Thursday, 6 October 2011

Tamarind Spice Biscuits

It looks as if spices are going to be the theme for October baking. I've still got the chocolate-chilll challenge to complete for We Should Cocoa, and my last cake was strongly flavoured with cinnamon. But that's how it should be at this time of year - warm spices such as chilli, ginger, pepper and cinnamon are great additions to autumnal baking.

This recipe for Tamarind Spice Biscuits is another from Dan Lepard. It's packed with ginger - both the ground spice and chopped glacé ginger, with the addition of tamarind and garam masala. I used well-washed stem ginger as I don't think I've ever seen glacé ginger. Crystallised ginger could probably be used too, although the extra sugar might unbalance the flavour a little.

I made my own tamarind concentrate by mixing 40g tamarind block and 60mls boiling water, then passing the paste through a sieve, leaving the seeds and fibre behind. This gave me more than I needed, but was just guess work really, this time. Next time I might try more tamarind as the spices are really powerful.

The recipe was quick to make and there were no problems along the way, although I flattened the balls of dough a little, and I think they would have been better left completely spherical.

The biscuits were delicious, although the spice levels could be a bit too much for some people - my garam masala has quite a lot of black pepper in it and this gave the biscuits quite a kick. Mixed spice might be better for the faint-hearted! I think the tamarind is lost in the amount of spice, but someone with a better palate might be able to pick it out. It's also difficult to be sure whether or not something is contributing much to the flavour unless you taste the same thing without that ingredient! They were chewy cookies rather than crisp biscuits, which isn't a problem, although Dan's description of them as 'supercharged ginger nuts' might leave expectations of crisp biscuits!


Foodycat said...

They sound great! The tamarind concentrate I have is really full-flavoured, I don't know how you can replicate that with the block.

Glace ginger is quite common in Australia; it hadn't occurred to me that you don't see it here!

MissCakeBaker said...

I was just reading this recipe on dan lepard's page today from the weekend's guardian. They sound great - so different from normal cookies.

Choclette said...

How interesting Suelle - Dan certainly knows how to surprise. Would never have thought of using tamerind or garam masala. Using real tamarind pulp is much nicer than the concentrate you can buy, but no idea about how much you'd need - maybe concentrate would work better in cookies as you wouldn't want anything to wet. I was hoping to meet Dan on Monday at the Eden Project, but his plane was cancelled and he didn't make it :( I (CT actually) was lugging his book around all day so I could get him to sign it - hey ho!

Anyway, your biscuits look delicious and as a spice lover I'm sure they were.

Kate@whatkatebaked said...

These look perfect biccies for these dark, cold Autumnal nights! I love Dan's recipes Suelle- do you have his new book?

Suelle said...

Foodycat - it hadn't occurred to me that the jars of concentrate might be better flavoured than a block of tamarind. My commercial paste (Barts) is 34% tamarind; what I made from the block was 40%, but I've just stuck my finger in the Barts jar and it is sourer, even though it has sugar in it, as well as salt.

MissCakeBaker - you can rely on Dan to come up with unusual flavour combinations.

Choclette - what a disappointment - it's quite a heavy book to carry around all day!

Kate - yes, I do have the book. The Royal Mail was a day late delivering it and I was ranting at Amazon because it hadn't arrived in time. Very informative, even for experienced bakers and it's nice to get so many of the Guardian recipes in one place.

Baking Addict said...

What an interesting combination of flavours. Its a shame your tamarind flavour was lost in the spices but sounds delicious nonetheless.

snowy said...

I'd ear-marked this recipe to try; they sound good - lovely flavour combination.
Where would I find tamarind of any kind?

Suelle said...

Snowy - I can buy jars of Tamarind concentrate - Bart brand - from the spice sections in my local supermarkets. I think I've seen Tesco's own brand in the Cook's Ingredients section - often near the World Food, which is another place to look if it's not with the spices.

I like to add a teaspoonful to tagines to balance the sweetness - especially if I don't have any preserved lemons, but there's only about 50g in a jar, so you'll need half a jar for the biscuits.

C said...

They look great - and good feedback on the balance of flavours and the texture. I would certainly have expected a crisp biscuit with the description of supercharged gingernuts. I might try them with mixed spice if I can't be bothered to get garam masala!

celia said...

Suelle, I've never thought of using tamarind in something sweet - growing up my mother only ever used it in curries and stews. This sounds intriguing, thank you!

Suelle said...

Dan also has a recipe for a Tamarind Date Cake which is worth trying - it gives a lovely flavour to cakes.