Does anyone really reach for the Digestive when presented with a biscuit tin? Not the chocolate covered, or the dark chocolate covered or even the caramel-then-chocolate covered Digestives, but the plain old ‘hello I’m an average biscuit’ Digestive. Not as weak as the Rich Tea but not as sturdy as a Hob Nob, a Digestive seems to be the middle ground ‘meh’ biscuit, the kind that rattles around the bottom of the tin with a softening Custard Cream and a broken bourbon.I’m more of a dark chocolate Hob Nob, Tunnocks Teacake and Jammy Dodger kind of girl.
The only time I ever really remember enjoying a Digestive was when there was two, a toasted marshmallow with blackened blisters forced between them, the smell of burning wood and smokey hot chocolate from the Girl Guide campfire swirling in the in the air. We sang songs cuddled in handmade blanket ponchos with various badges sewn on the front, neatly or haphazardly depending on whether your mum or you had the needle in hand. And we waited for bananas wrapped in tin foil parcels to emerge from the bin fire’s embers, burning hot squares of dairy milk sandwiched between softened sliced fruit, the texture of an overripe pear. Despite finding them an incredibly boring biscuit, I find that when conjuring memories of eight Guide camps spent sleeping in layers of pajamas and blankets in canvas tents in a field near a power station, Digestives raise a smile. Possibly because of the so-toasted-it’s-burnt marshmallow.
I think all that changed when I made homemade Digestives for the first time as part of The Little Loaf’s blog tour following the release of her first book Homemade Memories. As with most things, that handmade touch gives any sweet treat the edge on its ready-made competitor and I’ve made the recipe so many times I can do with without the book in front of me. Which lead me one Saturday afternoon to discover the alchemy of a packet of pistachios, an open bar of 70% chocolate, a scoop of coconut oil and a sprinkle or so of salt transformed the biscuit into something quite grown up that would never be the last to leave the tin.There is subtlety in the biscuit itself with freshly ground pistachios, tiny flecks of green amongst crumbly spelt flour, butter and oats mixed to a sticky dough with treacly tastes of muscovado sugar and a good dose of salt. Chocolate melts with coconut oil to create a glossy sheen for Digestives to dive into and given a final flourish with a sprinkling of pistachios chopped into a mix of dust and nuggets with sparkling with slivers of sea salt. For me, this is how Digestives should be enjoyed, homemade and with little grown up touches. Although I will always be partial to a burnt marshmallow sandwich.
- 35g pistachios
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 65g rolled oats
- 100g cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 100g spelt flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 55g light muscovado sugar
- 1-2 tbsp milk (I used almond)
- -To decorate
- 80g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 30g pistachios, chopped
- sea salt flakes
- Place the pistachios and the salt in a food processor and blitz until the nuts are finely ground. Add the oats and blitz again to a floury texture - around three to four minutes. Add the butter and spelt flour and pulse to the texture of fine breadcrumbs. Tip into a clean bowl and stir through the baking powder and sugar, ensuring there are no lumps by feeding the mix through your fingertips. add the milk a tablespoon at a time until it forms a slightly sticky dough. Wrap in clingfilm and press into a disc shape then refrigerate for 30 minutes or pop in the freezer for 10.
- Preheat the oven to 170oc/150oc fan and line two baking trays with baking parchment. Flour a clean surface and rolling pin with spelt flour then roll the dough out to 5mm and cut circles using a cutter or glass roughly 5cm in diameter. Space evenly on the baking trays and bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the trays for five minutes before placing the biscuits on a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the chocolate, melt ⅔ of the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a saucepan of simmering water. once melted, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining chocolate and coconut oil to a smooth consistency. Dip the biscuits in the chocolate mix, ensuring both sides are well coated, leaving the excess to drip off for a few seconds before placing back on the baking parchment lined trays. Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios and sea salt and leave to set. Store in an airtight container and eat within two to three days.