Sometimes a high street biscuit is just the ticket and I often turn to Marks & Spencer's chocolate sandwich Viennese finger biscuits when the dreaded 4pm slump strikes and I find myself chained to my desk, wading through a sea of incoming emails. A couple of weeks ago (Fathers Day by sheer coincidence) I decided to try to recreate these tea time treats at home. I was excited, both because I would soon be eating biscuits and also because traditionally you pipe these little Viennese whirls of deliciousness and piping things is loads of fun.
I followed Rachel Allen's recipe from the book 'Bake' which produces a soft as silk dough, subtly scented with vanilla. The biscuits turned out slightly differently to how I had envisaged and I'll definitely need to give them another try (maybe tweaking my biscuit to chocolate ratio next time) but they were lovely none the less and I thought they would be the perfect thing to share on this bright and beautiful Friday morning!
What I really wanted to do was pipe the biscuits into little star shapes then sandwich them together with chocolate, much like the macarons I made a few weeks previously. Either I was using too small a piping nozzle (probable) or I need to get myself down the gym more (also probable) because I could not for the life of me force the dough, soft as it was, out of the above piping nozzle. This put an end to my vision of little perfectly matching up star shaped biscuit swirls but, still committed to my dream of piped perfection, I switched to a much larger, round nozzle and piped on.
The dough didn't spread out in the oven as much as I anticipated so I ended up with fairly thick, round biscuits. Next time I think I'll either make the dough slightly wetter and have another go at piping or roll it out thinly and use a cookie cutter.
Once the biscuits had cooled down I sandwiched them together with melted dark chocolate and drizzled a little more over the top for good measure - et voila! Happy Fathers Day Dad! We dunked them into big mugs of tea and they were great.
The recipe - taken from Rachel Allen's 'Bake'
110g Butter, softened
50g Icing sugar, sifted
1 Egg yolk
1/2 - 1 tsp vanilla extract
150g Plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 - 1.5cm star nozzle (I have no idea what size the nozzle I tried to use was, that would have been useful...)
1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F), Gas mark 4.
2. Cream the butter in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer until soft. Add the icing sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla extract until combined.
3. Sift in the flours and salt and mix well to form a dough.
4. Spoon the dough into a cloth piping bag fitted with the star nozzle and onto a lined baking tray pipe 5cm (2in) 'S' shapes, or circles or rosettes for bite-sized ones, spaced 5cm (2in) apart to allow them to spread. Bake in the oven for 12 - 15 minutes or until pale golden brown.
5. Leave on the baking tray for 2 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Optional extra: Melt some chocolate of your choice in a bowl suspended over a pan of gently simmering water. Use the chocolate to sandwich the biscuits together and drizzle any leftover over the top (don't worry about being too neat with this part, I think a few splodges here and there look rather nice).