This lockdown malarky has seen an increase in people baking at home, especially treats like cakes and biscuits, now that the panic buying has dropped off and people are actually able to get their hands on flour, butter, eggs, etc.
I wanted to celebrate this enthusiasm too, but not be overly indulgent and fritter away THE PRECIOUS ingredients all in one go. Also, with everyone being confined to their homes, it wouldn’t do to have huge wodges of sweet treats around the house for TEMPTING people with their WICKED DELICIOUSNESS, so I’ve been fiddling about with small batches.
Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes for coffee bean biscuits – biscuits that look like coffee beans and taste of coffee – or maybe they were ‘a thing’ some time ago and I completely missed the memo.
They looked very cute, and being something of a coffee fiend, I decided to have a go with a few of the recipes ‘out there’. My dislike of making food look like other stuff is well documented, but in this case, since it’s food looking like food, I’m making a concession.
In general, they were all pretty similar, but I felt both the flavour (more coffee oomph) and texture (more crumbliness) could be improved. More importantly the size – they all emerged from the oven as massive walnut-sized beans. I felt the size needed shrinking to something more appropriate.
These biscuits are richly coloured and flavoured, and are of a wonderfully melt-in-the-mouth texture. They are also tiny, which means they have a relatively high FQ (Faff Quotient)™ to shape. Although generally averse to this, my reasoning was you might have the time on your hands to spend fifteen minutes rolling and shaping the dough into tiny beans, and it might actually be an enjoyably relaxing task: it’s a very small batch of dough. Still, if it all gets too much, you can just abandon bean-making, cut the dough into matchsticks and be done.
After trying a batch, if the biscuits are too crumbly for your tastes, you can add a little more flour to firm up the dough. Also, you can tweak the taste by adding in other flavourings – e.g. orange (zest of ½) and/or cardamom (½tsp ground).
Coffee Bean Biscuits
These are ideal with a cup of coffee, perhaps at the end of a meal. They literally melt in the mouth – my husband, who doesn’t even like coffee, was enchanted by their texture. To keep from over-indulging, be sure to keep them in an airtight box on the far side of the room, so you have to walk to the box and back (exercise!) in order to help yourself.
40g unsalted butter – softened
20g icing sugar
20ml vegetable oil
¼tsp baking powder
45g plain flour
1 rounded tbs instant espresso coffee powder
1 rounded tbs cocoa
- Mix the butter, icing sugar, cornflour, oil and baking powder together until smooth.
- Sift the coffee, cocoa and flour together, then mix into the other ingredients. The dough will be incredibly light and almost mousse-like.
- Roll the dough between pieces of clingfilm to a thickness of 5mm.
- To make beans, peel back the top layer of clingfilm and cut the dough into 1cm squares. To make sticks, cut the dough into 5mm strips.
- re-cover the dough with clingfilm and chill for 30mins, preferably 1 hour, in the fridge.
- When the dough has firmed up, roll each square into a ball, flatten slightly to an oval shape, and lay onto baking parchment. They will literally be the size of coffee beans. This is not a standing-at-the-kitchen-counter task, it’s a sitting-at-the-table-with-the-radio-on task. If making sticks, cut each strip into 5cm lengths and lay onto baking parchment.
- If making beans, use the end of a straight-ended palette knife or the back of a sharp knife to press a line lengthways into each bean to give the characteristic marking.
- Cover with clingfilm and freeze for 1 hour. Freezing will help them hold their shape during baking.
- Heat the oven to 170°C, 150°C Fan.
- Spread the frozen beans/sticks out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, 2cm apart. The baking powder will make them rise a little, so the gap doesn’t have to be huge, just enough to keep them from spreading together. If you have made the dough into sticks as well, they can go onto the same baking sheet since they will bake in the same time.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- These are very friable, especially straight from the oven, so allow them to cool for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
- When completely cold, transfer gently to an airtight container. To help keep them from breaking up, store in layers with sheets of baking parchment inbetween.