Biscuit weak

Enjoy!

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.

Chocolate hobnob-style biscuits, from Crumbs and Roses

Homage to Chocolate Hobnobs

Ingredients

(makes about 15 biscuits, with offcuts)

150g porridge oats
1 tblsp plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
100g soft brown sugar (this gives the ‘golden’ flavour and snappiness that lots of people love about hobnobs)
100g unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate

Key Equipment

2 silicone baking mats, or baking paper
A food processor or mini blender
Circular cookie cutters

Method

  • 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

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