You know those special foods your parents would give you when you were little that made you feel SO cultured and fancy? For me, the items that topped the list were Clearly Canadian sparkling water, After Eight chocolate mints, and…chocolate-covered digestive biscuits.
After all, who doesn’t love a British snack? One that’s actually a cookie but is, delightfully, labeled a “biscuit”? We didn’t have these often growing up, but when we did it was a special day, to be sure.
Fast forward to the time I actually got to spend in England: The trip our family and some family friends took back when I was in high school. The semester (and, later, month) I got to live in London’s Kensington neighborhood through a study abroad program in college, and the Christmas my family spent there a few years ago. Each visit included — you guessed it — digestives. Through the years, they’ve solidly remained in the “special” category for me, because they’re a treat I have so rarely, and so often when I do eat digestives it’s because I’m in an exciting, non-American place (we had some in Iceland on our recent trip, for example, as snacks in the car).
Fun fact: These cookies are called “digestive biscuits” because, supposedly, doctors used to think the baking soda that appeared in earlier versions of the recipe aided with digestion. I’m not sure that’s the case, but these treats ARE full of oats, so that’s a good thing. (Right? Practically a health food, these biscuits.)
And so, when I stumbled upon a Food52 recipe for digestive biscuits, I couldn’t not give it a try. Digestive biscuits made right in my very own kitchen? Yes. (I was further convinced when I read that the recipe sharer is British. ENDORSED.)
If you’re not familiar with digestives, these are cookies that are crunchy and similar to a graham cracker in that they straddle the line between a savory cracker and a sweet cookie. They’re traditionally enjoyed with a cup of tea, but I find they (like any good cookie) pair well with a glass of milk as well. Whatever your beverage of choice, these cookies are best when dunked.
Heads up: I had to hunt down a few unfamiliar (to me) ingredients for this recipe — spelt flour and dark muscovado sugar. I found them both at Whole Foods, but then later saw dark muscovado sugar (the same brand I’d found at Whole Foods) for sale at my local Harris Teeter.
Homemade Digestive Biscuits
(makes 12 cookies)
- 1 cup whole wheat spelt flour
- 1 1/3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/3 cup dark muscovado sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
- 3 to 4 Tablespoons milk
- 4 ounces dark or milk chocolate (optional, but encouraged by me!)
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats. Set aside.
- Put all of the ingredients except the milk into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the milk, bit by bit, and pulse again until the dough starts to clump together. (You may not need all the milk. I only used 3 Tablespoons.)
- Remove the dough from the food processor and knead once or twice, bringing it together without overhandling it.
- Place the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll it out until it’s about 1/4 inch thick.
- Using a round cookie cutter (or the rim of a water glass, as I did), cut out your biscuits and place them on the baking sheet. (I had to use a small spatula to carefully pry the dough off the parchment paper to keep their shape intact. Be gentle!)
- Re-roll the dough until you’ve used it all.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Chill cut-out dough for 10 minutes in the fridge.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, until just golden brown at the edges.
- Cool for about 10 minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once biscuits are completely cool, melt chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring well as the chocolate melts.
- Spoon chocolate onto each biscuit and use a knife to spread it evenly across the cookie.
- Now it’s tea time! Cheers, mate!