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Aug 2, 2011 10:59 AM

Trying to duplicate Betty's Best Cookies: "Shortbread Arare Cookies"

When we were on Oahu in April we found Wholesale Unlimited, Inc. and the Betty's Best Cookies brand. They make an Arare Crunch Shortbread cookie. We loved them and made a couple of trips back to buy more including several bags to bring home...

Purchasing them there is not expensive but buying them on the mainland is prohibitive (shipping costs...). So I've decided to try to duplicate them.

If you look at the picture of the cookies, you can see that they are not flat; rather they are almost the size of a golf ball and stand up in a nice round ball (flat on the bottom).

The arare (Japanese rice crackers) add a very yummy crunch like nuts but the saltiness from the soy sauce is a great counterpoint to the sweet cookie. (I put the arare in a zip lock and gave them some gentle whacks so they resembled chopped nuts).

Here's a link so you can see the Betty's Best cookies:

I'm not a great baker but so far have tried a Mexican Wedding cookie recipe. They stayed high and nice and round but were much more fragile than the Betty's brand. The Betty's cookies were much more durable, while still tasting primarily of butter... There was very little tendency for falling apart the way Mexican Wedding cookies tend to do.

I've searched this board and found a couple of long threads on how to keep cookies high rather than flat and will try the suggestion of using other types of flour (bread, etc.) and chilling the balls after they're formed, but I'm hoping for more suggestions.

TYIA for any help...

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  1. These definitely sound intriguing. Maybe Google recies for cookies with pretzels in them, since they're the closest thing to arare in Western food?

    1 Reply
    1. re: buttertart

      buttertart: I did a lot of googling along those lines - the ones I found all produce flat cookies from the photos included w/the recipes... I want something that stands up rather than flat. Thanks for the suggestion though.

    2. Is the texture like traditional shortbread? Less crumbly/melt in your mouth?

      What mixing technique have you been using? Creaming then mixing in vanilla and flour? Or cutting the fat into the dough, like a traditional shortbread?

      9 Replies
      1. re: Emme

        Emme: The texture of the Betty's cookies is a bit more like shortbread. Buttery, not flakey, stands up and doesn't crumble too easily.

        The mixing technique for the Mexican Wedding cookies is to cream softened butter with powdered sugar and vanilla, mix in flour bit by bit along with the arare crunchies, the way you'd add the chopped nuts.

        Do you think that cutting the butter into the dry ingredients would work better? Do you have a favorite shortbread recipe you'd share? I always think of shortbread as a dough that's patted out into a round on a baking sheet, then marked with a knife in wedges, baked then cut apart.

        Would it help if I post the actual recipe I tried?

        1. re: RWCFoodie

          Yes it would.

          I don't think the arare crumbles would have enough substance to make the wedding coolkie types firm, nuts have more oomph to them.

          My favorite shortbread is baked in an 8x8 pan but could be rolled into balls - it also has some rice flour in it and is very "short" but firm.

          1 1/4 c all-purpose flour, 1/4 c rice flour, 1/4 c sugar, 1 stick (4 oz) salted butter - I just bang everything in the food processor and let 'er rip until a dough forms (using cold butter).

          You could squish it together in a bowl though (using room-temp butter), mixing in the crumbles at the end.

          Bake at 325 deg F for about 15 mins, until light golden (the pan bakes for 25-30 mins).

          Recipe is based on "Helen Gustafson's Shortbread" from "The Fannie Farmer Baking Book" by Marion Cunningham.

          My mom's shortbread formula (from a Scottish friend) was 4:2:1 - 4 c flour, 2 c sugar, 1 c butter (can halve this of course). This makes a softer shortbread. Bake as above.

          1. re: buttertart

            buttertart: I was reading your suggestions again - when you call for rice flour, is it Mochiko or something else?

            I'm looking forward to trying your ideas as well as Emme's - I really appreciate your both taking the time to help me with this little project!

            Just a note: There's a local shop that brings in all sorts of goodies from Hawaii including fresh poi, fresh limu seaweed, Portuguese sausage (several brands), etc. for the islanders who miss their comfort foods. They carry the Betty's cookies; an 8 oz. bag was $8.95 - the shipping costs are monumental. It will be really fun if I can produce something that more closely resembles them so we don't have to pay the price at the store...

            1. re: RWCFoodie

              Mochiko, the kind that comes in the white plastic-wrapped box with blue lettering.
              I'll really be interested to hear about your experiments because the idea is very intriguing (love sweet with salt).

          2. re: RWCFoodie

            would love to see the recipe... i have some ideas about cutting in vs food processor, but would like to see where you're at. texture wise i understand you're not happy. how is the flavor?

            1. re: Emme

              Emme, here's the recipe I used:

              Mexican Wedding Cookies
              1 cup butter, softened
              1/2 cup powdered sugar
              1 tsp vanilla
              2 cups flour
              1 cup finely chopped pecans (I substituted the arare crackers broken to similar size)

              Preheat oven to 350
              Beat butter, powdered sugar and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour and pecans (arare pieces), beating on low speed after each addition until well blended.

              Shape dough into 1 inch balls (I made them about the size of ping pong balls).
              Place on ungreased baking sheet 1 to 1-1/2 inches apart.

              Bake 14-15 minutes or until bottoms of cookies are lightly browned. Cool 5 min. on baking sheets...

              Original recipe had you roll them in another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and cool completely on racks. I skipped this because it would not have been consistent with the cookie I was trying to duplicate, Betty's....

              The texture was more fragile than Betty's. The flavor was pretty good, maybe not as buttery flavored but good. I think a pinch of salt would have made them a bit more like Betty's.

              1. re: RWCFoodie

                i'd probably suggest doing it with cold butter in a food processor as buttertart suggested. you could also cut half of the flour in to the flour, sugar, and salt first. however, to reduce the crumbly tenderness, i'd use all or mostly granulated sugar instead of powdered. or even superfine. here's a recipe similar to yours that you might try (and/or sub in some coarser sugar)

                or try something more along the lines of...
                4 oz butter
                1/4 c sugar
                1/4 c brown sugar
                1 egg
                1 - 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
                1 cup flour
                1/4-1/2 tsp baking soda
                1/4 tsp salt
                1 - 2 cups crushed arare
                ...i know it's different but...

                1. re: Emme

                  Emme: Thanks - I'll have to give this a try too - with the addition of egg and baking soda, they don't get cake-like do they?

                  1. re: RWCFoodie

                    the crumb will be a bit more open, but 1 egg to 8 tbsp of butter ain't too bad... their ingredients show simply butter, sugar (not indicated as powdered -- not sure if powdered in hawaii has cornstarch in it, but cornstarch isn't on their ingre list, so i'd try granulated in your recipe first or superfine), flour and vanilla, and salt and arare crackers...

        2. Maybe you have already seen this. On the Hawaiian Electric Co website are all the recipes they have included in their monthly newsletters. One is a recipe for

          Shortbread Arare Cookies

          HECO recipes from newsletters

          1 Reply
          1. re: Antilope

            Holy cow, you're a dab hand at Google!