These biscuits are delicious! Crunchy, chocolatey, rich and rounded caramel flavour, they are light and crisp and decidedly moreish.
They are, perhaps a little surprisingly, also free from gluten and dairy products.
I made these for a friend who has dietary restrictions and have such a wonderful texture and taste, I didn’t want to label them as “allergy only”, since this tag can be offputting.
These biscuits are everything you’d want in a biscuit, they just happen to be gluten and dairy free.
My own priority as regards recipes and food in general, is flavour; how a dish tastes. Which is probably why my presentation has a tendency to veer towards the C-minus-could-do-better grade. (I’m working on it!) If a dish tastes good, you can always improve the appearance to make it look attractive, but if it tastes mediocre or bland, then all the bells and whistles in the world aren’t going to make it a success.
Apart from being common sense, this attitude probably stems from an experience I had, back in the mists of time, whilst backpacking in Nepal. (Bit of a crunching of the gears, topic-wise there, but try to keep up.) Kathmandu used to be something of a culinary beacon in the old overland backpacking route, since after months of rice and dal, weary travellers were treated to shimmering visions of mile high cakes and gateaux and froths of pie confections to entice the palate. Whilst in Pokhara, I was tempted by a stunning display in a tea shop and opted for a slice of their magnificent layered cake. Alas, the analogy of a mirage proved all too accurate, since it turned out to be all style and no substance. Sawdust-textured cake and greasy buttercream, it was as if someone had made it from a picture, with no reference to how it was supposed to taste. Quite possibly, this is exactly what happened. It served to emphasise to me, the importance of taste. It’s food, not art. It all looks the same in your stomach. So make the effort with taste, not appearance.
OK, maybe make a little effort with appearance; we’re not completely uncivilised.
For the batch of biscuits in the photo I used dairy-free chocolate chips I found online, but I have also made these by chopping up the dairy-free chocolate bars (see pic below) I found in Morrisons (also available in Sainsbury’s and Waitrose).
Chocolate Chip Biscuits
This recipe has been adapted from Alton Brown’s Good Eats recipe, to make it dairy-free and suitable for use with ingredients available in the UK. I like the dark, caramel flavour that the sugars bring, but if you prefer a more delicate flavour, change the dark brown sugar to soft, light brown.
115g coconut butter
160g Doves Farm wholemeal gluten-free bread flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
30g Demerera sugar
115g soft dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
170g dairy-free chocolate chips, or bars, chopped
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Set aside.
- Melt the coconut butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan over low heat. Once melted, pour into a bowl.
- Add both of the sugars and whisk together for 1 minute.
- Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
- Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined.
- Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.
- Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour until firm.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC Fan.
- Shape the dough into 30g balls. An ice-cream scoop can help. Mine has a diameter of 4cm and makes a perfect 30g hemisphere of dough. If your scoop is large, just cut each ‘scoop’ in half and roll each piece into a ball.
- Chill again in the fridge for 15 minutes of so, to firm up. This will help keep them from spreading too much.
- Place on parchment-lined baking trays, 8 per pan. On a half-sheet (30cm x 45cm) pan, I set them out in a 3-2-3 formation. The cooked biscuits are approximately 10cm in diameter, so you want a decent 3cm space all around the ball of dough to allow for spreading during baking.
- Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the trays after 5 minutes to ensure even baking. If you’re baking 2 trays at a time, be sure to swap the baking trays between shelves as well as rotate them. If you like your biscuits chewy, you should try a test bake with just once biscuit and a shorter cooking time. Remember to allow to cool before you taste as they do crisp up when cold.
- Remove from the oven and allow the biscuits to cool on the baking trays for 5 minutes to firm up.
- Move the biscuits to a wire rack and cool completely.
- Store biscuits in an airtight container.