitamin B1], riboflavin [Vitamin B2], folic acid), sugar (beet and cane), partially hydrogenated soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, arrowroot flour, cornstarch, soy lecithin (emulsifier), salt, leavening (baking soda).

High fructose corn syrup. Higher on the ingredient list than arrowroot.

Enough said.

Today I'm passing along to you two healthy and delicious arrowroot cookie recipes shared by readers of The Perfect Pantry. These cookies aren't just for kids; they're perfect with afternoon tea, and, because arrowroot is easily digestible, a cookie or two will help to settle your stomach after a long day of writing and revising.

Arrowroot cookies

Traditionally made for Chinese New Year, these cookies come directly from the source -- Melting Wok's mom.

Ingredients

2-1/2 cups arrowroot flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 large-sized egg yolk
120ml (4 oz) coconut cream or thick coconut milk

Directions

Place the arrowroot flour on a paper towel, put it in microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 1-2 minutes. Set aside and let it cool. (The traditional way is to fry the flour in the wok or roast it in the oven.) Tip: Also microwave extra arrowroot flour for later, just in case you need to add more if the dough is too wet to knead.

Sieve the arrowroot flour and sugar into a big bowl. Add the melted butter, egg yolk and coconut milk. Knead until the dough is pliable. Tip: If the dough is too wet or too soft, add more flour, little at a time and knead until the dough gets more firm. If the dough is too dry, add more coconut milk.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of your liking, preferably about 1/4-inch, and cut into shapes with a cookie cutter. 

Arrange on a lined baking tray. I would use the silicone sheet (Silpat or similar). Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes.

Other useful tips: Make sure the dough is not too wet, otherwise it won't hold the shape. How does one know? Sometimes when you roll the dough out and cut it with a cookie cutter and place it on the baking tray, the shape disappears before your eyes. If this happens, add a little more arrowroot flour and knead it again. If the shape holds, you are good to go.

End Result: Crispy on the outside, and melts in your mouth when you bite into the center.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


Also in The Perfect Pantry:

Beef stir-fry with bitter melon
Slow-cooked beef and green chile stew
Poppy seed torte
Asparagus-cashew stir fry

Comments

Is this right? ... Your Penzey bottle (2.5 oz) would be enough for maybe 1/6 or 1/8 of the first recipe for cookies, which calls for 2.5 cups of arrowroot flour. And not enough for the second recipe either, if my arithmetic is right. Can you buy arrowroot flour in the needed quantities?

Yes, blogging has allowed us to reach out to many wonderful ideas, people and inspirations. Bloggers have kept us in check and honest. Boy, we've been caught way too many times with typo mistakes!
These arrow root cookies seem so simple! We'll have to try it!

Very cool post. Very cool ingredient. Very cool cookie recipes. Thanks!

Paz

Very interesting. I've used arrowroot for thickening things, but somehow I didn't connect it with the cookies!

Here's a question for you. Sometimes if I thicken a savory sauce, I don't like the extra shininess of arrowroot, but I do like the low-glycemic quality it has, as opposed to cornstarch. How do you think it would use to combine the two with water and then thicken? Could you get the best of both worlds that way?

Mae, you can definitely buy arrowroot by the pound, either from Penzeys.com (it's approx. $8/pound) or any store that carries Bob's Red Mill products.

WORC, Paz: these are two easy cookies that have nothing but good-for-you ingredients!

Kalyn, I've never tried combining cornstarch and arrowroot in the same dish. Will you try it and let us know? And, for the amount of savings in carbs (usually when you use this as a thickener, the quantity is not more than a tablespoon or two), is it worth trying to mix the two? Please let me know what you discover.

Great info on arrowroot. I was always hesitant to use it because I was not quite sure how. But this post gives me encouragement.

I would never have thought to use arrowroot as the main ingresient in a cookie!

