If you’re anything like me, I bet you have a list of favorite things—especially food things—that have long since gone the way of the dodo. Stuff you loved and looked forward to, and then one day you went to the store to buy more and poof! Gone. Discontinued. Abandoned. Or even worse, still available but…NEW! AND IMPROVED! Which is usually marketing-speak for “We’ve screwed around with it so badly that it no longer bears even a passing resemblance to the (fill in the blank) that you knew and loved. But we’ll still charge you more.” Sometimes, if you got really lucky, you’d get wind of the impending disappearance or change and you’d hit every store for miles around to stock up for the coming apocalypse. Then you’d get all miserly with your stash, analyzing the merits of every occasion to determine if it was worthy of a splurge. (And sometimes you were wrong. Sometimes you’d use your very last bottle of Jardine’s green olive vinaigrette on a completely unappreciative audience who had NO RESPECT for the great gift you’d bestowed upon them. Not that we are bitter or anything…) You all but held a wake when you got down to the Very Last One and just about cried when it was gone. Most times though, you were taken by surprise and, um, SOL as the saying goes. (Sooo out of luck, amirite? Sure!)
That’s how it was with me and my beloved Sunshine raisin biscuits. I lived in blissful ignorance, never once thinking that anyone would dare get rid of what was, in my estimation the Best. Cookie. Ever. And yet, they did indeed get unceremoniously dumped, sometime in the 90s. Bereft and hopeless, I willed myself to forget them. And forget I did until I was having a conversation with a friend recently about favorite Trader Joe’s products that no longer exist (I love TJ’s but they’re notorious for sending things into the cornfield), when the long suppressed memory of those delectable biscuits popped back into my consciousness and a light bulb went off. Could I, would I be able to recreate them in my very own kitchen? Would they hold up to admittedly idealized memory I held so dear? And the answer—after much searching of the interwebs and mucking about in the kitchen—is: Sort of. You really need to look at these as the tribute band of the cookie world–not the real thing but an incredible simulation.
And now a word from Caption Obvious: These are not the prettiest cookies you’ll ever make. Nope, they’re not cute, certainly not elegant. The best you can say maybe is…rustic. And not to put to fine a point on it, but there’s a very good reason they’re also called Squashed Fly cookies… No, no one’s going to look at them and squeal, “Omigosh! I can’t believe you MADE these!” More like, “I can’t believe you made THESE!” At least until they taste them. Because they’re good. REALLY good. (Not to mention ridiculously easy and fast to make.) Chewy, slightly sweet, slightly tangy, with a crunchy topping of coarse sugar and a crispy snap…yeah, cookie perfection. Traditionally, they’re made with raisins (cue Captain Obvious again), dark or golden, and/or currents. But I’ve bucked tradition here and made them not only with raisins, but with dried goldenberries (gooseberries), cranberries and blueberries too. The results were…AWESOME. (In fact, I may even like some of them better than the originals but if you quote me on that I’ll deny ever saying it.)
So here’s to the raisin (or fruit of your choice) biscuit cookie. We’re no longer at the mercy of the corporate machine. We can have our cookies anywhere, anytime. We can dunk them, snack on them, pack them for lunch, take them on picnics*…we’ve got our cookie and it’s one for the ages. TAKE THAT, KEEBLER!
P.S. Yes, I KNOW they’re also called Garibaldi biscuits and are available all over the UK. It’s not the same, dammit. I want my Sunshine cookies.
P.S. 2 Is it a biscuit or is it a cookie? In the U.S., a biscuit is a raised, floury baked thing while a cookie is a…cookie. (Technical, arent I?) In the U.K., a cookie is called a biscuit. Unless it’s also called a cookie. I’m addicted to the Great British Bake Off and even THEY can’t get it straight. I have no idea what they call a biscuit. I’m calling this one a biscuit cookie. Something for everyone.
*P.S.3 About that picnic thing…my beloved raisin biscuits are my first post with the Creative Cookie Exchange—a group of dedicated bakers and all around cool peeps—whose theme for this month is…Pack for a Picnic Cookies. I sort of eased that picnic thing in there, didn’t I?
P.S.4 Don’t forget to click the links below to see the what the other members of Creative Cookie Exchange came up with this month.
raisin biscuit cookies
- 110 g all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
- 25 g unsalted butter cold, cut into cubes
- 25 g granulated sugar
- 1 large egg yolk reserve the white
- 3 tbsp milk
- 100 g dried fruit
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- Sparkling turbinado or sugar of choice for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
- Add the flour, baking powder and sea salt to the bowl of a stand mixer. With the paddle, mix on low speed to combine.
- Add the butter, then mix until the butter is pea sized.
- Stir together the egg yolk and milk, then add to the bowl and mix at low speed until just combined.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Roll into a rectangle approximately 7’x11″, flouring as needed to make sure the dough doesn’t stick and keeping the rectangle vertical.
- Scatter the dried fruit over the lower half of the dough, pressing in lightly. Sprinkle with the lemon zest.
- Fold the top half of the dough over the fruit and press the edges to seal.
- Roll out to another 7″x11″ rectangle, again flouring lightly as needed.
- Trim the edges to neaten, then cut in two lengthwise. Cut each length into 4 or 8 pieces. (Don’t toss the trimmed bits, they bake up great.)
- Whisk the reserved egg white with 1 Tbsp. water, then lightly brush the tops of the cookies with the mixture and sprinkle with sugar.
- Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes til golden brown.
- Cool in a wire rack and store in an airtight container.
I prefer dried fruit that’s sweetened with juice, not extra sugar. It gives the fruit a much, um… fruitier flavor and some extra tartness too. I buy everything at Nuts.com. Not only do they have great products and the best customer service–I placed an order one day, got a shipping confirmation within 15 minutes and received my order the next day–but they’ve got the world’s cutest packaging too. No sponsorship, no affiliate link, just a plain old recommendation from a very satisfied customer.
If you try other dried fruits, you may not need the extra tartness of the lemon zest, although it certainly doesn’t hurt. Up to you, taste your fruit to see if it’s zingy enough for you.