A couple of weeks ago, my family and I had a wonderful vacation in London. So while I know most of you see cookies, we're actually talking about biscuits today. British biscuits, that is. In general, British biscuits are what we call cookies in America, with the distinction that biscuits are of the crunchy, drier variety that's so perfect with a cup of tea!
Tea and biscuits go hand in hand. Think of the history and tradition of taking tea and you can understand the natural pairing of sweet crunchy biscuits such as shortbread. I naturally gravitate towards soft, chewy, gooey cookies but it never ceases to amaze me how good a simple biscuit is when I do have it. Tins of Royal Dansk butter cookies are part of my earliest childhood biscuit/cookie memories and growing up during the first handful of my years in Hong Kong, British foods, including biscuits, have a special place in my heart.
It's always fun to pay homage to something by making something to eat! Our trip to London was such fun - we were lucky to enjoy great weather and we soaked up the beautiful city, friendly people, and classic eats. From Sunday roast to afternoon tea, it was wonderful to be in a place so familiar, yet so different from home.
One of the best experiences I had in London was afternoon tea. My fellas and I enjoyed all the comfort and deliciousness of a true English tea experience at Fortnum & Mason (which, incidentally, is now my favorite shop in the world). Honestly, I had modest expectations (because, so often, afternoon tea looks appealing but doesn't quite match up taste-wise) but I walked away realizing that afternoon tea can not only look beautiful but also taste incredible. Everything - from savory to sweet - was delectable, enjoyed leisurely in a beautiful and comfortable setting.
While it might be fun to recreate afternoon tea at home one day, I started with a small inspiration to pay homage to afternoon tea. My son had the children's array of afternoon tea eats and among the treats on the top of his 3-tier cake stand was a Jammy (or "Jammie") Dodger, or so we were told. It was a simple shortbread sandwich biscuit (cookie) filled with jam; they're much like linzer torte cookies, minus the almond meal. Jammie Dodgers are apparently a very popular children (and adult) biscuit in the UK, made by Burton's Biscuit Co. for over 50 years. If you're wondering about the "Dodgers" part of the name, it was named after a comic strip character.
Maybe it's the catchy name but the little biscuit stuck with me and I made a small batch of them at home to enjoy with my family. These shortbread biscuits are tender and buttery, plus they melt in your mouth thanks to the powdered sugar used in the dough. Jammy Dodgers are usually filled with strawberry or raspberry jam; I filled mine with strawberry and apricot jam and breaking away with the "rules", I also sandwiched a few with Nutella for my son.
Much to everyone's surprise (particularly his own), the 11-year old truly enjoyed the formal afternoon tea experience and while he wasn't eager to attack his Jammy Dodger there (he's not a fan of fruit jams unless it's in a tri-color cookie), he was a huge fan of my at-home Nutella version. He's asked me to make more again for him soon - now I call that a successful bake!