Recipe: Chocolate hobnobs

A classic cookie start: creaming together butter and brown sugar.
A classic cookie start: creaming together butter and brown sugar.

I wanted to make something for my lab on my last day at work, and the best option for using up my oats and spelt flour seemed to be this classic British biscuit. I could have made these as normal digestive biscuits, but everyone knows that the chocolate-dipped version is better. Fun fact: apparently, the chocolate is on the bottom! (That link is to the Daily Mail, so…make of it what you will.)

Just the butter, sugar, oats, baking soda, and flour come together in a crumbly mess...
Just the butter, sugar, oats, baking soda, and flour come together in a crumbly mess…

The only thing that worried me a bit about this recipe while I was making it was how crumbly the dough was. I originally hoped to avoid using a cookie cutter (since I didn’t actually have one) by rolling the dough into a log and cutting it into slices, but the knife caught on the oats and the slices fell completely apart. My fingers were definitely crossed that they wouldn’t just crumble apart after baking.

...so it's amazing what a different 2 tablespoons of milk make!
…so it’s amazing what a different 2 tablespoons of milk make!
Lacking a 2-inch cookie cutter, I ended up using the only thing I had with the right dimensions: the lid of my tea strainer.
Lacking a 2-inch cookie cutter, I ended up using the only thing I had with the right dimensions: the lid of my tea strainer.
Pre-baking pans: thank goodness they don't spread.
Pre-baking: thank goodness they don’t spread.

Fortunately, the baking gods seem to have smiled upon me! They held together much better after baking, with not a single crack as I transferred the parchment to the cooling racks. I’m sure the chocolate layer will help them stick together as well.

Post-baking...they look almost exactly the same, but they're much sturdier.
Post-baking…they look almost exactly the same, but they’re much sturdier.

In terms of taste…of course they’re good. It’s flour, butter, oats, and brown sugar, covered in chocolate. How could you possibly go wrong? I haven’t had a store-bought hobnob in years, so I can’t personally remark on their resemblance to the genuine article. However, my labmates say they’re better (my supervisor’s comment was repeating his dad’s traditional cookery praise, “you could sell that in a shop”), and they disappeared pretty quickly, so I’ll call that a win. Britain isn’t exactly known for its cuisine, but this is one example I’d highly recommend that you try!

Cooling away!
Cooling away!

Chocolate Hobnobs

Yield: ~30-35 cookies.

Adapted from All Recipes.co.uk.

1 stick (110 g/4 oz) butter, room temperature
1/2 c generously packed (110 g/4 oz) soft brown sugar
2 c (175 g/6 oz) oats
1.33 c (175 g/6 oz) whole spelt flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp milk
150 g dark/bittersweet chocolate

Set the oven to 300 F/150 C, and line baking trays with parchment (or just grease them, but you’ll need parchment or wax paper anyway for the chocolate-dipping step).

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Mix in the oats. Sift the flour and baking soda together and add to the bowl; combine thoroughly. Add the milk and knead in the bowl until you get a solid lump of dough.

Roll out thinly on a lightly floured surface (doing this in two halves may be helpful) and cut into rounds using a 5 cm (2 in) cutter.  Put on the baking trays (they won’t spread, so don’t worry too much about spacing).

Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through, until cookies are nice and brown. Allow to cool at least 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer to wire racks to continue cooling.

Melt the chocolate using your preferred method (break into small pieces, then short stints in the microwave, double boiler, etc.). Dip the bottom of each biscuit in melted chocolate and return to parchment paper, chocolate side up. (I found it less messy to smear chocolate across the bottom of the cookie, but this tends to result in a less generous coating. Do whichever you prefer.) Let sit until chocolate has completely hardened and biscuits are cooled. Store in an airtight container.

OM NOM NOM.
OM NOM NOM.
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