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Came across your website at work on Friday. It sparked mass biscuit debate, a most healthy and enlightening subject.
I wonder if you could settle an argument re: the jammie dodger. Several of us are convinced that in some circumstances the jam filling is supplemented by a `custard cream` style filling, whilst others think we are talking complete bourbon cream. So is the biscuit complete fantasy or does it exist?
Also we were intregued by the biscuit of the week, the hapless `Noblice`.
We do have regular contests when we go abroad to bring back the most strangely named snack. Recently whilst in Belguim, I got hold of some `Plop` biscuits. Photo of packet attached. We soon realised why they are so named their dunkability rating was somewhere around minus 3 and `Plop` was the sound the biscuit made on it's way to the bottom of your mug! More worryingly each biscuit was individually wrapped with a picture of a gnome-type man wearing a pair of pants on his head!!
Anyway keep up the dunking and the good work.
The IT development team at a police force that shall rename anonymous for fear of public resentment of our shared bicuit enjoyment!
|Nicey replies: Nick,
Good work on the plops, they seem to have tried to paper over the cracks by diverting our attention to the chap with half an oven ready chicken in a red jumper on his head. Still well done the Belgians this is certainly a ridiculous name that deserves to be up there in the pantheon of dreadful names.
As for Jammie Dodgers they always have some form of viscous jammy glue inside and never a cream filling as in the case of the much admired Jam Cream Sandwich. Recent Vanilla Thriller Jammie Dodgers did have weird whitish sort of jam in them too, but in all honesty this was very much like jam with a dash of white emulsion paint in it (technically true as titanium oxide was used, the same white compound used in paints and horseradish sauce).
||I'm writing to you as an American who has recently begun a love affair with tea and biscuits, to inform you that you are much to blame.|
Although I was born and raised in the American Midwest, I've always been a bit of an Anglophile - eschewing action movies and MTV in favor of staying up late watching old BBC shows on public television.
If you have any American readers ask you where they can buy proper biscuits in the states, you should tell them to see if they have a store called "World Market" in their area. It's a chain of about 300 stores, and really the only part of the country they haven't spread to yet is the Northeast. (http://www.worldmarket.com/) They carry furniture and goods from all over the world, plus lots of tasty imported foods. I became a regular at our local World Market a year or so ago, when I discovered that they had an amazing selection of tasty European chocolate bars. I confess to being a complete Ritter Sport addict, especially the "butter cookie" and "milk chocolate hazelnut" varieties.
Then, this summer I moved into an apartment across the street from the store, and I began visiting much more frequently and trying a lot of new things. Well, really I only got as far as the biscuit aisle and have gotten hooked. I started with the Jaffa Cakes and Jammie Dodgers, but was still skeptical of the Digestive. Then I somehow stumbled upon an article about Custard Creams online a few months back, and ended up at your website.
I have always liked tea, although it is a bit sacreligious in the coffee-obsessed Pacific Northwest part of the country, where I live now. I have to confess though, that until recently I mostly drank herbal "tea", not realizing how good proper tea could be. Everyone I had ever known brewed their tea the same way - by plopping a couple tea bags into a pot and just letting it sit there forever, resulting in bitter, stewed tea. I have since learned the error of my ways (thanks to encouragement from your website and book) and now drink loads of proper tea (with milk and one sugar). I have even procured some PG Tips, which certainly is better than any American brands of tea I've tried. I've become such a tea fanatic I've even bought myself an electric kettle (brilliant! why doesn't everyone else have these?) and my friends and family think I'm crazy.
I've learned to love the digestive, of course. It's the perfect companion to tea! The selection at World Market is varied and unpredictable, but they always have plain and milk chocolate McVitie's digestives, as well as Crawford's Bourbons and Custard Creams (yummy), plus usually Penguins and Cadbury Fingers. Occasionally they will have Gingernuts, Fruit Shortcake, Garibaldis, McVitie's Chocolate Caramel, etc. I recently picked up a packet of Plain Chocolate digestives, which only make occasional appearances on the shelves. My favorite biscuit though has to be the Hob Nob. Until recently I had only tried the Milk Chocolate, but I spied the plain ones on the shelf the other day, and my are they delicious. I prefer to eat the less chocolatey-sweet biscuits at work, as too much sugar makes it hard to type straight.
I have to say that as much of a fan of Cadbury's chocolate I am, I don't like their biscuits. Too sugary for me, and not in a good way. Don't get me wrong, I like my sweets, but Cadbury's biscuits make me feel like I'm just eating spoonfuls of sugar.
This is turning into quite a long message, but I just have one more thing to add:
Regarding fruitcake in the States - I saw an expat reader of yours mention that she had noticed a certain negative attitute towards fruitcake over here. That is certainly true. Fruitcake is legendary for being an horrifically dense, overly sweet dessert that little old ladies bake and give away as Christmas gifts. The story goes that when you receive a fruitcake as a gift, you should not eat it, but rather try to pawn it off as a gift to someone else - or failing that, stick it in the back of the cupboard until next year, when you dust it off and try to give it away again. I don't know anyone that actually eats fruitcake, except for possibly some little old ladies. I may have tried some at my grandmother's house as a child, but I don't really remember. However, I did try some at a fancy tea party that I attended at a fancy hotel last Christmas, and found that it had a very strong brandy flavor, which does not appeal to me at all, and decided to avoid it in the future. Your rhapsodizing about the perfect fruitcake might make me reconsider, though, and attempt to bake my own this Christmas. Maybe.
That's all for now. Keep up the good work!
|Nicey replies: You seem to making very good progress towards a completely well balanced tea and biscuits outlook. The fruit cake will come in time. Ours is a very tasty and relatively light recipe not like those dark tarry masses that appear to have given it such a bad reputation in the US. I would have tough the Pacific North West is probably ideal fruit cake territory, providing it doesn't attract bears.
