Idiot Biscuits

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When I was little, my best friend’s mother used to occasionally make these crumbly, dark chocolaty biscuits, and they were always a real treat. Her baking was always different to my mums, and eventually I realised that this was because she used butter rather than margarine in her baking. Butter in baking was unheard of in our house, and while I truthfully prefer baking with a good quality baking margarine the majority of the time, I’ve kept this recipe true to the original.

Not that you can’t use margarine – I think I’ve only used butter to make these biscuits once, and decided that it wasn’t quite worth the upper body workout requited to cream the butter and sugar, and immediately reverted back to margarine – however because there are so few ingredients in these biscuits, you can taste the butter when you do add it, and it elevates these from simple little biscuits to something much more decadent.

Just be sure to allow your butter to soften first, if you choose to use it.

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Helen’s mum was also the goddess who introduced me to Tiffin, so you can trust that these are delicious, for all that they are simple.

This is a great recipe to attempt with small children as it is very unfussy. No cutters are required – the dough if far too wet for that – you simply roll it into little balls and flatten them with the back of a fork. So easy, any idiot can make them – hence the rather unflattering name.

You can make them instantly more refined, and less idiotic, by adding an extra teaspoon of cocoa, flattening them with the bottom of a glass rather than a fork, and dividing the mixture into twelve slightly small biscuits instead. And give them a better name. Genius cookies, perhaps?

This is a small batch recipe, so there’s no need for a mixer, standing or otherwise. Just a bowl and a wooden spoon and you are all set.

Makes: 8 – 10 small biscuits

Ingredients:

4oz / 100g unsalted butter

2oz / 50g caster sugar

4oz / 100g plain flour

1 rounded tbsp cocoa (or heaped, but up the vanilla to a full teaspoon if you do)

½ tsp vanilla essence

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F

Grease a baking tray – you should only need one as these don’t spread very far when baking and tend to hold their shape, which is why flattening them with the prongs of a fork is so very satisfying – the striped marks remain clear even as the biscuit bakes.

Cream your fat (butter, margarine, whatever you decided to go with) with your sugar until pale and fluffy. Sift the flour and the cocoa over the top and beat in. Once the dry ingredients are combined, add the vanilla and give it a final stir – that’s it! It’s that simple.

Take a pinch of dough, about the size of a walnut, and roll between your palms to form small balls. If you struggle with consistency of size, use a teaspoon and use a heaped teaspoon of dough for each; you can always add any extra bits of dough to any that look a bit on the small side. Place these on a baking tray, about an inch apart.

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No need to be precise!

Once all the cookies are on the tray, half fill a mug with just-boiled water (if you are baking with small children you can use water from the hot tap instead, just be sure to keep an eye on things!)

Allow an ordinary dinner fork to sit in the water for a minute until warm – this will help prevent it from sticking to your biscuit dough. Once the fork is warm, give it a quick shake to get rid of any excess water, then use the back of the fork to gently press the biscuits. This is both to flatten the biscuits slightly so that they cook evenly, but also to give the biscuits their distinctive markings.

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It’s probably possible to make these look far more professional than this, but where’s the fun in that?

Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes. Allow the biscuits to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to finish cooling down.

Sprinkle with icing sugar immediately before serving.

Top Tip: Add a small handful of chocolate chips to the mix just before rolling into balls for an even chocolatier taste.

Printable PDF: Idiot Biscuits

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