No, I’m not bad at spelling. I am terrible when it comes to biscuits. I can take care of a sourdough, no problem; I can drum up a recipe off the top of my head for using up fruit in the fruit bowl; hell, I can pass honest and informed judgement on a proper Cornish pasty. But biscuits? They’re not my forte.
It’s one of the things that’s held me back from ever applying for Bake Off: the knowledge I’d be that forgettable person who presents Paul Hollywood with a teetering pile of misshapen, rock-solid playdough-esque monstrosities, baked to a cremated crisp. Out in week 2. No book deal, no flowers, not even a few hundred extra Twitter followers.
So, this week is Biscuit Week on the Great British Bake Off, and I was determined to try.
‘What are your favourite biscuits?’ I asked my girls, and the OH. ‘Chocolate hobnobs!’ came the resounding reply from all corners.
(‘But also fig rolls!’ piped up the OH in a follow-up message. Sometimes I think he dropped through a portal from the 1890s into the present day.)
Chocolate hobnobs. Easy. Right?
Who knows teatime treats better than anyone? Swedish folk. I got given a Fika book for my birthday last year; beautiful and deeply Scandi, but I hadn’t properly delved into it like I did today. Sure enough, there was an oaty biscuit recipe in there, which I put my heart and soul into. And geuss hwat? These Havreflarn med Choklad are just like hobnobs.
Have a go!
PS. The guidance below on neatening up the edges of your biscuits is a really useful tip I learned after years of making rubbish, splurgy concoctions, and is super handy at Christmas when you’ve got decorative biscuits coming out of your ears.
Homage to Chocolate Hobnobs
(makes about 15 biscuits, with offcuts)
150g porridge oats
1 tblsp plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g soft brown sugar (this gives the ‘golden’ flavour and snappiness that lots of people love about hobnobs)
100g unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate
2 silicone baking mats, or baking paper
A food processor or mini blender
Circular cookie cutters
- Preheat the oven to 175 degrees
- Pulse the oats briefly in a food processor until they’re fairly fine, but not totally ground to powder. You still want some semblance of oatiness there.
- Cream together the egg and sugar until you’ve got a pale, runny batter.
- Combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl and add the batter.
- Meanwhile, give the butter 15-20 seconds in the microwave to fully melt it. Stir in the oats, and then combine with the batter/flour mixture.
- Drop big teaspoons of mixture onto the silicone baking sheets – keeping them well-spaced (it’s not a crisis if they merge when baking; we can fix that)
- Wet your fingers and press the mixture on each biscuit down to gently flatten and even them out
- Bake for 6-10 minutes, checking after 6 minutes at regular intervals. When ready, the biscuits will be golden brown and (most likely) splurged together.
- Remove from the oven, and while the biscuits are still hot (and therefore still malleable), press the cookie cutter into the centre of each biscuit, to create a perfect circle. Try and go all the way through, but don’t separate the edges from the biscuits at this stage.
- Leave to cool completely, then separate the biscuits from their edges, saving (or eating) the offcuts.*
- Meanwhile, bash up the chocolate and melt it gently in a bowl over some hot water.
- Try different variations of spreading the chocolate over or across your biscuits. My favourite method was rolling them through the chocolate like a wheel – it neatened the edges and meant the chocolate wasn’t too full-on. Holding the biscuit flat and dunking it face first in the chocolate will give the chocolate that characteristic ‘McVitie’s’ pattern when you pull it away (you’ll see what I mean!)
- Leave the biscuits to set, and enjoy with a cup of tea.
*Keep the offcuts in the freezer – combine with a crumble topping or broken up over vanilla ice cream. So good.
Recipe adapted from page 35 of Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall