Saturday, November 13, 2010

Worthwhile experimentation

The basic biscuit recipe (p35) has, aside from the main recipe, five variations. I've so far tried only the the lemon biscuit variation, which resulted in a huge number of plain little biscuits. They didn't taste bad, just a bit boring, and there were so many of them that I was thoroughly sick of them by the time I'd eaten them all.

With four more variations, plus the basic recipe, still to do, I had to come up with a way of making my future attempts more interesting. If nothing else, I could halve the mixture so I didn't wind up with so many!

It didn't take me long to come up with a plan. The texture of my lemon biscuits was surprisingly crisp for a fairly thick biscuit. What if, instead of making the biscuits as flattened balls of dough, I rolled it out and used cookie cutters to make nice thin, crisp biscuits?

I set out to trial my theory on the chocolate biscuit variation. Five minutes was all it took to whip up the dough; the only hiccup was in getting the dry ingredients mixed into my creamed ingredients - it seemed like there was too much flour. Eventually I abandoned my wooden spoon and worked the mixture by hand, finishing up with a nice firm dough.

I rolled out the dough and began cutting. My first batch was not very good, as the dough was fairly moist and didn't keep its shape very easily. When I went to pick up the rounds I had cut out, they merely smeared across the benchtop. Not many rounds from this batch made it onto the baking tray - mostly the mushed up ones went back in the bowl for re-rolling.

With the next batch, I shook quite a bit of flour over the benchtop and rolling pin. This made a considerable difference in preventing the rounds from sticking to the bench, and also in making the dough slightly less sticky as it absorbed the flour.

With the biscuits rolled so thinly, I didn't think they would need the 12 minutes specified in the recipe. With this in mind, I kept a close eye on the oven, and after the first couple of trays, I came to the conclusion that 8 minutes was about right.

Soon all the biscuits were baked and cooling on wire racks. Naturally I tested one at this point, and was quite pleased with the pleasant texture of the thin, crisp biscuit. It was still quite plain, though, so I put part two of my plan into action.

I'd already tried out all three of the chocolate icing recipes in the Edmonds book, but I'd been very disappointed in how the chocolate butter icing turned out. It was very sugary and not very chocolatey. I decided to have another go at this one, with a few alterations, and use it to sandwich my chocolate biscuits together.

On my last attempt at the icing, I'd noted "more" next to the cocoa, and "less" next to the icing sugar. with this in mind, I first beat three tablespoons of cocoa into the butter, and then added only enough icing sugar to make a nice spreading consistency.

This meant that instead of using 2 cups of icing sugar and 2 tablespoons of cocoa, I wound up with an icing made up of 3/4 cup of icing sugar and 3 tablespoons of cocoa. It was much richer and more chocolatey this way, and not nearly as sweet: the perfect icing for a dark chocolate lover like myself. Considering I reduced the dry ingredients so much, I probably didn't need the full quantity of butter - but by the time I worked this out, it was too late! I'll make a note for next time.

I used the icing to sandwich biscuits together. I'm not sure if the icing will set properly, but I guess it doesn't matter much. It'll still keep the biscuits together! Now, instead of 50-odd boring little plain chocolate-favoured biscuits, I have 25 rich, decadent chocolatey treats. Sometimes you get a better result from not following the recipe too closely.


  1. They look awesome! I WANT one!
    I'm baking a Christmas cake just now. The Rich Christmas Cake in the Edmonds, with a few alterations. It smells SO good. The whole house smells of rich Christmasy goodness.
    Next I'll try the chocolate biscuits with chocolate filling! Another day, perhaps though...

  2. I'm planning to make that cake shortly - but I haven't managed to locate a 23cm square tin. I'm tossing up between my 23cm round or my 24x24.5cm tin. What did you use? And did it come out nice?

  3. I used a 23cm square glass casserole dish. I lined it a few times, and it turned out great. However, the edges of the dish weren't as high as a cake tin might be, so I had a bit of mixture left over afterwards. It wasn't enough to fill a loaf tin, so I made Christmas cupcakes with it. Yummy!!

    It said cook for 4 hours, but in our little microwave/oven device, the top of the cake would have burned if I had left it in for the full four hours, so I took it out after 2.5. It was cooked fine. Just keep and eye on it while it bakes.

  4. Thanks for the tip - I'll definitely keep an eye on it. Of course, in my oven, I'll be able to put it near the bottom, which should help. Still optimistic about finding a deep 23cm square tin - have had a tip that there's someone out at Riccarton markets who sells old cake tins. Fingers crossed!

  5. Also: Christmas cupcakes! YUM!


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