I grew up with a mother that made everything from scratch, including biscuits and cookies. Those packets of biscuits at the supermarket were a rare treat...making them that much more enticing!
As I was grew up and spent more time at friends' homes and then after flying the nest, I became something of a bikkie aficionado. Arnotts were the reliable favourites - from the Butternut Snaps to the Monte Carlos, to the Lemon Crisps, to the Kingston Creams. And the Tim Tam. But there were also lesser known goodies to be discovered...particularly the perfect morsel that is "The Coffee Scroll".
The coffee scroll was a crisp, round flat biscuit embossed with a scroll pattern, that contained cinnamon, allspice/cloves and maybe nutmeg, as well as tiny black currants. Each biscuit had a dollop of hard pink icing in the centre top.
In fact, it was only after we were engaged that I discovered my husband also had an appreciation for this lovely bikkie. Legend has it that Arnotts once made these, but my memories are that they were made by Lanes or Nabisco. Whenever the husband and I would set off on a road trip, I would make sure that we had packed at least a couple packets of these pink-topped, scrolly delights! We even ate them up and down the east coast of Australia on our honeymoon in 1998.
Whilst I had by that time (back in the Nabisco Coffee Scroll era) expressed my inevitable genetic tendencies to make everything from scratch, I was more than happy to buy them off the shelf and delight in their spicy, crunchy, currant-y goodness from time to time.
You can imagine how unhappy I was when I found the 'Big Two' had stopped stocking them. For a while I could find them at the questionable discount stores (what I call the $2 shops), no doubt imported from Asia.
Then, just like that, they were a thing of the past.
Instead of lamenting the loss of this classic, I set about creating the same taste sensation from scratch. And because I know that there are other people who miss this bikkie, I am now sharing my tried and true recipe so that you too can recreate this perfect coffee accompaniment.
*"Bikkie" is a typically Australian contraction of the word "biscuit", which is the thing that Americans may call a "cookie". They are usually crisper and smaller than a typical American-style cookie.
RECIPE: Coffee Scrolls, Reincarnated
Makes around 48 completed biscuits
3 cups plain/all purpose or cake flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 large free-range egg (at room temperature)
1/4 cup small dried black currants^
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp allspice or 1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt (omit salt if using salted butter)
Egg wash: 1 free-range egg whisked into 1/4 cup milk
375 grams (13.5oz) white chocolate
Red/pink oil-based powdered food colouring (optional, available at cake decorating stores)
(^note: it is tempting to add more than 1/4 cup of currants. I know. Trust me, you will cause your bikkies to break apart as the currants expand in the oven, so keep it to a maximum of 1/4 cup. If you must, eat a handful of currants as you're waiting for the bikkies to bake).
Egg whisk - spiral style (while not great for whisking eggs, this tool remains in my tool drawer only for making these biscuits)
Silicon (non-stick) baking paper - use each sheet more than once with successive trays going into the oven.
2 1/4" (57mm) or thereabouts cutter
Using a mixer, beat (with paddle) the butter, brown sugar, vanilla and spices until light and fluffy. Use a hand whisk or wooden spoon if you do not own a mixer.
Mix in egg on low speed.
Add in flour and baking powder, mix on low until blended. Scrape down bowl, mix again.
Add currants, fold or knead in. Dough will be soft. Let rest for 30 minutes in fridge, covered in cling film in a flattened round shape.
Preheat oven to 160 deg C/320 deg F.
Roll out around 1/3 of the dough between two sheets of baking paper until around 4-5mm thick.
Cut out 2 1/4" (57mm) rounds, place on silicon-papered biscuit/cookie baking sheets. Each unbaked biscuit should weigh about 20 grams maximum (0.7 oz)
Press spiral egg whisk into top to emboss your spiral.
Dip the flat spiral end into flour before pressing into the top of each cookie.
Don't worry about the "e" shape in the middle of the bikkie; it will be covered up later.
Step 7:Continue rolling out dough and cutting rounds, and embossing scrolls.
Optional: glaze top of biscuit with egg wash. (NB: I did not glaze this batch).
Bake at 160 deg C (320 deg F) for approximately 15 minutes until golden brown. Let sit on trays a few minutes before cooling on racks completely. These biscuits should be crunchy when cooled.
Clearly the iconic part of the biscuit, but also an essential part of the Coffee Scroll experience when eaten all together. It took me a while to work out the best way to replicate this hard pink icing, and this is what I came up with.
Melt your chocolate.
Microwave method: Place your 375g of white chocolate (chopped or buttons) into a large pyrex bowl or microwave-safe jug. Heat at 100% for 30 seconds, stir. Repeat until chocolate completely melted and smooth.
Double boiler method: Place white chocolate into a pyrex bowl, a metal bowl or the top saucepan of a double boiler. Place over a saucepan containing 1cm of simmering water, ensuring complete seal around edges of your top bowl/pan. Don't let bottom of your bowl/pan touch the water. Do NOT let steam condense and run into chocolate; it will seize. Stir occasionally until melted.
Add in a smidge of red or pink oil-based powdered food colouring. Truly, just about 1/8 teaspoon. Mix thoroughly. If you only have water- or alcohol-based liquid or gel food colouring, leave it out.
Using a teaspoon or disposable piping bag, place a blob of pink-tinted white chocolate in the centre of each bikkie. Do not go to the edges. Actually, to be authentic you don't even have to put as much as I have shown in the photo below (what can I say? I like chocolate).
Allow to cool completely until icing has set hard.
Enjoy with your favourite hot
Do you have a long lost favourite? Have you ever tried recreating it from scratch?