Ginger and Dark Chocolate Biscuits
February 3, 2009
So I finally got round to it, to them, to making those ginger biscuits as I promised, oh, ages ago. And what a chore it was, at first.
Not just one, or two, but three shop assistants in my local supermarket didn’t have a clue what treacle was or where it lived in the store. One sent me to Sweets where there were screaming 4 year-olds. Another said it was in Foreign Foods. Another just shrugged and carried on stacking shelves.
But I had to find it. Without treacle there would be no biscuits, no dark exotic tang, mineral-rich, straight from the Caribbean.
It was by pure happenstance that I stumbled on it underneath Cake Decorations where an immensely tall and thin woman – an academic judging by her glasses and woollen skirt – was moving slowly from one leg to the other and humming to herself. Maybe she was dancing, in a bookish, otherworldly way. I never realised Cake Decorations were that exciting. Maybe I need to get out more.
So I grabbed the red tin with the gold lion crest, Lyle’s Black Treacle, whisked through checkout and onto the Tube, which was packed. I made the mistake of listening to Leona Lewis bleeding away, which always makes me want to weep copiously, and then tried to cheer myself up with Prince ‘Strollin”. Luckily that worked. I was clickin’ my fingers, in that annoying way ipod listeners do, by the time I got in. Dumped the shopping, turned on the oven and began to heat the butter.
At which point everything changed. The warm scent of melting butter is like nothing on earth. The treacle and then the golden syrup behaved very badly and had to scooped off the spoon with my finger, which then had to be licked. And the dark 70% cocoa chocolate melted everywhere and somehow ended up all around my mouth. The smell of baking, essence of home, chocolate, ginger and molasses, filled the kitchen.
Now I know that every food writer tells you how they ‘ate the whole batch’. How they were going to save a few for their spouse but couldn’t resist them. All I can say is No Way. These are far too rich, too snappy at the edges and gooey in the middle, for that.
I had 4. OK, maybe 6. Or 7. Who’s counting? More to the point, there are still plenty left for a last minute snack before bed. And – who knows? – maybe even for breakfast.
Ginger and Dark Chocolate Biscuits
75g dark brown sugar
150g golden syrup
2tbs black treacle
300g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground ginger
50g stem ginger, finely chopped
50g dark chocolate
Set the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
Over a low heat gently melt the butter, treacle, sugar and golden syrup. When the final golden knob of butter has dissolved, turn off the heat and sift in all the dry ingredients. Stir well into a moist dough.
Add the chopped stem ginger and with a sharp knife flake in the dark chocolate. It will end up in lumps of all sizes. No matter. Lick your fingers, ‘cos they’ll need it.
I had to make the biscuits in 2 lots. For each batch, lightly butter a couple of oven trays and lay out little balls of the dough, each about a teaspoonful. Make sure they are well spaced apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
Let the biscuits cool slightly in the trays before you lift them gently out with a spatula. They will still be very moist, but crisp up rapidly as they cool.
A tip: don’t overdo the bicarbonate. I put in a teaspoonful the first time I made these, and that was overpowering.
And another tip: for really gingery biscuits, grate in a about an inch – or more – of fresh ginger. (Use the fine side of the grater. You’ll be left holding a wodge of pulp, which you’ll need to chuck.)