Saturday, February 6, 2010

Homemade Bickies

Rarely do I buy biscuits any more. I like to avoid unnecessary additives in my food as much as possible. I also prefer butter to margarine as it's a natural food. Most commercial bickies use margarine because it's cheaper.

Yesterday I made giant chocolate chip 'cookies' (damn American terms sneaking into our language!) from a recipe by Valli Little, of Better Homes and Gardens fame. I was bitterly disappointed with the outcome. To 300g flour, the recipe had a whopping 300g of sugar a well as 350g chocolate chips! When I made them, I used 240g sugar and 230g chocolate chips (that was the size of the packet). They were still way too sweet for me.

There's nothing worse than following a recipe and finding it's not right.  I recently purchased the book "Ratio" by Michael Ruhlman. This book is a revelation for home cooks. The ratio for everything you cook is provided with explanations in simple terms. So, I checked out the ratio for 'cookie' dough, as biscuits in the US are a totally different thing.
No wonder Valli Little's recipe didn't work well! The ratio for bickies is:

3 parts flour to 2 parts butter to 1 part sugar.

Therefore, her recipe for the choc chip cookies should have been:

300g flour, 200g butter, 100g sugar.

With the addition of choc chips, the sugar could be cut even further if desired. The recipe also used brown sugar, which doesn't give that lovely contrast of the bickie and the little dark spots of chocolate.

So, I've re-created her recipe and am now claiming it as my own:

Megan's Choc Chip Bickies
200g soft butter
100g castor sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
300g plain flour
1/2 tsp bi-carb
230g dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 190 degrees and line two baking sheets with baking paper.

Cream butter and sugar, add egg and vanilla and cream. Sift flour and bi-carb. Fold into butter mixture with choc chips. Roll a tablespoon of dough into a ball and place on  baking sheet. Press down gently.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes depending on size of bickie. Allow to cool on tray for a few minutes before using a spatula to move them to a cooling rack.

Using this standard ratio of 3 parts flour, 2 parts butter and 1 part sugar for bickies I can create different varieties from much the same recipe. Here's a few:
  • For shortbread, replace part of the flour with ground rice.
  • Replace 1/3 of the flour with ground nuts.
  • For low GI bickies (diabetics etc), replace sugar with agave nectar and flour with rice flour. 
  • Use a combination of brown sugar and golden syrup, add 2 tsp ginger, an egg and 1 tp bi-carb for ginger bickies. Top with chopped glace ginger.
  • Add 90g melted chocolate, sift flour over it and fold into butter sugar mixture.
  • Add peanut paste the same way as melted chocolate.
  • Use a combination of sugar and honey.
  • Instead of rolling dough into balls and flattening, roll dough into a log and chill. Cut thin slices from the log.
  • Top with Smarties, cherries or nuts.
  • Roll in crushed nuts or crushed cornflakes.
The possibilities appear to be endless. Of course, the ratio isn't hard and fast. More sugar will yield a crisper biscuit, more butter a shorter biscuit. Anna Olsen, from the programme, "Sugar", replaces some of the flour with cornflour for a chewy bickie.

For now, I'll stick with the 3:2:1 ratio and try lots of ingredient variations.


  1. Well done! I hate it how so many recipes over-do the sugar!! That 'Ratios' book sounds very interesting. Your new blog looks good. :) Jo

  2. Thanks Jo! Yep, Ratio is a great book, though I do draw the line at making my Hollandaise with 5 egg yolks as the author recommends!!