I have to apologise. I am a tragically simple man. There are many things in life that go over my head and beyond my grasp, that make me feel afraid and inadequate. I don’t talk much and that gives people the impression that I am more intelligent than I really am. But the real reason I don’t say anything is that most of the time I can’t think of anything to say. I think this is the main reason why most of the recipes I write about are so complicated, with great lists of recipes and equipment. I am desperate to impress you see; it’s so very sad but so very true.
But it’s not entirely my fault. You see much of what I know about baking I gleaned from one overshadowing source. A culinary repository more feared and all encompassing than even the mighty Delia herself. I speak of course of none other than the blasphemous Crumbranomicon: The Baking Book of Doom! You may recall me speaking of it briefly before… but I shall not elaborate too much on its full horrors at this juncture – you are still not ready.
Suffice it to say that each one of my recipes carries at its heart a small nugget of that terrible tome inked by Dai Kneading, the mad Welsh baker whose soul now lies in perpetual torment as it broils forever in Satan’s very own AGA. But I would never, ever, ever reproduce an actual recipe from that book undiluted. Goodness me, are you kidding? If I did that then each person on the planet would gain over 2000 pounds in weight instantly from merely reading the recipe. The bulk of the Earth would be tipped past a point of critical mass and our whole world would collapse into a black hole, and thus would end any hope of me ever getting a girlfriend.
So today let us try making some biscuits, some nice dunkers for our Earl Grey. What could be simpler than that?
NOTE: This recipe makes approximately two dozen sandwich biscuits.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
For the Biscuits
- A large bowl
- Several small bowls
- An electric mixer
- A stiff rubber spatula
- Several smaller spatulas (you can never have too many spatulas)
- Cling film
- A big knife
- A rolling pin
- A round crimped edge biscuit cutter – 2 inch (5cm) diameter
- Silicone or baking paper
- A large baking tray
- A cooling rack
- 190 grams of plain flour
- 40 grams cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
- 115 grams of butter at room temperature
- 170 grams of caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste
For the butter cream swirl filling
- A large bowl
- An electric mixer
- several small bowls
- Lots of spatulas
- A Lakeland Duo Colour icing kit (or if you don’t want to be too fancy just a regular icing bag with a nozzle of your choice – I would recommend a No. 195 tip)
- 70 grams of butter at room temperature
- 100 grams of dark chocolate
- 2 tablespoons if icing sugar
- 70 grams of butter at room temperature
- 75 grams of white chocolate
- 2 Caramac bars (60 grams)
Or if you don’t want to get too fancy with a swirl, you can choose just to make either the chocolate or caramel butter cream. Just remember to double the quantities for your choice of filling so that you have enough for all the biscuits.
For the biscuit dough begin by putting all the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder) in a medium bowl. Mix them together and then set them aside:
In a large mixing bowl beat the butter with your electric mixer. Add the sugar and mix together until you have a light, pale mixture:
Add the egg and mix thoroughly until you have a smooth creamy mixture.
IMPORANT NOTE: You will notice that in the picture below there are two eggs in the bowl. That is because at the time I was making this recipe I needed four dozen biscuits – don’t ask me why; it’s private. So I doubled all the ingredients. However, the recipe I am giving you is for 2 dozen biscuits only, because I am willing to bet that you are not as sad as I am. So one egg will suffice:
Tip in the dry ingredients and start to fold them in. When the mixture is partly combined add the vanilla paste and continue to mix until you have a firm dough. I find that waiting until the last possible moment to add the vanilla will optimise its flavour – otherwise it tends to be drowned out by the chocolate:
Turn out the dough onto a sheet of cling film and wrap it up tightly. Enclose the dough ball in a layer of tin foil and place the whole thing in the fridge to set for at least two hours, or preferably overnight:
Time has passed, and your ball of dough is now nice and firm.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4.
Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Slice up the dough into manageable pieces with your big knife:
Roll out a segment of dough between two sheets of cling film to a thickness of about 5 millimetres and then cut out biscuit rounds with the crimped side of you 2 inch biscuit cutter:
Lay out the rounds onto the baking paper on the baking tray and then bake the biscuits in the oven for around 10 minutes until the edges have firmed up. Slide the biscuits onto a wire rack to cool. Repeat the process until you have used up all the dough. Try to aim for an even number of biscuits as you will need two to make each sandwich. If you have a spare biscuit left over just go ahead and scoff it – I won’t tell:
Set the cooled biscuits aside in a safe place (out of reach of greedy fingers) while you get on with making the butter cream swirl filling.
Now as I have already said, you don’t really need to make the swirl version of the butter cream; you can make a single flavour if you wish. The only reason I chose to do it this way was because I had acquired a Duo colour icing kit from Lakeland and I wanted to try out my new toy.
We’ll begin with the chocolate butter cream. As always make sure that your butter is soft at room temperature. If your butter is cold then there is high risk that the mixture will curdle when you add the melted chocolate.
Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave and set it aside to cool slightly. Beat the butter in a bowl until pale. Add the icing sugar and mix until well combined. Add the melted chocolate and mix until everything is glossily melded together:
For the caramel butter cream follow exactly the same process except melt the white chocolate and Caramac bars separately. This is done because the Caramac bars melt more quickly than the white chocolate and we don’t want them to burn. The Caramac is there for flavouring, while the white chocolate is present to add a firm body to the mixture, otherwise it would end up being too soupy if you just used Caramac on its own:
Now, this duo icing kit. I was really seduced by the picture on the box; it looked really pretty. However, now that I have tried it, I have mixed feelings. It’s okay, but I personally found it a bit fiddly to assemble. Also you need to be very careful to get each of the two differently flavoured mixtures to the same consistency. Otherwise one flavour will come out of the bag quicker than the other and you will end up with an uneven distribution. Feel free to buy one and try it for yourself; perhaps you will find it easier to work with than I did. But personally I feel you can get just as good a result with a regular piping bag and just alternate spoonfuls of the two flavours when you are filling the bag. Or you could go for an easy life, simply make a single flavoured butter cream and dollop it on with a spoon:
Whichever method you choose, divide your biscuits into pairs. Place a quantity of butter cream onto one biscuit and the sandwich it together with its partner. Continue until you have filled all your biscuits or run out of butter cream:
And if you really want to be fancy, sprinkle on a bit of edible gold glitter. Why the heck not? You can never have enough sparkle.
Now put the kettle on and get dunking, gorgeous!
Why not experiment with different flavourings for the butter cream filling? Make the white chocolate version sans the Caramac and instead add things like peanut putter (smooth or crunchy – I like crunchy), or raspberry jam or lemon curd or flaming hot wasabi – the possibilities are endless….