I'm really bad at proof reading my own work, fine with anyone elses work, but with my own I see what I think not always what is actually there! ;)

This is still a stranger to me. Have never tried anything arrowroot so far. So this makes a very informative post for me.

The next on the list of YUK ingredients is the partially hydrogenated fat. Another good reason for home cooking!

Thanks -- sounds like a possible Whole Foods purchase! I'm interested in that recipe -- I have fond memories of the taste. I wonder what the Nabisco Arrowroot Biscuit recipe was in my childhood. Of course they were for "babies" so if we liked them we weren't allowed to have very many.

I have always wondered what to do with this becaseu of it's unusual name-now I know! And yes, isn't blogging grand-linking to other pages and posts, daily updates-such a great medium!

I heard the Koreans use arrowroot to make noodles and have them - cold arrowroot noodles, in summer.

This is a new product for me, how interesting! The cookies sound great!

Lydia, I also remember when I worked at a PR firm (only a short time), thought I had eyes as sharp as eagle's, but typo only appeared after the articles printed out, damn it :)
Love that Chinese cookie recipe, can't wait to try!

Veron, perhaps a whole new line of baked goods for your lovely new business....

Kelly-Jane, that's why there are professional proofreaders, because we all do the same thing -- see what we want to see instead of what's really there.

Kate, I use arrowroot as a sauce thickener most often; it doesn't have an aftertaste and gives a nice sheen.

Susan, you are soooooo right. Amazing that they promote these as being good for babies, isn't it?

Mae, that's an excellent point. I'm sure the formulation has changed over the years, as the use of HFCS has become more widespread. It's a shame, really, that products that were once healthy are now things we should avoid. (not all arrowroot biscuits have HCFS, of course -- but Nabisco, which is the one in every supermarket, does.)

Rebecca, although I keep both arrowroot and cornstarch in my pantry, I use arrowroot much more often. And your son might really like these homemade cookies!

Tigerfish, that's new to me, but being a noodle-holic, I will surely learn more about this!

Amy, I've made the more traditional cookies, and they are delicious.

Gattina, I never get used to seeing those horrible typos appear in print under my name. Each one hurts!

What an interesting recipe Lydia!

Hi Lydia,

I just purchased arrowroot a few weeks ago, and I'm delighted to hear that I can use it for Passover! I'm presently pulling together healthy recipes for Passover to blog about, so this is great news.

I just love your blog, by the way. I have been building a pantry for over a year now and I'm finally at a place where I can pick up just about any recipe and make it without going to the grocery store.

Best,
Karen
www.testdrivekitchen.blogspot.com

The word "cookies" makes me smile already, Lydia - more cookies for me to bake!

I will look for Bob's Red Mill arrowroot, these cookies look delish and while I've never had the baby biscuits, I've always been tempted- As for typos- some I find charming/ just makes me think of us fallable human beings!

I mean fallible- see what I mean!

Stella, these really have a melt-in-your-mouth quality. I guess that's why they're so good for babies.

Karen, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. I'll be watching your blog for Passover recipes.

Patricia, I wonder if there is a recipe out there for a chocolate arrowroot cookie.....?

Callipygia, I'm laughing! And arrowroot cookies aren't just for babies -- they're pretty delicious the rest of us, too. Enjoy!

These sound positively divine.

Hmm, I've never done much with arrowroot. These recipes do look good, though. I guess I should pick some up!

IRONY: the grocery store where I shopped yesterday had a huge rack of Bob's Red Mill baking flours: rye, barley, ground hazelnuts, teff, quinoa, various wheat blends, muffin mixes, all sorts of things. You guessed it: no arrowroot! Well, next time I'm at Whole Foods, I'll try again.

Peabody, hope you'll try one (or both)!

Fearless Kitchen, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. Arrowroot is one of those things that isn't too common in the modern pantry, but I've found many uses for it.

Mae, that's so unfair! If you can't find it in the stores, you can order directly from Penzeys and buy by the pound, which will give you enough to make either of these cookies.

