Baking carrot cake likely popularized during food rationing when savvy women cooked creatively for their families. In wartime especially, scarce sugar, among other ingredients, left bakers exploring substitutes and cleverly they turned to the garden. Carrots are notoriously sweet. About fifteen years ago, when the glycemic index gained influence as a tool for avoiding foods that could increase blood sugar, carrots were targeted creating confusion over the whole concept. How could vegetables be less a healthy choice than sugar? Reality proved the idea silly. Root vegetables are concentrated in carbohydrate because one of their basic functions is nutrient storage to maintain a plant’s life. So, yes, roots are sweet but phytonutrient packed sweet, obviously a stellar choice.
It makes perfect sense to bake with roots. Logic supports decreasing sugar by replacement with root vegetables. It is also a delicious way to elevate fiber, micronutrients and antioxidants. The combination of two sweet roots in these carrot burdock cookies emphasizes my Herbal Bake Shoppe vision. Purposeful baking for good taste, health, and benefit while incorporating herbs and vegetables or fruits. Bringing herbalism into the kitchen, discovering how pleasant it can be to eat plants.
I did not have fresh burdock root, only dried, so I infused it in honey to extract flavor and medicinal good, then mixed it with organic carrots from my CSA (community supported agriculture). Everyone raved about these cookies, which surprised me. But then I was happy.
In Japan, burdock root use parallels common carrots in the US. Some quick facts on burdock root: In Japan it is called gobo. This taproot resembles a long white carrot, but tastes similar to an artichoke. Perhaps the best known preparation of gobo is slicing to slivers and pickling in vinegar eaten as a side for sushi. It is also steamed as a vegetable, shredded or chopped for adding to stews, stir-fries or soups, and sliced into baked chips. A significant source of fiber and potassium, gobo has additional long history of traditional use as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and blood detoxifier. In the US, to purchase fresh gobo or burdock root, farmer’s markets or Asian grocery stores are the best bet. If dried burdock root is the only option make tea or try infusing it in honey to bake a cookie.
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