Garibaldi Biscuits with a Difference – We Should Cocoa #24
Now I’m not quite sure why, but when I found out the “special ingredient” for this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge hosted by The KitchenMaid, was fame, Garibaldi was the very first name that sprang to mind. Giuseppe Garibaldi played a prominent role in the Unification of Italy in 1870, but as far as I remember from my school history lessons, he was THE figure, not just one of them. I suspect he particularly stuck in my mind because of the famous biscuits named after him. His story seemed rather a romantic one to my somewhat naive mind; with his famous volunteer army dressed in Red Shirts for want of real uniforms, storming across Italy in a bid for independence and deposing despots as they went. He was much admired by Victor Hugo, Georges Sand and Alexandre Dumas, all heroes of mine at the time. He did indeed achieve a lot in his lifetime and led an interesting life – you can read more about him here.
|Garibaldi on Caprera c1860|
For those unaware of Garibaldi biscuits, they are rectangular, flat, pastry like bakes, heavily studded with currants in recognition of the limited rations the Red Shirts carried with them. Squashed flies, as we used to call them, were a firm favourite when I was young, principally because it was one of the few shop bought biscuits my mother would allow; it must have had something to do with all those currants. I have no idea if they are still made, I haven’t had one in years. In fact I might just have to go down to the shops right now and find out.
My version is based on the recipe from British Baking by Peyton and Byrne. Instead of currants, I of course used chocolate, but not just any old chocolate: fairtrade hazelnut chocolate. I usually use fairtrade chocolate as a matter of course, but I thought I’d mention it as it is Fairtrade Fortnight at the moment – I’m sure Garibaldi would have approved. I used my usual mix of half wholemeal and half white, but threw in a tbsp of mesquite powder which I thought would emulate the malty notes that shop bought biscuits often have.
This is how I made:
Chocolate Garibaldi Biscuits
- Chopped 100g bar of Fairtrade hazelnut chocolate so as to get it as small as I could.
- Weighed out 280g flour (half wholemeal, half white including 1 tbsp mesquite powder) and put into food processor.
- Added 1 scant teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of pink Himalayan rock salt.
- Cubed 110g unsalted butter and threw that in.
- Added 75g cardamom (caster) sugar.
- Whizzed in the processor until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs.
- Added about 8 tbsp of milk (recipe stated 1 or 2) bit by bit until the mixture started to clump.
- Bought into a ball with my hands and shaped into a cube.
- Floured worktop and rolled out to about 5mm thickness.
- Trimmed the edges to make a square, then cut in half.
- Sprinkled most of the chocolate over one half (leave a little for the trimmings).
- Topped with the other half and squished the edges together to seal.
- Rolled out to about 3mm, then cut into rectangles of varying sizes.
- Pricked each one a few times with a fork and placed on a lined baking tray.
- Brushed with egg white and baked for 15 minutes at 180C until golden.
I was pleased to discover that my biscuits tasted like my memories of the real Garibaldis, even though mine were heavily studded with hazelnut chocolate rather than currants. In fact, they were quite delicious and I will most definitely be making them again. They were perhaps a little thicker than the originals, but were crisp with the right texture and eminently suitable for dunking. They were sweet enough, but not overly so with the hazelnut chocolate making a good substitute for the currants. Where better to store them than in a fun new tin I was sent recently – if you keep your eye on things, you might see it featuring in a giveaway here shortly.
NB – I did go to the shops and I did find Garibaldi biscuits and I had to buy a packet too. I was annoyed to find that palm oil was used rather than butter, but other than that the ingredients weren’t too bad with currants at 39% being the top one. They weren’t too sweet either and although mine tasted far superior (though I say it myself), they are still not a bad little biscuit.