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!