BraveTart: Make Your Own Biscoff Cookies
I don't know that there remains any praise for Biscoff that Francis Lam has not already articulated. Rather than try to out-prose the man who wrote of cookies that "taste beautifully and comfortingly of warm spices, caramel, and wheat", I've decided to tackle Biscoff from a different angle; as a chef, not a writer.
Typical "Biscoff" recipes call for a wide array of spices and also butter, two things totally not involved in real Biscoff. Cinnamon alone spices Biscoff and they rely on oil rather than butter for their unique texture; a dash of soy flour also comes into play, too. So. How to make them at home?
I started out with a little research and a found a recipe for "Dutch Butter Cakes" from a 19th century English cookbook aptly titled The Complete Biscuit and Gingerbread Baker's Assistant.
I scaled down the recipe dramatically, from 8 pounds of flour to 8 ounces and wrote the ingredients in a list from greatest to least so I could compare it in a more meaningful way to the ingredients on the Biscoff package (listed in the same order).
Dutch Butter Cakes: flour, brown sugar, butter, baking soda, cinnamon, water
Biscoff: flour, sugar, oil, brown sugar, baking soda, soy flour, cinnamon
With both relying on roughly the same set of ingredients, I had a good place to start.
For the first batch, I began by swapping out the butter for oil and slipping in a little soy flour. I used roasted soy flour, also known as kinako, because it has a sweeter, nuttier flavor than plain soy flour. Initially, I wanted to trade some of the brown sugar for white to more closely mimic the Biscoff formula, but had a suspicion that the blend may have had more to do with quirks of industrial production than flavor.
I got to baking and soon had a batch of super delightfully cinnamon-y cookies with a huge crunch, but not close enough by any stretch. Biscoff have a Frito-like balance of greasiness and crunch, just painted in cinnamon and sugar rather than corn and salt. My first attempt utterly lacked that quality; they were crisp but not rich. And despite relying solely on brown sugar, they had a pale tan color far lighter than a Biscoff.
On round two, I upped the oil a full ounce, decreased the water and switched to dark brown sugar. I also cranked the oven to 375° F after reading Biscoff's official description of how they achieve their caramelized flavor. This batch baked up darker, fattier, and with a more full fledged caramel flavor.
I made a half dozen more batches after that, tinkering with baking soda, kinako, and cinnamon to get the balance right and eventually found a ratio that tasted how I thought they should. I didn't know, however, how to master the Biscoff look. With Fauxreos, I paid tribute to the Oreo design with a little cornelli work. But Biscoff don't have such a classic appearance.
With at least six different designs already in official use, I figured why not introduce one more? I kept the shape rectangular, in homage of the original, with fluted edges to symbolize Biscoff's scalloped shape. And a heart because, well, you know why.
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About the Author: Stella Parks suffers from an unhealthy obsession with recreating the mass produced snacks of her childhood, but ironically is employed by a Frenchman to make the high brow desserts of his childhood. She blogs that dichotomy at bravetart.com and can be followed on Twitter at @thebravetart.