March 20, 2009

Digestive Biscuits with Almonds

I cook corned beef fairly regularly so when Saint Patrick's Day came around I wanted to come up with another food to celebrate the holiday. I saw a recipe for Wholemeal-Almond Biscuits featured as the Martha Stewart Cookie of the Day and it seemed like a wonderful twist on digestive biscuits, which I love. I wanted to use up some oat flour and thought it would give these a nudge towards being more Ireland-inspired.

The thing is...digestive biscuits always remind me of Canada. I grew up in Detroit and Ontario was a favorite place to take a day trip. We'd go to Point Pelee for swimming and to see the birds and migrating monarchs. Windsor was for the parks, ethnic restaurants and indie foreign films. When the dollar was strong we'd go shopping. What fascinated me a lot when I was young was the "exotic" items in the grocery stores. Everything with English and French on the label, the unfamiliar candy bars and the digestive biscuits. What an odd name for a tasty, almost cookie cracker. I loved bringing home a box.

So maybe I failed somewhat when it came to invoking the spirit of Saint Patrick's Day. I'll just have to make them on July 1st instead. It doesn't matter, these cookie/cracker/biscuits were wonderfully tasty. They're nutty, just a little bit sweet and the tiny hint of cinnamon is perfect. I brought some to a family get together and they were a hit served with an Irish cheese with stout. I had to make a second batch to share them here.

Digestive Biscuits with Almonds
My adaption of Martha Stewart's Wholemeal-Almond Biscuits
Makes ~30 (2-inch) biscuits

1 cup (100 grams) whole almonds, toasted
1/2 cup (75 grams) whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup (75 grams) oat flour
1/4 cup (35 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (74 grams) brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (112 grams) cold Earth Balance margarine
2 tablespoons of ice water

-Toast your almonds, here are some good instructions. The original recipe calls for skinned almonds but I used sliced almonds with the skins on for more fiber. Almond meal is not recommended because it's very hard to evenly toast already ground almonds. Instead use whole, sliced or slivered almonds. Allow the toasted almonds to cool.
-Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse to create a coarse meal. Add the flours, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Pulse again until everything is thoroughly mixed and there are no large pieces of almond. Be careful to not over process.
-Cut the margarine into small pieces and add to the food processor. Pulse a few times until there are no pieces of margarine larger than a small pea.
-Sprinkle the ice water over the flour mixture and process until the dough comes together into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 45 minutes to 1 hour. I found that with my margarine version the 30 minutes from the Martha recipe wasn't long enough.
-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
-Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out half to just under 1/4 inch thick. Use all-purpose flour to lightly dust your work surface and the surface of the dough. !/4 inch is thinner than the original recipe but I preferred the thinner biscuits.
-Cut out 2 inch circles of dough and transfer them to the lined baking sheets with an offset spatula. Space the biscuits at least 3/4 inch apart.
-Gather your scraps and repeat the rolling and cutting to use all of your dough.
-Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on the edges and bottoms.
-Cool on a wire rack.
-Serve with tea, jam and/or cheese (dairy-free or dairy). Beer and cheese wasn't bad either.

These were excellent with homemade blueberry jam I got for Christmas.
Thanks Uncle Paul!

30 comments:

VeggieGirl said...

That homemade blueberry jam is PERFECT for the biscuits!!

Heather said...

mmm. that jam looks delicious with those biscuits. and they sound like the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea :)

doggybloggy said...

the jam the biscuit it all looks good if only it didnt sound like it was curing something....LOL

DJ Karma said...

Haha! I like the name "digestive" biscuits- makes it sound so healthy and good for your bowels, which it probably is! :)

Audax Artifex said...

Your biscuits are like the ones everybody eats in Australia. Your photography is becoming very professional and your corned beef recipe is to die for. Looks like the house to getting close to being finished.

Laura said...

Those look fantastic!

5 Star Foodie said...

yum - these look so wonderful with the homemade blueberry jam!

breadchick said...

My grandmother would bring me home milk chocolate covered digestives when she visited family in England. Now, I always have some in the pantry. I'm can't wait to try these.

joey said...

A gal after my own heart, this recipe looks like a keeper! Enjoy this magical weekend ... I've been thinking of you :)

Marianne said...

Do you not have digestive biscuits in the States? I never knew that - I thought everyone had those. My grandma loves them, we'd always have them when we visited my grandparents place :) The ones dipped in chocolate on one side are pretty spectacular as well.

