These biscuits are my newest favourite, and that is due equally to the texture, the flavour(s) and the potential to vary (infinite).
They are a development of the shortbread-like Viennese Whirls, where inclusion of cornflour makes them delightfully crumbly and moreish.
Whereas Viennese Whirls are piped, these can be rolled between the palms in order to produce interesting swirly patterns as the different doughs are mixed together.
Alternatively, if neatness is important and you have a silicone small-hemisphere baking sheet, you can opt to press a mix of the dough into the holes in the sheet to make domed biscuits.
Another option would be to scatter small lumps of each dough over your work surface, use a rolling-pin to roll them into a smooth sheet with a marbled effect, and cut out your biscuits with regular cutters.
So the method you choose is whatever suits you. What IS important, is that each biscuit has a mixture of all three doughs, especially if they are also flavoured differently as well as contrasting visually .
If you like things simple, you can go: Very chocolate/mildly chocolate/vanilla – which is lovely, delicious and has widespread crowd appeal.
However, ever the tinkerer, I decided to experiment with some alternative flavour combinations the best of which I am going to share with you now.
- Very chocolate/mildly chocolate/orange: adding orange zest to the palest dough for a classic combination. Would make great Christmas baking/gifts.
- Very chocolate/coffee/vanilla: mix it up a little with a little mocha combo, ideal if you don’t want to have to choose between coffee and chocolate.
Both of these combinations I found equally delicious, but the absolute best flavour combination I put together tops all of the above (she says modestly), and it is this:
- Very chocolate/coffee/cardamom: the richness of the cocoa, the bitterness of the coffee and the heady aroma of cardamom are amazing together.
I used to drink coffee Turkish-style, flavoured with cardamom, when I worked in the Gulf, so perhaps I’m a little biased, but I strongly urge you to try this combination for a real, to quote Peter Kay, TASTE SENSATION!
Chocolate Swirl Biscuits
This makes a large quantity of biscuits, so divide the quantities in half if you think they might be too much for you, just don’t blame me when they’re all gone in two days and you’re turning on the oven at 10 o’clock at night to make a new batch.
Whichever flavour combination you choose, use the following. Each amount will flavour 1/3 of the dough quantity below:
- Dark chocolate: 2tbs cocoa powder
- Light chocolate: 1tbs cocoa powder, 1tbs flour
- Coffee: 1tbs espresso powder, 1tbs flour
- Orange: zest of orange, 2tbs flour
- Cardamom: ¾tsp ground cardamom, 2tbs flour
- vanilla: ½tsp vanilla extract, 2tbs flour
250g unsalted butter, softened
125g icing sugar
120ml vegetable oil
1tsp baking powder
280g plain flour
2tbs cocoa powder
1tbs espresso coffee powder
¾tsp ground cardamom
- Remove 3 tablespoons of flour and set aside.
- Put the butter, icing sugar, cornflour, oil and baking powder into a bowl and mix gently until thoroughly combined.
- Gradually add the flour until the mixture comes together in a soft dough.
- Divide the dough into three and add the flavourings, using the reserved flour for the two lighter doughs. If using a mixer for this, start with the lightest colour dough and finish with the chocolate, to avoid smudging the colours.
- Roll each dough into marble-sized balls. Due to the baking powder, they will grow slightly during baking, and with each biscuit being formed from six balls of dough, you want to err on the side of caution, sizewise.
- Decide on the style of your biscuits:
- If you’re cutting out your biscuits, scatter the different balls of doughs over your work area, cover with a sheet of clingfilm and roll into a marbled sheet. Use cutters of diameter 5cm.
- To make the swirled biscuits (top left and bottom right in the pic) arrange two balls of each flavour in a circle either 1,2,3,1,2,3 (top left) or 1,1,2,2,3,3 (bottom right). Gather them together until they form a drum shape (similar to biscuit on the bottom left of the pic), then roll this between your palms, with your hands moving in opposite directions, for 6 or 7 rotations until swirled together. Flatten slightly to finish. NB: I adore the swirl this produces, but a word of advice: if you are a perfectionist, do not choose this method. I made 6 or 7 batches of this dough, experimenting with flavour combinations and wotnot, and I can count the number of perfectly swirled biscuits I managed to create on two hands. I definitely got better with practice, but my husband’s work colleagues had to munch a LOT of biscuits in the process. Which is how the silicone mould method evolved, and beautifully neat and dainty top-right style is now my favourite (as well as being so much quicker).
- If using a hemisphere mould silicone sheet, proceed as above but instead of rolling the dough between your hands, press it into the mould (bottom left). For the biscuit pictured top right, put the balls of dough in pairs, then arrange them side by side, like the pattern of a six on a dice. Press into the mould.
- Heat the oven to 170°C, 150°C Fan.
- Arrange the biscuits on baking sheets liked with parchment, leaving space between them to allow for spreading.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes, until crisp and slightly risen. NB: If using a silicone mould, the biscuits may take a little longer, as the silicone shields most of the biscuit from the heat. Before removing from the oven, sample a biscuit, break it apart and check that it is cooked all the way through.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Store in an airtight container.