You just might have caught on to the fact that I like to make food for special occasions. I also like to invent special occasion to make food.
I made it through the day without burning myself = special dinner (not last night I burned myself on the stove… those bars are hot even after you turn off the flame!). It’s the first/last day of the month/year/season = special baked goodie and my favourite invention of all is putting up the Christmas tree day where I bake my first ham for the season.
One occasion I didn’t have to make up was the engagement of one of my girlfriends. Having just been through it myself I know what an exciting, special time it is and I was am thrilled for her.
Naturally I had to honor it with food. I first saw tea bag biscuits on Pinterest (surprise surprise) but they weren’t actually linked to the creator so I had to wing it in making my own. They were a little bit fiddly but I was pretty pleased with the end result.
My usual test of whether something looks like what I want it to look like is to shove it in Will’s face the second he gets home from work along with ‘what do these look like.’ The poor man has just gotten off the bus and the response is usually a little guarded.
On this particular day his guess was ‘luggage tags.’ I took that as a win – they’re pretty similar. In fact it inspired another idea that is formulating as I type.
I used Not Quite Nigella’s sugar biscuit recipe (thanks Lorraine!) for the biscuits. It’s a crunchy, sweet biscuit that holds its shape well with just a bit of spreading when it’s baked so it’s perfect for a boxy shape. You don’t want the corners rounding out.
Start by beating the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until they are light and fluffy. It’s a funny word to describe butter and sugar – there’s not really anything light about it.
Once it is ‘light and fluffy’ add the egg and vanilla and beat them through. Scrape down the sides and the beater and beat it again just until the scrapings are mixed in.
Add the flour and mix it in until the dough comes together.
Turn it out onto a piece of plastic wrap and shape it into a disc. Wrap the dough up and pop it in the fridge for at least one hour to firm up.
I highly emphasise flouring the bench before you roll the dough out. The first time I thought baking paper would be enough. It stuck, got messy and I had to re-shape and re-chill the dough.
When you have rolled it out to about 1cm thickness, use a teabag as a template and cut out the shapes. You can re-roll the scrap pieces of dough but they might need a bit of extra chilling if they get too soft.
Place the teabag-shaped dough on a baking paper lined tray and use a pointed knife or skewer to poke a hole in the top of each biscuit. Don’t forget this step because it will be mighty tricky to get the thread through later without a hole.
Bake the biscuits at 200C fan-forced for 7-10 minutes or until they start to turn golden.
Leave them to rest on the tray for 5 minutes just to firm up.
The ones that got a bit bloated in the middle were a bit too thick. It’s best to keep the dough nice and thin.
Then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
When the biscuits have cooled it’s time to melt the chocolate. I’ll leave the method up to you but I’m a big fan of the microwave. I start with 30 seconds, stir then 20 seconds and a lot of stirring usually makes it nice and smooth.
One by one, dip the biscuits into the chocolate and shake off any excess.
Carefully lay them out on a sheet of non-stick paper to set.
It is this step that is by far the most time-consuming and likely to induce bouts of swearing. It is extremely fiddly starting with getting the thread through the hole to tying a double knot in the string. I used just regular sewing thread but if you can get something a little thicker it might be easier.
It took me about half an hour to do 12! I’m a bit of a fumbler when it comes to delicate things though so you might have more luck.
Once you’ve threaded all the strings on, attach the labels. The best method I could think of was to print them on an extra long piece of paper and fold them in half around the string then stick them together with glue.
You could punch a hole in them but that would mean another hole to thread the string through and you really don’t want to make that process any more complicated.
Then all there is left to do is make yourself a cup of tea and dunk your tea bag biscuit inside oh and give them away to the recipient. Enjoy!
What about you? Do you like to give homemade gifts?
- 85g (3oz) butter, softened
- 140g (5oz) white caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 180g (6.3oz) plain AP flour
- 100g (3.5oz) dark chocolate
- Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and vanilla and beat until mixed in.
- Scrape down the sides and the beater and beat again to incorporate the scraped bits.
- Add the flour and beat it through until the dough comes together.
- Shape the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C(392F) fan-forced and line two baking trays with baking paper.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll the dough out to 1cm thickness.
- Use a teabag as a template and cut out tea bag shapes with a sharp knife.
- Place the biscuits on the lined baking trays leaving 2cm between each one and then use the tip of a knife or skewer to pierce a hole in the top of each one.
- Bake the biscuits for 7-10 minutes or until they start to turn golden.
- Leave them on the tray for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Melt the chocolate and one at a time dip the biscuits into the chocolate so it comes half way up.
- Shake off the excess and then gently lay the biscuits on a sheet of non-stick paper.
- When the chocolate has set, thread a piece of thread through the hole and then tie in a double knot.
- Attach the labels.