A few summers ago, while R. and I were on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, I became mildly obsessed with digestive biscuits. What can I say, walking 25 kilometres a day can make a girl a little peckish.
Fortunately, the hip straps on my day pack conveniently had little zippered pouches on either side, perfect for a bag of nuts or—when I was feeling particularly ambitious (greedy?)—a roll of milk chocolate-covered digestive biscuits.
I'll be the first to admit that it's sort of an odd thing to develop a taste for while walking across Spain (and believe me when I say that local food was the norm, not the exception, for us). Anyone who has spent any time travelling, however, can attest to finding (and wanting!) the strangest foods in the most unexpected places.
Like you'll be sleeping on a Chinese junk in the middle of Ha Long Bay, in Vietnam, when you swear you hear someone calling: "You buy something?"
"Impossible," you think. "I'm in the middle of the ocean. It's just me, the floating school and all of the other North American tourists on their Chinese junks."
Then you look out your porthole window to find a Vietnamese woman rowing a boat full of Ritz crackers and Oreo cookies.
When you think about it, coming across McVitie's Milk Chocolate Digestives from the U.K. in Spain—even remote rural Spain—is about 1/10th as impressive as finding U.S.-based Nabisco's Oreos in the middle of the South China Sea. Just saying.
Milk Chocolate Digestives
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat bran
5 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons milk or cream
~1/2 bag of milk chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, bran, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cream of tartar. Add the butter and shortening and blend using a pastry blender. At this point, the mixture should be crumbly, but uniform. Add the vanilla and milk/cream, mixing until the dough resembles Play-Doh. Cover and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
Roll out the dough between two pieces of waxed paper to 1/8" thick. Cut out shapes (round being classic), and carefully transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Prick each cookie several times with a fork. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until lightly golden. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for several minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Spread the bottoms of the cooled cookies with melted chocolate. Let the chocolate set before eating the cookies or storing them in an airtight container.
Note: I used milk chocolate instead of the recommended semi-sweet chocolate, 'cause that's how I like my digestives. Plus, I stirred in a small dab of shortening to keep things smooth and spreadable.
Source: Thanks to the Obsessive Gardener's persistence, I was able to enjoy a decent homemade chocolate digestive on my very first try. Now, so can you.