Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Retro Baking: Monte Carlo biscuits
I love a great retro recipe, especially one that improves on the original. The Monte Carlo is a classic. Manufactured by Arnotts since 1926, I never thought it would be something I would actually make. I've made melting moments and shortbread creams, but a Monte Carlo? It's essentially vanilla cream and jam sandwiched together by two coconutty buttery biscuits. It sounds pretty good to me and I have to admit, the Monte Carlo is usually the first thing that disappears from an Arnotts assortment whenever I am around.
So when I chanced upon a recipe for them in the Sydney Morning Herald, I was intrigued. Can you actually improve upon perfection? Would a homemade version really taste that much better to warrant the effort of making them yourself?
The answer is a resounding yes. These buttery coconut cookies are short and crumbly, the vanilla cream sweet and mellow. The jam provides a hint of tartness, the perfect foil for the rich crumbly biscuit and cream. One is enough but you could easily eat 10. best make them and give them to friends or invite people over for tea and biscuits. They'll be surprised at how good a commercial classic is when it's homemade. I know I was and this will now enter my regular baking repertoire.
190g butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla essence
125g brown sugar
1 large egg
150g self-raising flour
100g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
75g dessicated coconut
1/2 cup raspberry jam (I favour Bonne Maman French jam)
For the cream filling
75g butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp milk
190g icing sugar
Preheat oven to 180C. Beat butter, vanilla and sugar with an electric mixer until just combined. Add egg and beat to combine. Sift flours with bicarb soda and add to butter mixture in two batches, alternating with coconut. Mix well.
Roll two teaspoons of mixture into ovals, place on lined oven trays and flatten slightly with the back of a fork or two fingers, pressing gently on the dough. Allow room for some spreading. Bake for seven minutes to 10 minutes. Remove and cool on trays for a few minutes and then remove to a rack to cool completely.
To make the filling, beat butter, vanilla, milk and icing sugar, in a food processor until fluffy. Place a small amount of raspberry jam on the flat side of one biscuit and spread some icing on the flat side of a similar -sized biscuit. Sandwich biscuits together. Repeat with remaining biscuits. I made about 20 filled biscuits but mine were a little larger than the recipe calls for. Absolutely delicious with a cup of tea and a chat with good friends.