I’ve become a hardcore cyclist. Well, if you’re picturing Tour de France, scrap that. My version is piling on as many layers of clothes and waterproofs as I own and braving the snow in my cornflower blue town bike. Yes, it snowed here this week, and instead of walking and taking a little longer to get to work, I slept those extra five minutes and took the trusty bike. Luckily the snow didn’t stick to the road this time.
Anyways. Petits Ecoliers. They’re a very popular biscuit in France, and literally mean ‘small schoolchildren’ (which sounds creepy in English but I assure you, in French it sounds normal). I used to have them all the time as an after-school snack. The base is a simple and not-too-sweet ‘petit beurre’ biscuit, and it is topped with a generous layer of chocolate. I like calling these biscuits, as opposed to cookies, because to me they are so far removed from the typical American cookie. Crisp, square, not-too-sweet, and subtle. The epitome of Frenchness.
nb. The biscuit base was easy to make, and turned out really crisp. I think it would make a great tart crust, and plan to try it out soon!
Makes about 25 biscuits.
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp baking powder
In a small pan, bring the butter, water, salt and sugar to a boil.
Leave to cool, stirring occasionally so that the butter does not harden on the surface. Cool until it has the consistency of a light custard.
In a large bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Pour the cooled butter mixture into the flour mixture, and stir using a wooden spoon. Do not over-mix, stop mixing as soon as a smooth dough is formed. Cover with dish cloth and leave to rest in the fridge for a minimum of three hours (can be left overnight).
Pre-heat oven to 170°C
Remove dough from fridge and roll between two pieces of greaseproof paper until it is about 3mm thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut the biscuits out. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 10-15 minutes (until edges begin to turn a light golden brown).
Remove them to a wire rack to cool.
200g milk chocolate (can be replaced by dark or white chocolate if you prefer)
Break half of the chocolate up into even pieces. Place in microwave-proof bowl. Place bowl in microwave and heat on medium setting, checking every few seconds that the chocolate is not fully melted. When it is mostly melted but a few lumps still remain, take the bowl out and stir until all lumps disappear. Leave to cool for about ten minutes so the chocolate thickens a bit. Put into a piping bag with 2mm nozzle and pipe borders on the cooled biscuits.
Break up the other half of the chocolate and repeat as above. This time, do not wait for the chocolate to cool and thicken. Immediately spoon into centre of biscuits using a small teaspoon. The borders previously piped will prevent the chocolate from leaking over the sides. Leave half an hour for the chocolate to set.
If desired, sift icing sugar over the top of a stencil to decorate.