Back to baking, albeit nothing too rich yet! My daughter brought home a pack of cocoa nibs on her recent visit. What a treat - it's impossible to get anything like that around here - we're so provincial! Mail order is a possibility, but adding on the postage costs of relatively heavy items often makes it prohibitive.
I thought the characteristics of cocoa nibs would be best showcased in a crisp biscuit, and decided to also add some pistachio nuts, chopped into pieces about the same size as the cocoa nibs. The number of shortbread recipes around only bewildered me, so I went right back to basics and used Delia Smith's recipe from The Complete Cookery Course, first published in 1978. It has the classic proportions of 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter and 3 parts flour (in Imperial measurements!). The only change I made to the basic recipe was to use a small proportion of cornflour alongside the plain flour, which is supposed to make the biscuits denser and crisper.
Preheat oven to 150C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Use a wooden spoon to beat the butter, in a medium sized bowl, until soft and creamy, then beat in the caster sugar.
Sift in the two flours and stir in with the spoon until the mixture is stiff and crumbly - not all the flour will be incorporated at this stage.
Add the nuts and cocoa nibs, then use your hand to gather the dough into a ball and knead together to make a soft smooth paste.
Roll out on a board sprinkled lightly with caster sugar, to 3mm thickness. Cut into circles with a 75mm round cutter and place biscuits on the baking tray. Re-roll the trimmings to cut more biscuits.
Bake for 30 minutes, when the biscuits will be cooked through but barely coloured. Cool on the tray for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. The biscuits will become crisp as they cool. Store in an airtight tin.
These biscuits were delicious, with a crisp and delicately crumbly texture. The cocoa nibs, which originated in Peru, were crunchy, bitter and smoky and together with the nuts enhanced the crunchiness of the biscuits. The little flecks of pale green and dark brown looked pretty too. These would be a lovely addition to a traditional afternoon tea!