this week’s biscuit


The Nanowrimo challenge grinds on, and it seems to get harder every day. I am now over 30,000 words into the task and despite the pain, boredom and frustration that I experience each day, I am enjoying the process. I can’t bring myself to call what I’m writing a novel, as currently it’s just a thicket of ideas with barely a squeak of a plot, but a story of sorts is emerging. Obviously this calls for more biscuits.

These chocolate and nut bars have proved very popular with the girls too, which is a surprise as they all claim to hate nuts. The recipe is from a very old cookery book, The Cook’s Companion, by Josceline Dimbleby, which my mother gave me twenty years ago, and which I still turn to on a regular basis. These little bars can be run up in ten minutes or so as everything is made in a pan, and they take twelve minutes to cook. Although only the thickness of a biscuit, they have a slightly cakey consistency which I think means they occupy that part of biscuitdom normally only inhabited by the Jaffa Cake. They are great on their own, but brilliant with ice cream. I have used toasted hazelnuts as the recipe suggests, but I think any nuts would do.

Chocolate and Hazelnut Thins

125g butter; 25g plain chocolate broken up; 1tsp instant coffee; 75g soft dark brown sugar; 1tsp vanilla essence;  1 egg beaten lightly; 25g plain flour; 1/2 tsp salt; 50g skinned hazelnuts, toasted and chopped up.

Preheat oven to 190/375 gas 5; Butter (and I also line) a 25 x 30cm Swiss roll tin.

Melt the butter and chocolate together over a low heat, stirring all the time. Add the instant coffee and stir to dissolve. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla essence and then the egg. Sift in the flour and salt and mix until smooth.

Pour the thick mixture into the tin and spread evenly, or tilt the tin to get it to level out across the base. It will look like a very scant amount, but don’t worry. Sprinkle with the chopped toasted hazelnuts.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, turning the tin halfway through to ensure that it cooks evenly.

Leave in the tin for a few minutes before lifting to a wire rack to allow them to cool. Alternatively, eat them straight away, whilst still warm.

NB – late addition here: I didn’t bother with the 1/2 tsp of salt as I used lightly salted butter rather than unsalted.

14 thoughts on “this week’s biscuit

  1. Mmm-a cakey biscuit. Must say, I’m not a nut fan (in chocolate that is), but saw your pics and wanted to eat one straight away. Now need to go out and get a chocolate fix, or possibly get baking….

  2. I was extolling the virtues of Josceline Dimbleby to someone else the other day. She used to write little booklets for Sainsburys in the 70s, I still have one on my shelf somewhere. I recently read her book ‘Orchards in the Oasis’ which is part biography part cookery book, it is a very good read.

    • She’s great isn’t she? I don’t know why she isn’t better known – I suppose she was writing just before the whole cult of celebrity cook started. I will look out for Orchards in the Oasis.In fact this is a big hard back cookery book which she wrote for Sainsbury’s. I expect you can find it second hand somewhere. It’s very good, and has the best recipe for banana bread I’ve ever made. There is also a wonderful recipe for a chocolate cake made with bread crumbs in one of those little books – my mum made it for every family celebration from birthdays to exam results.

      • Thank you for that Charlotte, I shall have a look at Abe or Amazon. Everything she does works which is what I like. Her recipes are so fresh too.

  3. Hmm Josceline Dimbleby – I know the name, presumably no relation to David et al? The biscuits look superb, might be good with spiced apple puree – a job for the weekend, thank you

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