I love fruit cake – I’ll qualify that, I love moist homemade fruit cake, especially my mum’s. A thick slab - there is no other option; thin dainty slices are just not right - with a cup of strong black tea at mid-morning can be very fortifying. A hot wodge with real, homemade custard or even vanilla ice cream is properly, traditionally Christmassy for this time of the year.
I love the old-fashioned heartiness of fruitcake: it really does evoke memories of apron-wearing mums and nannas, or images of no-nonsense CWA ladies, following a stained and faded recipe that’s been passed down thru the generations. Fruitcake is not trendy or cool, but who cares: it tastes good.
However – even if I can’t fathom why - I’m aware that some people don’t like fruitcake. Especially the young’uns. Does the twittering, iPadding, facebook generation not appreciate the simple joys of sultanas and jelly cherries, and daisy patterns studded out with blanched almonds? Oops, I think I slipped into cranky-old-woman mode then…
So what to bake for my Christmas gifts to friends this year (who, now that I think of it, are mostly older than me but still more up-with-it than I am)?
Everyone, I figure, loves a choc chip biscuit. So I dug out a real winner, made with wholemeal flour and chopped chocolate. The wholemeal flour means you haven’t got a cloyingly sweet biscuit; the rough shards of chocolate distribute the oozy darkness more effectively than actual choc-chips do (eaten hot out of the oven, the chocolate really oozes. Well, I had to try them before I wrapped them up and gave them away). As you might with a choc wheatie biscuit, you can convince yourself these are almost healthy because of the wholemeal flour, but if you want healthy in a Christmas food prezzie, don’t look to me.
Happy Christmas everyone!
Wholemeal choc chip biscuits
Adapted from the Orangette website. This quantity made about 70 but the ingredients can be easily halved.
- Prep many, many baking trays. Make sure you have plenty of room in your fridge.
- First roughly chop 200 gms dark cooking chocolate (or milk if you prefer). I may be tell you something you already knew, but I found it easiest to break the chocolate into 2x2 squares and then chop away using a heavy knife (I used my santoku-style knife) - rather than attempt to cut the whole block at once.
- Cream 220 gms soft butter with 1 cup each of dark brown sugar and white sugar. Then add 2 large eggs and 1 tsp vanilla.
- Now stir thru 3 cups wholemeal flour, 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda and a generous pinch of salt. Then stir thru the chopped chocolate. The mix for me was pretty stiff.
- Roll out walnut-sized balls of dough and flatten slightly (I use an antique baby spoon that mum gave me; it's just the right size and shape). Arrange on your baking trays, then fridge for half an hour. This is essential so they don't spread and form one large biscuit!
- I can't help but thinking that if this was a Nigel Slater or Simon Hopkinson cooking show, I'd be sitting with a book, a glass of wine and a soulful record playing while I waited for the dough to chill. Instead, I did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen.
- At the end of the chilling time, preheat your oven now to 180.
- Bake the cookies. I did mine for 17 minutes and they cooled to a nice crisp biscuit, and I've had no complaints; perhaps try less time if you want a chewier/softer biscuit.