Welcome back to the Biscuit People magazine once again! As we’ve reached certain milestones over the past few months, we thought it would be a great idea to do something different with today’s article. If you’ve been keeping up with our magazine, you’ll know that we’ve accumulated a large number of articles on biscuit types from all over the world. For now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the trip.
It seems we’re beginning our journey in the good ol’ United States of America. The first biscuit on our map is the American macaroon, an American version of the classic French macaron! A great choice for all of you who love the sweet taste of coconuts!
But how does it differ from its French cousin? Well, chances are that you’ve already seen how a French macaron looks like. It’s colourful and comes in the form of a biscuit sandwich. On the other hand, the American macaroon is primarily made out of coconut drops and looks like this:
Looks quite different from what you’re used to, doesn’t it? While its appearance might differ, the American macaroon is just as tasty, although it might not be to everyone’s taste. But as we’ve already mentioned, if you love the taste of coconuts, then you’ll love these biscuits as well.
But how did the American macaroons came to be? Well, coconuts were not a readily-available ingredient a couple of centuries ago. Coconuts are only found in exotic tropical climates, but due to Indian imports, they became quite common-place. In the nineteenth century, bakers used coconuts to “spice-up” the classic macarons recipe. The biscuits’ appearance changed along with the recipe.
Although the coconut variety of American Macaroons is the most popular version, there are other flavours as well. If coconut is not to your liking, then you might like the chocolate chip, chocolate dip or coffee flavours.
Moving on from the United States, it’s time go a little bit down south… The next biscuit on our list is the Brazilian sequilho!
What are the sequilhos? Well, the word sequilho comes from Portuguese, and it means “rusk”. What is rusk? Rusk is a type of light-bread dough which is baked twice (until it is brown, hard and crisp) and can be either sweet or plain. But does this definition apply to the sequilhos as well?
As we all knows, some things are lost in translation and some are misinterpreted. That’s why exceedingly “punny” jokes don’t work in foreign languages. But the Brazilian sequilhos come very close to the twice-baked light-bread dough called rusk.
Sequilhos are Brazilian (duh!) biscuits made with cornflour. If you happen to come across a Brazilian local, he or she will probably tell you that you can’t leave Brazil without tasting the sequilhos at least once. They’re so sweet and crisp that they melt in your mouth.
Every nation has its traditional biscuits. For the Brazilians, it is the sequilho. It is readily-available everywhere, from bakeries to supermarkets. They’re baked in bite-sized shapes, usually the size of a quarter dollar bill, and they’re really cheap.
If you’re ever in Brazil and want to get the real-deal, however, we suggest buying some sequilhos from small businesses and bakeries. The taste will be more genuine this way.
Now we’re getting to the good stuff! Celtic tribes and Romans? Connected with biscuits? That sounds like a recipe for a successful article!
Before we get into the good stuff with the Romans and everything, we have to ask ourselves a question: What are oatmeal biscuits? Well, if you happen to have a bit of sweet tooth but want to replace your preferred biscuits with something a bit healthier, look no further!
It is a well-known fact that oats are incredibly healthy. They’re nutritional and good for your body, and they can be made in the shape of biscuits. The great thing about oatmeal biscuits is that you have a lot of culinary freedom with them. You can take oats and combine them with different kinds of fruits, nuts, toppings and what-not…
You can even add some chocolate to really sweeten things up! They’ll still remain healthy while having an incredible taste!
But who do we have to thank for these incredible breakfast biscuits? That would be the Celtic tribes! The Romans conquered large swathes of the British isles during the reigns of notable emperors such as Trajan, and it was under his leadership that the Roman Empire reached its maximum territorial extent.
However, the Romans were unable to put down the tribes which inhabited modern-day Scotland. These tribes offered heavy resistance, so Trajan’s successor, Hadrian, decided to wall-off the northern-most border of the Roman Empire in Britannia.
But what enabled these tribes to fight off the Romans? Well, it was mostly due to their guerrilla tactics and the advantageous use of the local terrain. But these warriors needed proper nutrition to have the energy to fight the invaders back.
So it was that they used oats to consume their daily caloric needs. The oatmeal biscuits were later popularized in America and other parts of Europe via the different cookbooks.
The next biscuits on our list are the world-famous French macarons. You’ve probably already heard of these, remember? They’re those tasty, colourful biscuit sandwiches! But what are they?
Well, they’re sweet meringue-based biscuits made with egg white, granulated sugar, ground almonds, icing sugar and food colouring (hence the vibrant colours!). They’re so extremely popular that they can be found in most bakeries across the globe. They’re an especially popular choice for parties and other such events.
But what if we told you that their colour adds to their sweetness? And when we say colour, we don’t mean food colouring! According to famous researchers, such as Charles Spence from Oxford, colour can influence the way we perceive and taste food. No wonder then that the macarons are so popular. Who wouldn’t want a bite of these biscuits upon seeing them?
