• The Tenuous Purpose

    This Blog is built - not, as some might expect, on a flimsy whim but on a strong and single minded principle.

    That principle concerns Biscuits and their position in the world.

    We are really very keen on biscuits.
    As are many of you out there.
    We think.

    We wish to create an archive of Arrowroot, a backlog of Bourbons and a catalogue of Chocolate Fingers. Anybody can contribute an entry - or dispute somebody else's - provided they are not dull.
    Even Americans who perhaps don't really have the heritage of biscuitry that we are fortunate to have here.

    Or maybe they do and we are unaware of the full glory of the cookie.

    We realise that this whole subject is admirably and concisely dealt with by that excellent and unbeatable website A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down. Our feeble efforts will be as the kicking of a gadfly in the face of their wisdom and experience but we hope that we may have a small contribution to make.

  • Biscuit Encounters on Twitter

  • The Synod of Biscuitry

    James Alexander-Sinclair of Blackpitts
    Gardener, Blogger, Journalist, Lecturer etc, etc. Much of his life is spent loafing around other people’s gardens issuing directives and generally cluttering up the place. However, like the great Mr Kipling, he does (occasionally) make exceptionally good gardens. (Although even Mr Kipling messed up a bit with the Carrot and Walnut Mini Classics.)

    Mark Diacono of Otter Farm
    He does sterling work growing many inappropriate plants in Devon. He dedicates a great deal of time and effort nurturing a plethora of plants that are (mostly) totally unsuited to our climate. His is a life of such extreme eccentric dedication that to start a Blog about Biscuits seems perfectly normal. He treads gently in the footsteps of people like the great William Buckland,a professor of Geology who claimed that he could tell location by tasting the local topsoil.

We Know What We Like-Part Three (And Final) Of The Test Drive

Finishing up the taste testing of these twelve varieties of biscuits (See part one for the entire list and part two for the tasting results of the rest), finds us nearly carbohydrated out. Even dividing the packages into two groups of six, after the first or second bites of crumbly dry cookies, we never wanted to set eyes or teeth on another one of any type. However, there were some clear winners. Let us get right to the brilliant diatribe offered by testers, M, W, G and F.

7. McVitie’s Digestives-dark chocolate-tasty wheat cookies half coated in plain chocolate (UK)

M-Dry. No real taste.

W-True digestive aid. One taste and you are through eating.

G-Forget the cookie, just scrape the chocolate off.

F-Tasteless

8. Schuhmann chocolate coated spice cookies with apricot filling (Germany)

M-Apricot toe jam-same cookie as the berry filled, still not great but liked the spice cookie flavor

W-You can change the filling bit I still don’t like this biscuit

G-Bad chocolate, just wrong, I don’t like this one

F-Yuck. And I love apricots.

9. Arnott’s original chocolate coated biscuits with a chocolate cream center (Australia)

M-If you like bad milk chocolate, you will like this, however, this one gets extra points because it calls itself a biscuit. Still not a tasty biscuit, but a biscuit.

W-Dry, stale chocolate shell and wafer. Okay.

G-No! Wrong, wrong taste like a really cheap cookie.

F-I liked this one. Must be really hungry.

10. Gille Galletas de Narahjas-orange oat crisps (Sweden)

M-Like store bought chocolate chip cookies with the chips

W-Kind of like Pillsbury slice and bake

G-Love the crunch, hate the orange. Needs more chocolate.

F-A little too chewy, not bad.

11. Dean’s Oat Biscuits-Sultana and Heather Honey (Scotland)

M-Finally a great butter cookie, but can’t taste the honey. What is a sultana?

W-Taste like it was made in America

G-Love the butter taste and the fact it is made with oats.

F-Very buttery, good.

12. Arnott’s Mint Slice chocolate biscuits (Australia)

M-Good mint, good wafer

W-Like girl scout cookies

G-Needs better chocolate

F-Pretty good actually!

So. A couple of things need to be mentioned here, for the sake of honesty. After the first night of cookie tasting, we could not bear to go through the torture again, so M volunteered to do all the tasting and write all of the reviews. His rendition of W was pretty close to what he probably would have said. His rendition of G, his wife by the way, made me laugh. He must think all she cares about is chocolate or something. He left the F on each sheet blank, to be filled in by the true F, me. I really did like both of the Arnott’s offerings, but my number one favorite was the Mints. In fact, I ate the whole box. Those get the Big F Award for best biscuit/cookie.

