• 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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Chocolate Spice Cookies

I’ve always made a large batch of mince pies at this time of the year and taken them to work to serve instead of sending Christmas cards to everyone. This year I’m no longer there and my friends with whom I’ve kept in touch either hate fruit in any kind of cake, or have been made redundant. So I’ve turned my attention to other seasonal fayre instead and baked the following recipe in honour of this blog.

It’s a traditional one hailing from the Basel area in Switzerland and the cookies can be cut into any desired shape, though hearts are generally preferred.


2 egg whites

1 tablespoon water

0.25 cup (50g) sugar (granulated is fine)

4.5 cups (250g) ground unblanched almonds

1 cup (200g) sugar

4 ounces (100g) unsweetened chocolate (I used plain, fairtrade)

1 large pinch of ground cinnamon (more if you prefer your biscuits spicy like I do)

Sugar or flour for rolling out the cookies. If you use sugar, I suspect the finer the better.


  1. Beat the egg whites with the sugar and water until just starting to stiffen
  2. Grate the chocolate
  3. Combine the almonds, the rest of the sugar, chocolate and cinnamon in a bowl
  4. Add the egg white mixture and work it into the ingredients to make a soft dough
  5. Sprinkle the work surface with sugar, place the dough on it, and roll out about 1cm (3 eighths of an inch) thick
  6. Select your favourite cutter shape and size and cut out the cookies
  7. Place them on a buttered baking sheet and leave then to dry for at least 5-6 hours, preferably overnight
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit/ 160 degrees centigrade/ or 150 degrees centigrade for fan assisted ovens
  9. Bake for 15 minutes on the centre shelf

Makes about 60 small cookies, or 20 large ones. They should be crisp on the outside and quite soft on the inside.

I used the spare egg yolks in an omelette I made for supper. Tonight our house is filled with the smell of chocolate and my husband is a very happy man, having tried the first one still warm off the baking sheet.

Michelle Chapman. plain.

Whoop-de-doo: the congratulations of the ruling committee and plenum go out to Michelle for her reaching the honour of plain.The third of our contributors to make it to this lofty plateau.

7 Responses

  1. They sound so yummy, I really want no need one right now!!! Andrew (my Hubby) has promised to get my oven fixed so I can make my traditional gingerbread men as usual this christmas – homemade is best x Enjoy yours, I’m so jealous..warm…fresh…biscuits….(drool)

  2. Like Carrie said, homemade is best. Thanks for this recipe, VP. Anything with over four cups of almonds has to be fabulous. I see there is no fat of any kind, just what is produced by the nuts. Very healthful!

    And a hearty special secret handshake and hug for becoming .plain!

  3. Fol de dol dee – I thank the ruling committee and Frances for their hearty congratulations on my reaching the worthy milestone of .plain. I’d like to thank…

    Carrie – they’re most yummy – we’re rationing ourselves to one a day at the moment as a morning coffee treat!

    Frances – you’ve hit the nail on the head. I chose this recipe because it didn’t have any fat, but had loads of almonds, which are a superfood. I propose we draw a swift veil over the inclusion of chocolate and sugar in the recipe and just concentrate on the healthful properties of all those wondrous nuts 😉

    PS If you’re wondering why the fol de dol dee – I’ve just come back from choir practise and have the Gower Wassail on the brain!

  4. Just need to mention a couple of things:

    1. It’s the 50g sugar which gets combined with the egg white

    2. It’s best to mix everything together using a metal spoon as much as possible so the chocolate doesn’t melt too much during the combining process. You may find you need to use your hands to get the last little bits into the dough.

  5. Mmmmmm VP – wish that I had one (or two) to hand with my afternoon cup of coffee. My brother is a food scientist and as a student wrote a dissertation on the relative crunchiness of biscuits. This entailed eating some serious quantities of biscuits 🙂

  6. Anna – sounds like you (or he) needs to write a post on that very subject for this blog!

    I’ve had a question over at mine on the suitability of these biscuits for icing. Sadly, they didn’t last long enough for me to put this to the test – which I fully intended to do, I even bought some tubes of ready made icing for writing. However, I think they’d ice very well, just like gingerbread men do.

  7. They sound great, I must try them out. Look forward to hearing about the icing – some white doodles would look really good against the chocolatey colour.

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