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[Note: If you are unfamiliar with British food, you should know that “biscuits” are what Americans call “cookies.” American biscuits — the fluffy Southern kind — do not exist in Britain.]
Digestive biscuits are a peculiarly British invention. The brainchild of two Scottish physicians in 1839, they were thought to aid digestion because of the inclusion of baking soda, nature’s antacid. It wasn’t until the 1920s that some brilliant soul thought to add chocolate. Since then, the chocolate digestive has gone on to become Britain’s favorite biscuit to dunk in a cup of tea. This is an actual fact backed up by scientific polling. Really.
Opinions vary on whether to include oatmeal. This recipe does; therefore, so should you. What is indisputable is that digestives are best accompanied by a cuppa (tea). You may substitute coffee in a pinch, but it is not advisable. When dunking, remember that the cookies have a crumbly consistency and will fall apart easily. Hence, the optimal dunking time is 1-2 seconds.
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- ½ tsp baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 8 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp milk
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350℉. In small mixing bowl, combine flour, oat, sugar, baking soda and salt. Cut butter into small cubes, and work into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add milk and pull dough together into a ball. Turn out onto a floured rolling mat and shape into a thick disc with your hands. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Keeping the top of the dough covered with plastic wrap, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a floured mat. Using a round cookie cutter (3 inch is perfect), cut out 12 rounds, gathering and re-rolling excess dough. If you are planning to make plain digestives, you can create a pattern on the cookies using fork tines, skewers, or a blunt knife. Otherwise, wait until you have covered the biscuits with chocolate.
- Place biscuits on greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
- When digestives have cooled, place chocolate chips in microwave-proof bowl and heat in microwave for one minute. Stir to blend melted chocolate. Using a dinner knife, spread the chocolate smoothly on biscuits. With a wooden skewer, create a criss cross grid pattern on top of the biscuits for decorative effect. Refrigerate biscuits until chocolate has set, about 30 minutes.
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