If there is one thing I cannot deny, it’s that in Europe, we’re big on biscuits. Not cookies — biscuits. (Nuance, I insist.)
I grew up eating copious amounts of Lotus Peperkoek speculaas on St Nicholas Day (6 December), but don’t be fooled, we had them in the house pretty much year-round. Just like the Petits Ecoliers (wow, that takes me back!), and various other brands of biscuits. They were the perfect little after-school nibble. I never thought of it before, but just like the British have tea time with biscuits and scones and whatnot, on the Continent, we have our own biscuit traditions, too.
So it’s no surprise that I’m a big fan of chocolate digestives. Or at least, I was, until I went vegan. And so long as there’s not a Cookie Monster around to tempt me with the very much un-vegan kind of digestives, I can easily stay away from them.
But every time I go to his house, they’re there. Good old McVitie’s. Teasing from their colourful little packets. And after having given in a few times, I decided enough was enough. If I couldn’t find vegan chocolate digestives in the shops, I’d make my own, dammit.
And so these were born, out of pure outrage of not finding my afternoon biscuit of choice readily available in supermarkets.
(I know that mainstream supermarkets and shops have made huge improvements in the last few years alone — for the first time last year, I found dairy-free Advent calendars in Budgens of Crouch Hill, London! — but there is obviously still a long, long way to go. It irks me sometimes. That is all. Rant over.)
Prep time: 20-30 minutes (lots of kneading going on here, folks!)
Baking time: 15 minutes
200g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
75g wholemeal, plain flour + extra
50g brown sugar
2 tbsp apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g dark chocolate
100ml soy cream
1 tsp agave/maple/golden syrup
Either in a standing mixer or with your hands, combine all the ingredients to create a tough but pliable dough. This will take between 10 and 15 minutes, if using your hands, fewer if using a mixer. You want to make sure the dough is even and sticks together.
Lightly dust a clean surface with some flour. Roll the dough out into 1/4 cm thick. With a glass or a cookie cutter, shape 16 biscuits out of the dough. You will need to keep reworking the dough from the leftover bits until there is no dough left.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
On medium heat, warm the soy milk until it just starts to bubble, then immediately take off the heat. Gently, patiently stir in the broken chocolate (and syrup) with a wooden spoon until totally dissolved. Spread this chocolate ganache over the biscuits and let them cool on the wire rack at room temperature.
* You can store the digestives in the fridge for several days, they will keep very well, but bear in mind the biscuits will lose their crisp and the chocolate covering will start to crack. Better to store these in a tin, somewhere not too cool, but not too hot.
* For me, this is “milky” enough, but if simply adding soy cream to the dark chocolate doesn’t quite cut it for you, feel free to use dairy-free milk chocolate. Moo Free Chocolate is quite good, and is starting to become available in health food stores and supermarkets in the UK.
* I ran out of ground almonds, so I had to use some wholemeal flour. I’m happy with the overall texture, but if you want to substitute more ground almonds for the flour to create gluten-free and wheat-free biscuits, be my guest.