I've only just started encountering arrowroot in some of the things I've been reading, but have never tried it yet. It sounds like something I'll need to experiment with since cornstarch always seems to leave leftovers looking far less appealing than they should. And the cookies sound delicious!

Mike, I think both cornstarch and arrowroot will make leftovers a bit gummy, but when heated, sauces thickened with arrowroot have a more pleasant appearance. I just saw a one-pound bag of arrowroot at our local Job Lot (discount store) today for $4.79; if you're going to do any baking, that's the way to purchase it.

thanks for the base on these cookies I modified them to be gluten free.

Works with tapioca starch too. I ran out of arrowroot after I tried the first recipe and substituted for the second round. Both tapioca starch and arrowroot powder are cheap in ethnic markets - I paid under a dollar for 400gr (14oz) for both - that's about 3 cups.

Makes a great refrigerator cookie (log & slice) for the lazy.

This is now my base gluten-free cookie dough recipe. Multiple variations & add-ins.

If you substitute icing sugar for granulated sugar, the cornstarch seems to make quite a difference in texture - more like a North American cookie texture. And it's not so sweet.

Substitute whipping cream for coconut - then you can make:

Chocolate wafers - just like Christie's chocolate wafers - equal parts cocoa powder and arrowroot or tapioca flour and change the granulated sugar to icing sugar. Use whipping cream instead of coconut cream and adjust liquid amount as needed. The cornstarch in the icing sugar seems to make a big difference.

I've just made Marcia's cookies recipe (THANKS MARCIA!) and the cookies are really delicious, very crispy and they melt easily (my 9 months baby loved them!). The only thing, I have tasted a weird aftertaste. Also I've found arrowroot starch at HEB at 3.99 per lb in the bulk dept.

This is great for me, I have Celiac, & can't use any flour. Unfortunately, I am also allergic to coconuts. Please tell me what is a good substute for the coconut milk?

Also, I thought you said you had 2 recipes. Did I miss the second?
I brought a package of "arrowroot cookies" from an asian store, but they do not use arrowroot at all. They are using a flour made from the leaves of the plant that gives us tapioca, which I am also allergic to.

S Kuster, I'm not an expert on baking or on specific food allergies, so I don't know if soy milk would be a good substitute for you. You might leave this question on a gluten-free or dairy-free baking blog. If you click through to the printer-friendly recipe, you'll find both recipes.

Hi, I just found your page, while looking foot arrowroot, and now I find your site to be fabulous. I have Crohn's Disease, my entire colon and about half of my small intestine has been removed due to the disease, and of course I have dietary restrictions and pain associated with lack of the full flora and fauna of a healthy digestive system. I also have an illiostomy bag, which can cause havoc at times, esspecially if I get diarrhea and/or gas, since I have a liquid stool to begin with. Anyway, arrowroot has helped me through many painful days. Thank you for you post on it. As a neurosurgeon I, more than other Crohn's sufferers need to be in top performance, and arrowroot in biscuit form helps ease GI pain and helps with the other GI distress. No time to have to empty a full Ostomy bag during a brain or spinal surgery. Thank you for this recipe, it has worked better than commercial cookies I have purchased. Since arrowroot is gluten free, I have an easier time digesting it (although I am not allergic or sensitive to gluten), the arrowroot also helps with GI problems (those listed above and also with GI pain) quicker and without medication, and their unwanted side effects from narcotic pain relievers that can damage judgement if I need to operate while going through GI issues. I made one change, since I am not fond of coconut, so I substituted original flavor almond milk. I might try using vanilla or chocolate almond milk for a change in biscuit flavor, since the original worked so well.
Thank you. Dr. Stephanie Desiderio Ph.D., M.D.

I made Marcia's Arrowroot Cookies the other day. I made them substituting 1T ground flax & 3T water for the egg. I used a pastry wheel to cut the rolled out dough into biscuits.

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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