Due to my son's intolerance to dairy products, I am always trying to find the perfect substitute for butter in my baking. Not the easiest task. It's true what they say: it really is better with butter. Dairy-free and soya spreads are ok for cakes and muffins, but I'm always a little put off by the almost curdled consistency you get when you beat in the eggs. Having said that, I find the cooked confection to be fine consistency-wise, and passable taste-wise. But when baking biscuits or pastry, soft spreads should be avoided like the plague - the dough is always too soft and greasy, and the biscuits are never firm and crunchy.
Then recently I had a flash of inspiration while buying my son's favourite goat's yoghurts pots. Goat's butter, of course! Just as hard and firm as a cold slab of cow's butter, and still essentially, well, butter.
So to test it out, and practice for Halloween, I came up with a twist on a classic gingerbread biscuit...
~ Ginger & Chocolate Biscuits ~
yield: 45-50 biscuits
350g plain flour (+ extra for dusting)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
110g goat's butter
70g golden castor sugar
3 tbsp rice syrup/golden syrup
icing sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour.
In a bowl, sift and combine the flour, cocoa, bicarb, cinnamon and ginger.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
Increase the speed of the mixer and beat in the egg and syrup.
Put the mixer on low speed and slowly add in the flour mix until you get a nice, firm dough.
Dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with flour and roll out your dough to about half a cm thick.
Using a cookie cutter, cut out your shapes and transfer to the baking sheet, leaving a little space between each biscuit.
Tip: to avoid breaking the delicate dough as you peel it off your surface, dip a palette knife in some flour and see how easy it is to transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet!
Bake for 8-10 mins and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
Once cool, dust lightly with icing sugar.
The goat's butter proved to be a huge success. The biscuits were perfectly biscuity and not a hint of goatiness, which I was a bit worried about. Delicious. However, there's always room for a little improvement so next time I might substitute the ground ginger for freshly grated ginger, and find a way to get some melted dark chocolate in there too... Just to really get the most out of the flavours.