We now feel a stronger kinship to the mother country across the pond. It seems perfectly understandable that eating cookies or biscuits if you like, is an associated memory, wrapped up in nostalgia for people, places and moments in time. Pure taste testing is not really what the extraordinary Encounters with Remarkable Biscuits blog is about, it seems to me. Remembering happenings in our lives that included certain brands of confectionary goodness are painted as happy or sad, depending on the circumstances surrounding them. I get it. For now all of these biscuits will be remembered with the filter on the lens of the fun we enjoyed with friends that certain weekend.

The *croun* in the earlier tastings was referring to the packaging of the Daelman’s Dutch caramel wafers. When the top was opened to expose the treats inside, the upper edges were scalloped to suggest a crown. Very clever.

Frances Garrison.plain.


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27 Responses

  1. To clarify the meaning of toe jam, here is M’s comment from the previous part of the taste test:

    M. Said:
    With no offense, “toejam” is a reference to product made in Austin, TX (see ToeJam.org). Toe Jam is a revolutionary new binding lubricant that is designed using only water and vegetable based ingredients. My use of the term in the context of commenting on the taste of a particular biscuit was that the filling had more of an industrial taste than one generally finds in a cookie. In my prior life as a published restaurant critic I often found it helpful to use references that cause people to pause and think. M.

  2. Truly shocking results given my previous comments about Arnott’s sickliness.

    I am apalled that my all-time second favourite biscuit (McVitie’s Plain chocolate) has been tossed aside in favour of such antipodean half-baked ideas. 😮

    I demand a re-test – with dunking.

    • So sorry, VP. We will not be able to retest. We barely got through this one. The results are difficult to explain, for we had previous knowledge ourselves of the glories extolled by you and others of the digestives et al. Funny about the mints, as they were the only ones past the expiration date. Maybe they morphed into something better with age. I still maintain that memories flavor the taste buds with these biscuits with happy times past.

      • Frances – perhaps British biscuits are like good beer, they don’t travel well.

        Or perhaps we’re 2 nations, not only separated by a common language?

        However, I applaud your stoicism in carrying out your onerous testing duties to the bitter end 😉

        And I’m flavouring my taste buds right now, not only with happy memories, but a favourite biscuit 🙂

  3. Lucky I’m lying down – Mc Vite’s Plain chocolate (heavenly) digestives should NEVER be talked about in such a way. I call for stricter moderation on this blog. Blasphemy!!! especially when Cabury’s Fingers were not appreicated as they should be. Quite frankly I worry about you Francis and your friends, I fear you may all be witches…or was this whole 3 part extravagana just not taken seriously? Really, I am discombobulated to the max.

    • I am truly sorry to have offended you with our results, Carrie. But these were honest opinions, offered without bribe or pay of any kind. We like what we like. We appreciate your worry, it is shared on occasion here. It has been said that the American cookies are much sweeter than the British biscuit. Maybe that is what we expect of a baked good. It may also be that the age of these boxes might have affected the taste. None were fresh. I do hope your are able to regain combobulation soon.

  4. Thank you for those kind words, VP. I know we have offended, and truly are sorry for that. I am not much of a beer drinker, although have quaffed my share in younger years with taste being the least thing….well we shall leave that path untrodden. May be best to say the beer and the biscuits so beloved over there are more of an acquired taste across the pond. I am feeling the slightest yearning for an Arnott’s about now, or a Leibnitz. 🙂

  5. you… didn’t…. like …. chocolate…. digestives…. :O :O

    I’m sorry, I’m going to have to go and lie down for a minute.

    • The reaction of the British blog reading public is beyond our expectations. Please accept our apology for having provincial taste buds. We really wanted to like those digestives, really.

  6. I’ve been pondering this tricky dispute between our two distinguished nations all afternoon. I even had to pop out for a quick bite of cookie in order to compare it with my memories of the Hob Nobs and Digestives the BBC kept us regularly topped up with on Sunday.

    Frances, I don’t think it’s just a matter of sugar content.

    Looking back at the assessment sheet, I think there’s another key factor which needs to be taken into account. Tester M has the finger on the pulse: the dryness of the biscuit. We like our biscuits dry. It’s a particularly good quality if dunking is also performed as part of the eating procedure. However, your cookies are often chewy with a fair amount of give and not at all suitable for dunking.

