Cardamom and Orange Biscuits

While I was making these I started pondering on the difference between a cookie and a biscuit.  I think that originally cookie was the American name for what we Brits call biscuits but as we can now buy / bake cookies and biscuits in Britain I guess a greater distinction has developed.

In my mind cookies are bigger and softer and maybe rise a little whilst baking whereas biscuits are crisper and somehow flatter.  There is no science to this theory and maybe someone can put me right on the subject but in the meantime I have to decide whether these are biscuits or cookies and quite honestly I think they are somewhere between the two!

Once they have cooled they crisp up beautifully around the edge but the ground almonds ensure a softer, almost chewy centre – a combination I love.

In addition these (shall we call them biscuies or cookuits?) have a really grown up scent and flavour – the cardamom offers a strong perfume and distinct high note whilst the orange zest brings a softer, deeper undertone.  They are satisfyingly rich and sweet and one (oh go on two) will probably be enough.

This recipe is based on an original recipe from The Hairy Bikers for Cardamom and Lemon Stamped Cookies (yes cookies!).  I substituted orange zest for lemon and used more cardamom but otherwise it’s the same and I thank them for it.

Ingredients

225g / 8 oz Butter (softened)

150g / 5½ oz Caster Sugar

The grated zest of 1 Orange

250g / 9 oz Plain Flour

100g / 3½ oz Ground Almonds

1 heaped tablespoon of Cardamom Pods

Method

Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas Mark 5.

Line 2 large baking trays with baking parchment.

Place the cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle and grind roughly until the pods are cracked. Remove the seeds and discard the green pods. Grind the seeds to a fine powder. This may require some patience and elbow grease. You could buy ground cardamom but the flavour is so much better when you grind your own.

Beat the butter, sugar and orange zest together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy.

Beat in the flour, almonds and 2 generous teaspoons of cardamom seeds until the mixture is well combined and comes together to form a stiff dough.

Roll the dough into 24 evenly sized balls and space 12 out evenly on each baking tray.

Press each biscuit flat with your fingers or the flat base of a glass.

Bake in the centre of the oven (you may want to do this 1 tray at a time to ensure even cooking) for 12–14 minutes until the biscuits are pale golden brown.

Leave to cool on the tray for a minute or two then transfer to a wire rack. The biscuits will crisp up as they cool. Store in an airtight tin and eat within a week.

 

Parmesan and Thyme Biscuits

I was inspired to try these savoury biscuits by a picture I saw on Pinterest – I spend far too much time gazing longingly at food photos here (if you are also on Pinterest you can drool with me.

The photo linked back to an original recipe called Savoury Oatmeal Cookies on a food blog called “the kitchn”. I’ve tweaked it a bit and have anglicised the measurements but huge thanks for the inspiration.

These were really tasty, soft, crumbly biscuits – if I made them again I would flatten them out a little more to make them slightly thinner and crisper – they hold their raw shape really well so don’t need too much space on the baking sheet.

They are great on their own but would also make really nice pre-dinner nibbles with a G&T or act as a vehicle for some post-dinner cheese and chutney. Maybe experiment with different flavours – the original used rosemary not thyme and I suspect that the addition of some mustard powder would work well too.

Ingredients

Makes about 12 biscuits.

5 oz (150g) Oats

5oz (150g) Plain Flour

½ teaspoon of Baking Powder

2 tablespoons Warm Water

2 fl oz (50 ml) Olive Oil,

2 oz (50g) Light, Soft Brown Sugar

1 large egg – free range

2 oz (50g) Finely Grated Parmesan

1 tablespoon Thyme Leaves (stripped from the stem).

Salt & Pepper

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180°C / 350° F / Gas Mark 4

Put the oats in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the water over them.

In a separate bowl mix the olive oil, sugar and egg. Pour this mixture over the oats, stir well.

Add the flour, baking powder, parmesan and thyme. Stir well and season with a pinch of salt and a generous grinding of black pepper.

Grease and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Form small balls (approx 1 tablespoon) of the mixture and space evenly on the baking sheet. Flatten each ball to form an even disk. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on top of each.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, until the edges are slightly darkened.

Remove to a cooling rack.