Discovering Biscuits

Recently I’ve been on a bit of a biscuit making kick. It started with the cookies I blogged about not so long ago and has grown from there. All this baking is like rediscovering my childhood, I was always making cupcakes, crispy cakes or pie pastry with my mum and granny. There’s something very satisfying about knowing that from such simple ingredients you can make almost anything, usually in far greater quantities than you intended. Those ingredients stretch a long way.

If you care about all your biscuits being the same, uniform in shape and size, then you’ll need to get one of those shape cutters, I don’t even own scales, so I’m not about to start caring what shape they come out of the oven in. These are now officially Paul’s favourite biscuits, the best thing about them is they can be as chocolatey as you like. I’ve already made a variation on this recipe involving chocolate chilli buttons and intend to make them with orange zest in the next few weeks to create a sort of chocolate orange biscuit.

Okay, so how did I make these?

You will need two sets of dough, chocolate and vanilla.

The Vanilla Dough
175g plain flour – 1 and 1/2 cups (for those of us without scales)
75g icing sugar – 2/3 a cup
125g butter – do it by eye, most packets are 250g so roughly 1/2 of that
vanilla pod seeds, or a little bit of vanilla extract

The Chocolate Dough
150g plain flour – 1 and 1/3 cups

25g cocoa powder – 1/4 a cup
125g butter – roughly 1/2 of a packet
And just to offset the bitterness of the cocoa powder (but not too much) a tablespoon or so of icing sugar, you be the judge.

Get the block of butter out of the fridge, divide in half. Cut each half into cubes, this will make it so much easier to handle later. Now go and have a cup of tea.
Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, grease and line an oven tray with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.

By this point the butter will be soft enough for your needs. Take all your vanilla dough ingredients and put them in a bowl, then rub together until the mixture becomes a dough. Take the dough out of the bowl and put it to one side.

In the same bowl (no point in adding to the washing up) put together all of your chocolate dough ingredients and as before rub together until it becomes a dough.

Now you’ve got two doughs, yay. Roll each dough out into a square that’s about 1cm thick (your baby finger is probably 1cm thick) and press one dough on top of the other, brush with a little water to make sure it sticks. Cut that in half and press one half on top of the other, you’ll now have four layers of dough, stripy.

The striped part of the dough will be the top of your biscuit so cut it up accordingly, making each biscuit roughly bigger than the size of a domino. Place your dough on the baking tray and put them in the oven for 25 minutes. All ovens are different so keep an eye on them, you’re looking for the vanilla dough to go slightly golden, the texture of the biscuits should not be too soft or they’ll just fall apart but be careful you don’t cook them for too long.

While they’re cooking you might consider melting some dark chocolate and white chocolate to drizzle over them once they exit the oven. This is optional and I will warn you the texture of melted white chocolate is not what you expect it to be, but it will set back to normal once left to stand on the biscuits.

This tends to make enough biscuits to fill a large tin, they’ll probably last you a month (less if children are involved).

This recipe is roughly based on Chocolate harlequin biscuits, having mutated through use to reflect my wants and needs.