If you have ever been to England, you probably know the tea time staple: McVitties digestive biscuits. Crisp and substantial, sometimes covered in chocolate, these are a unique treat somewhere between graham crackers and shortbread…but really, quite different from both. They are getting easier to find here in the US, but I stumbled upon a copycat recipe and decided to give it a try. Verdict: amazing. These are light and crispy and exactly what you want with tea. I expect they will be on regular rotation in our house.
Makes 12-14 cookies. I recommend doubling the batch as these go fast!
3⁄4 cup whole wheat flour
1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄4 tsp salt
1⁄4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1⁄4 cup wheat bran
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons brown sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons half-and-half
In a large bowl, mix together the flours, bran, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar with a pastry blender. Mix in sugar with the hand pastry blender (food processors or mixers will work, but the crumb and texture will not be as flaky in the final product). Mix in fats with the pastry blender. The mix at this point should be crumbly and uniform. Mix the vanilla in the half-n-half and add to the mix. Mix with pastry blender until it is uniform and resembles soft, crumbly playdoh. Do not overwork the dough.
Refrigerate dough for 20 minutes to make it easier to handle. Roll out dough between two pieces of waxed paper to approximately 1/8″ thickness. Cut into rounds with cookie cutter about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.
Transfer to cookie sheets with silpats or parchment. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes (adjust the baking time up to dry them out more if the biscuits are too soft and fluffy), or until golden. Let cool on wire rack.
Optional: spread the backs of the cooled biscuits with melted chocolate and let harden.