My Thursday evening English class have long served as my official guinea pigs. Now I agree that a bunch of teenage cyclists probably aren’t the most discerning of taste-testers. But mine are reasonably forthright and, while capable of inhaling their own bodyweights in baked goods, if they don’t like something, I’m left with more than just crumbs. Unsurprisingly, anything with chocolate in it scores highly and they simply love home-made biscuits and cookies.
I don’t teach the class during the summer months but I first made these biscuits with a view to getting their considered opinions during the Tour de France team time trial in Nice. Unluckily for them the cookies found favour with two current professional cyclists – ones not riding the Tour – who pretty much polished off the entire batch! I’m not sure exactly how many more kilometres on the bike were ridden to work off the surplus calories but safe to say it was plenty.
The recipe is based on one for shortbread type biscuits to which I’ve added chocolate chips – everything’s better with chocolate – and oats for sustained energy.
Ingredients (makes 24 biscuits)
- 225g (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 120g (1 cup) caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp of fine sea salt
- 275g (2⅓ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 30g (⅓ cup) oats (oatmeal)
- 100g (6 tbsp) 70% min. chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°Cfan/ gas mark 6 (400°F/350°F).
2. Line two shallow baking sheets with greaseproof (parchment) paper.
3. Beat the softened butter until it lightens. Use really great butter as it does make a difference to the finished product.
4. Beat but don’t whip in the sugar and vanilla extract then gently fold in the sifted flour, salt, oats and chocolate chips. Don’t overwork the mixture, which should be of a similar consistency to that of pastry. Indeed you can roll the mixture into logs, wrap in greaseproof (parchment) paper and freeze for baking at a later date.
5. I use a small ice cream scoop – equally you could use a soup spoon – to portion the dough and ensure the cookies are a similar size. Place the balls on the baking sheets about 1cm (less than ½”) apart, as they’ll spread slightly while baking, and flatten the tops. I found the dough made 24 biscuits, each weighing around 30g (1 oz) uncooked.
6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until they start to turn golden at the edges and they’re firm to the touch. Depending upon the size of your oven, you might need to rotate the sheets midway through the cooking process.
7. Remove from the oven and transfer to cool on a wire rack. Once cool, put them in an airtight container where they’ll keep for 3-4 days, providing you keep them out of reach of any cyclists, or enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee.
Sheree’s Handy Hints
1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.
2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the biscuits in the oven, put the timer on for five minutes less than they should take to cook and then check regularly.
3. I’ve made the biscuits with milk chocolate chips but found them too sweet for my taste.
4. I’ve successfully substituted the chocolate chips for a similar weight of fat juicy raisins.
5. The biscuits work equally well with a mixture of 50g (1¾oz) tart chopped dried cranberries and 50g (1¾oz) white chocolate chips.