Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Chocolate biscuits with a zesty, caffeiny and crunchy kick

Espresso beans and orange chocolate biscuits

Hello everyone. I originally intended to post once a week - which I still *want* to do but, oh well, life gets in the way sometimes.
I didn't have time to bake the last weeks, so I have to use my notes on a recipe which I baked shortly before I started this blog. The reason I didn't post this earlier is just that it was only today that I rediscovered my notes under a pile of paper labelled "important stuff"... ooops. 

Right. What did I bake? Cookies. Or rather biscuits. As a German who studied Linguistics in the UK, I have my own, although somewhat vague, notion of what is a cookie and what is a biscuit. Cookies for me are chewy and/or chunky. Biscuits are smaller and crisp (though I suspect I may not be alone with this notion).

So. Biscuits. I baked biscuits. These:

They are chocolate biscuits with orange zest and not too finely ground espresso beans. And they are delicious if I may say so myself. The orange gives them a fresh twist and the ground espresso guarantees some nice, flavour-intense crunch. Overall, I was delighted by the texture. If you don't trust me, let me tell you that I brought these biscuits to my boyfriend's friend's flat-warming party which also served as a birthday party for my boyfriend's friend's roommate. In other words: a flat full of strangers. And not only did my biscuits disappear fairly quickly, but later that evening, a person I had never seen in my life came to me and said "Hey, aren't you the one who brought those biscuits? They were SO. GOOD". There you go. Unbiased strangers confirmed that these are delicious biscuits. Now you can safely bake them :)

The original recipe is by Martha Stewart - I tried baking them strictly according to the recipe once before, back in the UK. They turned out a really strange texture, weren't holding together at all and felt way too greasy. Back then, I still put them to use by incorporating the loose cookie crumbs (because they really had no cohesion whatsoever) in vanilla buttercream and thus creating heavenly (and heavy) cookies'n'cream-like frosting... I might repeat that some time and share it here.

Anyways, that's why I decided to bake them again and to adjust the recipe a bit. I also decided to add orange to make them feel less wintery (it was still summer when I baked them) (originally, I had a mind to use lemon zest, but I didn't have any at hand. It might be worth a try for the future).

What you'll need for quite enough biscuits:
(sorry, I forgot to write down how many biscuits this yielded)

  • 1 3/4 (215 g) cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 (100 g) cup Dutch cocoa powder (no added sugar!)
  • 1 good tablespoon not too finely ground espresso beans (as finely as you can manage with a mortar will be good)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks/226 g) butter (unsalted, room temperature)
  • almost a cup of sugar (almost 200 g)
  • 1 sachet of vanilla sugar (about 8 g, alternatively use vanilla extract)
  • orange zest to taste... I forgot how much I used! I used one of those sachets... probably not quite half of it?

How to do it:

1. Preheat oven to 180 °C (350 F) and line baking sheets with parchment.
2. Sift flour and cocoa powder together in a small bowl.
3. In another bowl, mix butter, sugar and vanilla sugar until the mixture is creamy and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes (use a paddle attachment for your electric mixer if you have, or whatever attachment you use for biscuit dough, in other words: not the whisk attachment used for cake dough).
4. Slowly add flour, orange zest and ground espresso beans. Don't forget to scrape down the sides now and again.
5. Take a small amount of dough in your hands, roll a ball, place on baking sheet, press down slightly. Do that until no dough remains :)
6. Take some sugar (brown, coarse sugar if you have) and sprinkle the biscuit balls.
7. Take a fork and press the balls further flat. The sugar which you just sprinkled on should prevent the dough from sticking to the fork too much.
8. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes (I baked them for 15).
9. Take the biscuits out of the oven and let them cool down completely. They will be squishy at first, not really stay in shape and fall apart when you try to pick them up - a somewhat glueless mass. But fear not! They will harden and actually become biscuits rather than heaps of crumbs.
10. Once they're cooled - enjoy :)

Yummy. Addictive espresso bean and orange chocolate biscuits from up close.

So.... what is everyone else's definition of cookies and biscuits? (And if you do post your opinion, which I would love, please tell me which country you're from! This is a linguistic survey of sorts).


  1. Us 'Merikans tend to call everything sweet like this, cookies. Biscuits are something you eat with gravy, or butter, or chicken, or all of the above.
    You silly brit!


  2. Mal... I honestly never knew that *that* is what Americans call biscuits. That's crazy! How could that be a biscuit... you have biscuits with tea! Preferably at 5 o'clock! Or basically whenever you have tea, which is like every 5 minutes...
    Weird. And interesting. Love it.