Book Review – The Biscuit: The History of a Very British Indulgence

The Biscuit: The History of a Very British Indulgence
Lizzie Collingham

Tea and a biccie? The biscuit is ubiquitous in British culture (see what I did there?), but here in North America, there’s been a distortion of usage over the years. What we know in North America as a biscuit — a light, flaky, risen cake — is known as a scone in England. Crackers — a  plain or savoury, dry, flat unleavened bread, cut into equal sized shapes — are biscuits, but biscuits can also be sweet, although they’re usually still plain. And what we call a cookie isn’t really a biscuit either, cookies being thicker, softer in the centre and containing other ingredients such as chocolate or fruit. The exception to this might be the shortbread and its ilk which can be both. Confused yet? Author Lizzie Collingham will enlighten you. Continue reading “Book Review – The Biscuit: The History of a Very British Indulgence”


The flavour combination of dark chocolate, dulce de leche and sea salt is not new. You might even say it’s a bit passé, but it could also be one of those things that become a classic, like chocolate and mint.

I had wanted thimble (aka. thumbprint) cookies, but I was also craving chocolate. And when my pal David at Circles and Squares Bakery tweeted about making dulce de leche brownies, the idea hit me.

This first batch is really a prototype – I made one pan and put the caramel into the thumbprints first, before baking, as you do when making the regular version with jam. This created a big oozing mess of melted caramel. Filling the prints as soon as the cookies come out of the oven works better – it melts just enough to smooth out, without creating too much of a river.

I also used 100% cacao chocolate, because that’s what I had on hand. It’s not readily available, but I don’t think I’d go below about 80% or the cookie will be way too sweet – otherwise the amount of sugar would have to be adjusted. And, I cheated and used dulce de leche from a jar, but the caramel is not hard to make.

Continue reading “Experimentation”

Cookie Day

I have had what might possibly be the best day ever. The only thing that could make it better would be if someone were to show up at my door with a huge tray of oysters.

I hauled my butt out of bed this morning and headed to my alma mater, George Brown College, to take part in the Peace of Cake event. Every year staff, students and assorted volunteers get together and back a thousand or so fruitcakes, cookies, brownies and other treats and then package them up to be given to needy families, youth centres and the veterans in the long-term care facility at Sunnybrook hospital.

As is always the case when I leave early to give myself time to get somewhere during a storm, I arrived a half hour early. I was given an apron straight away, though, and was quickly put to work wrapping fruitcakes in saran wrap. As more volunteers arrived, I was put in charge of a group of kids from a local high school.

Many of the cakes meant for the veterans have to be diabetic-friendly, but when the baking was taking place yesterday, someone didn’t label the cakes made from Splenda properly. All that hype about how it tastes “just like sugar” is not exactly true. Sugar doesn’t make your tongue tingle.

Continue reading “Cookie Day”