Nina Timm said...

I could not believe that you used margarine...these cookies look so rich...almost like wholemeal shortbread!!

Donna-FFW said...

These look absoltely wonderful. I dont think Ive ever made anything like these. I actually have all ingredients on hand. May have to try with the beer and cheese version. They look delectable with the jam though.

Sophie said...

MMMMMMM....Maggie!!! Yum yum yum!! I bake a lot with margarine too!! I just love it!!!

Dawn said...

I love these and do try to eat them a few times a month; I should make my own, but I buy them at whole foods. yours came out perfect I must say.

Laurie said...

I have never heard of these but I love baking with almonds.. they must be wonderful! And the black forest cake.. wow, stunning!My sister is now looking for dairy free recipes, I'll send her this way. :)
Ciao,
http://www.examiner.com/x-4182-San-Diego-Cooking-Examiner

Cookiemouse said...

Simply awesome cookies! Cookiemouse loves these.

Ricki said...

I've bookmarked this recipe and CANNOT WAIT to try it! I love digestives. I went to university in Windsor and visited Point Pelee a few times--all I remember is a lot of beach and a lot of birds!! So nice that you have positive Canadian memories. :)

Daily Spud said...

Well, digestive biscuits are a pretty common thing over here in Ireland, even if they're not quintessentially Irish :) As long as you've got the Irish cheese and stout to go with them, who cares!

Jen Schall @ MyKitchenAddiction.com said...

Your biscuits look delicious! I have a friend who cannot have dairy, so I will pass along your site to him. Great ideas!

Lori said...

These look fantastic. I want to make these! I looked at Marthas version and I definitely like your better.

Sweet Charity said...

I love digestives- in high school they were my best friend's favorite cookie and a staple in our diet. I've never tried making them before, and this recipe looks great!
I remember the first time I went grocery shopping in the States. I went to an Albertson's b/c it was closest to where I was staying. Can't say that it seemed exotic, though I remember being really freaked out by how much packaging there was... I mean, even apples were cello-wrapped on styrofoam trays... Luckily, I found an awesome co-op for my second American shopping experience- so much better!

shellyfish said...

I love digestives!!! I can't wait to try these. I too grew up on the Canadian border and I remember when I was very little that the US dollar was stronger than the Canadian and we did so much of our shopping on the Canadian side. My favourite "treat" were Vinagar chips and Rose Tea.

Amanda said...

Yum..the blueberry jam on the almond cookies looks amazing. With only 1/3 cup of sugar these must be only lightly sweet which suits me just fine. I felt Irish reading your post so mission accomplished!

Esi said...

Digestive biscuits remind me of tea with my family. They look so good!

Teanna said...

Digestives?! I LIVED off of those when I did a semester in London! They were dipped in chocolate and the perfect cookie! And now I can make them at home!!!!!!!!!

Bread and Jam said...

I would love to make these! I really enjoy biscuits like this with tea and the almond flavor sounds nice. Have you ever seen whole-meal flour in the states? I remember everything I ate in Ireland was made with wholemeal and here in Michigan I'm only able to find whole wheat. Is it the same? My brown bread doesn't turn out like the kind I had in Ireland and I always wondered if it was the flour over here.

Sweetie Pie said...

What an original way to celebrate! They look really really good. I wish I had some to go with my cup of tea right now!

stephchows said...

MMmmmmm anything with almonds makes me happy :) These look great!

Maggie said...

Thanks everyone!

Marianne: Back when I was younger you couldn't find digestive biscuits in the states. Now you can find Carr's wholemeal biscuits and occasionally a box of digestives but I haven't ever seen a box of chocolate dipped ones. I have to give that a try!

Bread and Jam: UK wholemeal and US whole wheat are "supposed" to be the same thing, but from what I've read Irish wholemeal is usually ground coarser and is made from soft wheat. Soft wheat flour=cake/pastry flour, hard wheat flour=bread flour. You should be able to easily find whole wheat pastry flour which is made from soft wheat but it is typically ground very fine in the states. King Arthur Irish-Style Wholemeal Flour would be the closest since it is soft wheat and coarse ground but you could also try West Wind Milling. This is a Michigan mill that has a soft whole wheat flour called Sweet Pea Pastry Flour that might be a little coarser than the whole wheat pastry flour you can buy in the grocery stores. Good luck!

Paleolithic diet plan said...

Mmmm!! wow!! delicious!! i really love the taste of almonds!!