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Recipe: Chocolate, Cinnamon and Orange Biscuits

Recipe: Chocolate, Cinnamon and Orange Biscuits

Ingredients

185g Fair trade dark chocolate
50g unsalted butter
1 tsp Pure orange essence (Arancio Extra Calabria)
100g ground almonds
175g Elizabethan Lammas Fayre White Manchet flour
¼ tsp sea salt
½ tsp organic baking powder
2 free range eggs
150g soft brown sugar
100g unrefreshed sourdough starter (optional - will make them more moist)
50g icing sugar
¼ tsp fair trade ground cinnamon
icing sugar to dust

Autumn brings the annual event with a grizzly origin, on 5th November we celebrate Guy Fawkes by burning his effigy on a bonfire - something for the children to enjoy it seems! Guy Fawkes was arrested alongside other members of the gunpowder plot for his part in an attempt to blow up the House of Lords and King James I with it. In response to the foiled plot, bonfires were lit around London and this has become an English festival, having developed into Guy Fawkes night.

What would be better than some warming biscuits to nibble while watching the bonfire burning on a cold November evening? This simple chocolate-rich bonfire night biscuit recipe was originally inspired by one in a favourite book of mine, Biscuit by Miranda Gore Brown. I made a few changes to suit my way of baking, by using unrefreshed sourdough starter and Elizabethan flour from the Lammas Fayre heritage range from John Letts. In the 1600s flour was not made from just one variety of wheat, spelt or rye as in general today, but instead from a diverse range of grains, giving the farmer a crop that will tolerate variable weather without all the modern instensive farming techniques. I am not suggesting that this is an authentic recipe from the post-Elizabethan era, but I think that there is a romance in using a flour blend of that period. The flour is also very flavoursome and so contributes to the taste of these delicious dark biscuits.

Method

Melt the chocolate, butter and orange essence in a small pan. Once the ingredients have just melted stir and leave to cool for a few minutes. Do not overheat.
In a separate bowl, mix the ground almonds, flour, salt, and baking powder.
Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a mixer at a high speed for 5–6 minutes, until light and fluffy. Mix in the sourdough starter (if you have it: it will make the biscuits much more moist), then gently add the cooled melted chocolate and mix really gently until just mixed.
Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Cover with a clean, slightly damp tea towel and chill in the fridge for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 160ºC/Mark 3.
Put the icing sugar into a bowl and mix in the cinnamon. Using a tablespoon, take pieces of the chilled dough, which should be firm, roll into ping pong ball sized pieces and toss in the icing sugar and place on the silicone baking mat, pressing each one down a little with your hand before putting them in the oven.
Bake for between 12–15 minutes, until the tops of the biscuits are cracked. Cool on their mats. Dust with more icing sugar.