Vimto and Vanilla Thriller Jammie Dodgers Review
|Dear Nicey and Wifey|
I was relaxing at home with my wife last night when she suddenly remembered a rather exciting biscuit purchase she'd made before. She'd been looking for plain chocolate digestives in Asda, she said, when she found some limited edition jammy dodgers which purported to include not only the standard jam but also custard. Intrigued, I went into the kitchen and retrieved the biscuits.
Unfortunately, the experience was far from magical. I wasn't expecting anything remotely resembling real custard, but hoped for at least a rhubarb-and-custard style dichotomy between the biscuit layers. It wasn't to be, though - the custard was stretchy and sticky like the jam, and tasted the same as well, leading me to believe that these weren't in fact jammy dodgers containing custard, merely jammy dodgers in which half of the jam had been artificially manipulated to look like custard.
Aside from this, the usual jammy dodger setbacks remained. The horizontal packaging style always leaves the jam/custard from the biscuits in the top layer stuck to the wrapper and unsalvageable. Why do they do this? I suspect it's to make the packet of biscuits seem larger - if they were stacked vertically in the normal fashion they'd never get away with only giving you twelve in the packet. Also the extreme stickiness of the filling prevented any meaningful enjoyment being extracted from separating the biscuits - they simply crumbled in my hands.
I know this isn't really feedback of the variety people normally send into you, I just thought it was important that you were made aware of this gimmicky, facile biscuit. I was going to send some in to you so you could test out their custard-ness for yourselves, but unfortunately I'd eaten all of them by the time I'd made up my mind. My wife wasn't too happy about that either.
|Nicey replies: Yes they sound almost identical to the Vanilla Thriller Jammie Dodgers we reviewed a while back. Definitely one of those occasions when something sounds much better on paper. I think Jammie Dodgers are only ever going to be two biscuits connected with a squirt of jammie glue. Much as we can imagine them morphing into a new higher form that has a layer of something else in there its never going to happen.
I'm glad you raised the rhubarb and custard point. Nanny Nicey has always said there should be a Rhubarb and Custard cream biscuit. Indeed a couple of years ago I was invited into the Sainsbury's mothership to talk about ideas for new biscuits and suggested this. It was very well received and they even got Fox's involved who did some brainstorming around the idea, with various classic British Puddings interpreted through the medium of biscuits being suggested, but it never proceeded further. It would be a terrific biscuit though.
Jam Sandwich Creams Review
|Without wanting to re-ignite the Jaffa Cake/Buscuit debate, I was grazing through my confection cupboard the other day and randomly selected three items to nibble on with a nice cup of tea.|
I switched on the telly, had a quick slurp of tea and proceeded to pick up one of my nibbles.
It was with much amusement that I realised that all three items I had selected, whilst being entirely different products, were all based on the same basic fillings, to wit, raspberry jam and butter cream.
The items i had chosen were (in no particular order),
Fox's Jammy Dodger
Mr Kiplings Viennese Whirl
Morrisons Brand Butterfly Cake
This set me thinking. The Jammy Dodger is definately a buscuit and the Butterfly Cake is certainly a cake, but there seems to be a grey area, a sort of transition zone, in which the Viennese Whirl sits, being a sort of hybrid Buscuit come Cake.
After a period of reflection I related this to my wife, Tracy, who informed me that the Viennese Whirl was neither cake nor buscuit but a pastry and that I was stupid.
Does anyone have any comments on the above?
|Nicey replies: Right a great deal to get through here. First off that's a Jam Cream Sandwich which Fox's are building there, a Jammie Dodger is not only different not having cream, but is a built solely by Burtons. Its a bit like calling your Dyson Vacuum cleaner a Hoover. Sorry for the pedantic bit there but I would be remiss if I didn't wade in.
Any how the Mr Kipling Viennese whirl is avery undervalued thing, and in a great many European countries would get away with calling itself what ever it fancied. Cake or biscuit they wouldn't really care. However in the UK it would have to be a cake, and not just beacuse as we all know, Mr Kipling makes exceedingly good ones, and he made these, but also because I don't think it can be classed as a pastry as it has raising in it. If it was a pastry I would probably just join a circle straight to cakes in the mighty NCOTAASD Venn Diagram of such things which is always open for a bit of a fiddling with.
Marvelous job on the book, I chortle through my tea breaks at work with your lovely book in my hands (can make dunking a bit tricky, mind you).
It might interest you to know that where I work is a milkshake bar called ShakeAway (please do log on at www.shakeaway.com theres a picture of me "Scarlett of the Brighton shakette clan" and a rather fun game involving a space hopper and seagulls, anyway I digress...)
At ShakeAway we make milkshakes out of just about everything you can imagine, including some old favorites of yours, the jaffa cake, digestives, hob nobs, bourbon creams, jammie wagon wheels, bakewell tart, custard creams and jammie dodgers to name but a few. There is a full list of ingredients on site for you to marvel at, 150 in all, and still the list grows. We have recently added sugar puffs, crunchie nut cornflakes, caramel shortbread and double decker.
It may be considered as biscuit dunking herecy, but I'm going to say it anyway; Since working at ShakeAway I have discovered that those little black circular American Oreo Cookies make for very good dunking, apart from leaving little black specks in your tea. They are similar to bourbons in their taste, but the white cream in the middle adds something a little extra special.
|Nicey replies: I think I would need to see this all first hand in order to be convinced, although with your growing empire it appears that people like liquidised biscuits. You certainly have a lot of useful flavours in there including Custard, and Custard Creams covering all possible bases. Horrah! for all your mad milkshakes.
Do you serve tea?