When I think of butter cookies, the ones that come to mind are the fancy shaped "Danish" kind which come in a blue tin. So when I saw the recipe on the side of the Swan potato starch box for Swedish Butter Cookies, I was expecting something similar and maybe along the lines of shortbread cookies. Surprise! The cookies from the Swan box were almost identical to Nabisco's Brown Edge Wafers, which were discontinued long ago.
So What Happened to Brown Edge Wafers?
An old Wall Street Journal article from 1996 mentions them as slow selling, so I suppose that's the reason why Nabisco stopped making Brown Edge Wafers. They probably just weren't as popular as the other cookies. But now I'm wondering if maybe Nabisco will bring them back as a "throwback" item. Or maybe since they are made with potato starch, the company could re-work the recipe a bit and introduce them as a gluten-free item! Hear that, Nabisco?
For Now We Have the Homemade Version
It turns out these homemade Brown Edge Wafers are better! The potato starch is key. The recipe is on the back of the Swan' box, but here's my Brown Edge Wafers adaptation below. Of course you might as well follow the recipe on the box if it's still there. They probably alternate recipes.
Don't worry about finding other uses for potato starch, because there are many. You can use it in angel food cake, as a thickener and as a component of gluten-free flour blends.
Brands of Potato Starch & Flavors
Update: I've found another brand of potato starch called Streit's which works well. And since I posted this there are even more brands readily available on Amazon. I've only tested with Swan and Streit's, though. For flavors, people have mentioned the originals had kind of a citrus flavor. While I don't remember the exact citrus flavor of the originals, the cookies are delicious with a little Boyajian lemon oil or orange oil. Lemon zest or orange zest can also be used. Here's a photo from my latest batch. This one was made with vanilla paste and about ½ teaspoon orange zest.
Yet Another Update -- Bob's Red Mill Potato Starch
When I first started making these, I used Swan brand potato starch flour. The name is a bit confusing because it's potato starch, but they call it potato starch flour. Meanwhile, there is actually something called potato flour which is not just the extracted starch, but rather whole, dried, ground potato. So for this recipe, use potato starch. Also, I recently tested with Bob's Red Mill brand potato starch and the weight of 1 cup, carefully spooned (not packed) was 160 grams rather than 140 grams.
Gluten-Free Brown Edge Wafers
I finally got around to testing these with a gluten-free flour blend. It worked! I used the potato starch as directed, but substituted the all-purpose flour with the same weight (not volume, weight) of Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Blend. The cookies look pretty much the same and are close in texture, just slighly more gritty due to the rice flour -- not in a bad way, just in a way that you might detect if you are used to eating gluten-free cookies.
To Make a Half Batch
If you want to make Brown Edge Wafers but don't want to commit to a full batch, the recipe halves well. To halve the egg, crack it into a cup, beat it with a fork, then weigh out 24 to 27 grams or measure about 2 tablespoons.
Some Related Recipes
Brown Edge Wafers
- 1 cup butter, salted (unsalted okay, but you'll need to add ¾ teaspoon salt) (235 grams)
- 1 cup sugar (200 grams)
- 1 large egg (54 grams)
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla (See notes about flavor)
- 1 cup potato starch flour not potato flour (140 to 160 grams)**
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (127 to 140 grams)
- Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla.
- Mix together flour and potato starch flour; add to butter mixture and stir until combined. Chill dough for about an hour.
- Roll into small balls and place on ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheets. Press gently with palm of hand to flatten slightly. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes or until edges are brown.