I saw a picture of these biscuits (or cookies), and they looked very delicious. So much so that I took the uncharacteristic step of actually making them. They were indeed among the most delicious biscuits of which I am aware. And yet I don’t recall hearing of them before. This seems like a telling sign about something. (The capitalist machinery? Culture? Industrial food production constraints? The vagaries of individual enjoyment?)
Why doesn’t the market offer these delicious biscuits all over the place? Isn’t this just the kind of rival, excludable, information-available, well-internalized good that markets are on top of?
Some explanations that occur to me:
- I am wrong or unusual in my assessment of deliciousness, and for instance most people would find a chocolate chip cookie or an Oreo more delicious.
- They are harder to cook commercially than the ubiquitous biscuits for some reason. e.g. they are most delicious warm.
- They are Swedish, and there are mysterious cultural or linguistic barriers to foods spreading from their original homes. This would also help explain some other observations, to the extent that it counts as an explanation at all.
- Deliciousness is not a central factor in food spread. (Then what is?)
If you want to help investigate, you can do so by carrying out the following recipe and reporting on the percentile of deliciousness of the resulting biscuits. (I do not claim that this is a high priority investigation to take part in, unless you are hungry for delicious biscuits or a firsthand encounter with a moderately interesting sociological puzzle.)
(Or Kolasnittar. Adapted from House & Garden’s account of a recipe in Magnus Nilsson’s “The Nordic Baking Book”. It’s quite plausible that their versions are better than mine, which has undergone pressure for ease plus some random ingredient substitutions. However I offer mine, since it is the one I can really vouch for.)
Takes about fifteen minutes of making, and fifteen further minutes of waiting. Makes enough biscuits for about five people to eat too many biscuits, plus a handful left over. (Other recipe calls it about 40 ‘shortbreads’)
- 200 g melted butter (e.g. microwave it)
- 180 g sugar
- 50 g golden syrup
- 50g honey
- 300 g flour, ideally King Arthur gluten free flour, but wheat flour will also do
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 good pinches of salt
- Preheat oven: 175°C/345°F
- Put everything in a mixing bowl (if you have kitchen scales, put the mixing bowl on them, set scales to zero, add an ingredient, reset scales to zero, add the next ingredient, etc.)
- Taste [warning: public health officials say not to do this because eating raw flour is dangerous]. Adjust mixedness, saltiness, etc. It should be very roughly the consistency of peanut butter, i.e. probably less firm than you expect. (Taste more, as desired. Wonder why we cook biscuits at all. Consider rebellion. Consider Chesterton’s fence. Taste one more time.)
- Cover a big tray or a couple of small trays with baking paper.
- Make the dough into about four logs, around an inch in diameter, spaced several inches from one another and the edges of the paper. They can be misshapen; their shapes are temporary.
- Cook for about 15 minutes, or until golden and spread out into 1-4 giant flat seas of biscuit. When you take them out, they will be very soft and probably not appear to be cooked.
- As soon as they slightly cool and firm up enough to pick up, start chopping them into strips about 1.25 inches wide and eating them.
Bonus mystery: they are gluten free, egg free, and can probably easily be dairy free. The contest with common vegan and/or gluten free biscuit seems even more winnable, so why haven’t they even taken over that market?