    Thus I refer you to my original comment. I think the results would have been very different if you’d adopted the full British procedure in your testing 😉

    • I too have been pondering this, VP. Like biscotti, which are totally inedible if not dunked, it may be that we gave the biscuits short shrift by eating them dry. When fully recovered, calorie-wise, I will give them another go. Or at least the beloved digestives.

  7. BTW when you do finally make it over the pond, I’ve no doubt that many plates of biscuits will be proferred by your British blogging friends as part of your ‘re-education’ in addition to the gardening delights that will be on your actual itinerary 😉

  8. Ooh – also forgot to say that a sultana is a type of dried grape, along similar lines to raisins and currants.

  9. Thanks for the warning, er heads up, VP. I will try to be as trim as possible when the visit occurs. Or may think the biscuits far superior to other British fare, such as kidney pudding. Or is this too slippery a slope? 🙂

    We guessed as much about the sultanas. I like the name, sort of an exotic ancient Persian idealized raisin is conjured.

  10. Several thoughts. First, dunking. Americans for the most part are dunkers, unless, their class aspirations keep them from trying or admitting to engaging in such behavior. Second~we are not not a nation of tea drinkers; especially, strong and hot English tea. (Which I love, btw) Many drink sweetened iced tea (yuck) or in it’s new and healthy guise~~green. Third, dunking as a phenomena is almost exclusively an ice cold milk experience. Fourth, American store bought cookies are what many of us grew up on and when we have a Brit tasting ~~those are the cookies that need to be in the line-up.

    gail

  11. I fear I may need to eat some McVites Plain digestives or indeed some Cabury’s fingers, ironically, to help re-combobulate myself. It will be a long process, therapy may be needed too….

  12. I was brought to this post by a message telling me that Americans were ‘being beastly about Chocolate Digestives’. I was open-minded when I arrived: I could only assume you had some pale imitation to test. Now that I see it was the real thing, I’m not sure what to say. I always thought that if only people could understand each other more, we could all get along. Tonight, I think I’ve lost that faith.

  13. Frances,

    Please disregard my last comment: all is forgiven.

    I have been catching up on older posts on this blog and have discovered much more severe slander – of the blessed hobnob – and from those rather closer to home. Let transatlantic peace be restored. The enemy is within.

    • Whew, I am so relieved to be removed from the sights of venomous bile. It is of the utmost importance that we peoples from diverse lands find common ground. My heritage is one hundred percent British, English, Scots and Irish with a little Pocohantas mixed in, so I feel as one with your people, my people. I promise to give the digestives another try, with dunking. Thank you for divine forgiveness, and your readership.

  14. As Gail points out, if our transatlantic cousins are going to try dunk testing they first need to know how to make tea. This may be a problem.

    I used to take my own tea-bags (PG Tips) when working in the US, rather than drink the brew from the strange yellow dusty bags available at the time…whether one would get PG through security check-in nowadays is another matter.

    My ex-pat uncle in Albuquerque used to import Weetabix!

    • Thank you for weighing in, New Shoot. There is a plan in the works for a retest of the digestives with dunking. Perhaps that will cause an uproar of a different sort if tea is used. Since I am a coffee drinker, partaking of herbal tea when under the weather only, chamomile to be specific, if it worked for Peter Rabbit it is good enough for me, the dunk dipping will require an asterisk.

  15. Let me get a bit nostalgic. I grew up on brewed hot tea with cream… Great Grandmother Clarke taught Grandma Ruth, who taught my mother, who served it to us (with toast) when we didn’t feel well. I then served it to our son… It is a wonderfully comforting brew for me. One of my dearest friends is from Manchester and she shares her English Teabags (her brother sends them) with me.

    I do prefer coffee in the mornings and tea in the afternoons~But, I don’t like cookies or biscuits at all! I love toast…It’s yummy and comforting.

    Gail

    • My mother and grandmother always made us tea like that too, with toast when we were sick. I used to have English Breakfast in the mornings before latching onto the coffee that I drink now. With sugar and cream. Cinnamon toast is excellent with it. Lucky you to have those English teabags.

  16. Right, I’ve recovered a bit now.

    Dunking only works with digestives that don’t have chocolate on the back. These should be enjoyed in splendid isolation where the brilliance of that unsurpassed combination of creamy chocolate and crisp biscuit can be enjoyed without other distractions.

    “Ordinary” digestives are however much better dunked and are one of the few biscuits which can achieve that perfect level of sludginess when soaked with coffee while still remaining intact.

    By the way, can I have the rest of your uneaten and rejected packet of chocolate digestives please? I’ll pay postage 😀

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