Garibaldi Biscuits with a Difference – We Should Cocoa #24
Recipe for crisp homemade garibaldi biscuits with a difference. These ones are heavily studded with hazelnut chocolate rather than currants. Why not. Read on to find out how to make them and also what Garibaldi was up to in Cornwall.
General Giuseppe Garibaldi
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 in Cornwall
I recently found out we have a local connection to him in my part of Cornwall. How very exciting. Trenython Manor, which is not too far from us, was built in 1872 and the architect was commissioned by Garibaldi. It was a thank you to Colonel Peard, who had supported his Italian Campaign a few years earlier along with the Duke of Cornwall’s volunteers. Indeed, Garibaldi visited the Colonel in Cornwall in 1864 and was greeted by crowds of cheering well-wishers.
For those unaware of Garibaldi biscuits, they are rectangular, flat, pastry like bakes, heavily studded with currants. They’re a British classic, but are so named in recognition of the limited rations the Red Shirts carried with them. We used to call them squashed flies when I was young. They were a firm favourite, 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’ve no idea if they’re 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.
Chocolate Garibaldi Biscuits
My version of garibaldi biscuits 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. Fairtrade chocolate is something generally use 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’ve approved. I used a mix of half wholemeal flour and half white. Many shop bought biscuits often have malty notes to them, so I threw in a tbsp of mesquite powder, which I thought would emulate the flavour.
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 tastes far superior (though I say it myself), they are still not a bad little biscuit.
We Should Cocoa
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Homemade Garibaldi Biscuits. PIN IT.
Chocolate Garibaldi Biscuits
- 140 g wholemeal flour
- 140 g plain flour
- 1 tbsp mesquite powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of rock or sea salt (I used pink Himalayan rock salt)
- 110 g unsalted butter - cut into pieces
- 75 g golden caster sugar (I used cardamom sugar for extra flavour)
- 8 tbsp milk
- 100 g Fairtrade hazelnut chocolate - chopped into small bits
- 1 egg white
- Place the dry ingredients into food processor.
- Add the butter and sugar and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the milk a little at a time until the mixture starts to clump - you may not need all of the milk.
- Bring the dough into a ball with your hands and shape into a cube.
- Flour your worktop and roll the dough out to about 5mm in thickness. Trim the edges to make a square, then cut in half to form two rectangles.
- Sprinkle most of the chocolate over one half (leave a little for the trimmings). Top with the other half and squish the edges together to seal.
- Roll out to about 3mm in thickness, then cut into biscuit sized rectangles. Prick each one a few times with a fork and place on a lined baking tray.
- Brush with egg white and place on lined baking trays. Bake for 15 minutes at 180℃ until golden. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes then place the biscuits on a rack to cool completely.