There are a lot of interesting facts to be learned about the macarons.
For now, we’re moving on from the French macarons to talk more about some very well-known German treats.
Ever been to Germany? Well, if you haven’t, we recommend visiting Nuremberg! Why? Well, the city of Nuremberg is host to one of the oldest and most beloved gingerbread biscuits, not just in Germany, but in the whole world!
The lebkuchen or gingerbread biscuits are baked goods with a tradition stretching back to the Middle Ages. Their tradition of lebkuchen baking in Nuremberg was started by the local friars. Why? Well, they were searching for a way to aid their digestion, especially during lent season. Our ancestors in the Middle Ages would bake pepper biscuits for this reason, but the necessary ingredients weren’t always available…
The people of the Holy Roman Republic depended on shipments of spice from the Venetian Republic. These shipments were scarce due to constant fighting between the Muslims and the Christians in the Middle-east. Even when these shipments arrived occasionally, the common folk had no way of obtaining them. Only the wealthiest had access to them.
Luckily for the friars in Nuremberg, they had access to an essential ingredient that was readily available in the forests around Nuremberg – honey! Honey was, and it still is, a very popular and healthy ingredient. It was especially popular in the Middle Ages, as it was considered to be a gift from God and to have nurturing effects.
As we know, in the Old Testament, Yahweh promised to His chosen people a land of “milk and honey” once Moses took them out of Egyptian captivity. Due to this, honey was held in high regards, both by the general populace and the Christian Church. The friars started baking gingerbread biscuits, using honey as the main ingredient. These biscuits turned out to be a huge success, as they’re still eaten and baked even today!
Do you like liquorice? Are you longing for something liquorice-based to sate your needs? Well then… did you know there are good-looking and delicious liquorice-tasting biscuits? They’re called Anisette biscuits, and they come from the boot-shaped Apennine peninsula, Italy!
These biscuits are called Anisette due to their main ingredient – anise seeds. Anise seeds are used for brewing Anisette liquor and flavouring baked goodies! These anise seeds come from the Anise plant (Pimpinella anisum), which is a plant native to the eastern parts of the Mediterranean and southwest Asia.
The seeds from these plants are very aromatic and have thus been used in numerous Italian dishes. Even the ancient Romans used anise seeds to flavour their food! And not only are anise seeds good for flavouring food, they also help to aid digestion. They’re good for your health!
Besides aiding digestion, anise seeds also strengthen the immune system. All of these healthy properties transfer to anise biscuits. So, if you’re looking for something sweet and healthy, look no further! The anisette biscuits are a perfect treat for you.
Do you like having a drink along with your biscuits? If so, there’s the anisette liquor, which is made from anise seeds. Many Italians like combining these two products, so if you’re ever in Italy, be sure to give this combination a try!
For the next biscuit on our map, we’re going further down a bit. To Sicily, to be more precise! The island of Sicily also has a long-standing tradition of biscuit baking!
Photo by Brittny/Shutterstock.com
Not to be outshined by their northern neighbours, the Sicilians have also developed a baking tradition of their own!
Take a look at the pasticcini di mandorle! These traditional Sicilian biscuits don't use anise seeds. Their main ingredient are almonds instead! So, for all of you almond fans out there, this is the perfect treat for you.
The almonds hold an honorific place amongst the populace of Sicily. The almond trees that dot the landscape of Sicily are not native to the island. They were brought by Saracen invaders from the Middle East, but after the Saracens left, the local populace continued cultivating these trees and using the tasty almonds to flavour their baked goods.
That is how the pasticcini di mandorle came to be. The main ingredient of these biscuits are almonds, and they’re very soft biscuits with a great taste that can last for a very long time. The locals like to eat their pasticcini with an espresso. They’re also perfect for different gatherings and holiday occasions, especially Christmas!
There’s not much more to tell about the pasticcini di mandorle, but we do have an article which deals with Sicilian cuisine, the history of the almonds in Sicily and which has a sample recipe that you can try out. You can check it out here. While you do that, we’ll move on to our next destination.
We’ve already written about the Nuremberg gingerbread, but did you know that the famous bakery has its rival? That’s right, the bakeries in the town of Torún, Poland, bake their own versions of gingerbread biscuits which are delicious!
The town of Torún is a town with a long and interesting history. But, it is most famous for its delicious gingerbread biscuits. It can be said that the Torún gingerbread is a national symbol. It is beloved by many Poles, and it has even been praised by famous poets such as Fryderyk Hoffman and many others.
The Torún gingerbread is also somewhat of a brand of the town of Torún. The foreign dignitaries who visited Torún would get gingerbread modelled after their own likeness. Amongst these dignitaries were kings, president, premiers, scientists and many others.
The main ingredient of these gingerbread biscuits is honey, just like it is for Nuremberg’s lebkuchen. There’s even a legend as to how the gingerbread came to be. According to one tale, it was a gift from the “Queen of Bees” to a monk named Bogumił.
This info can be found at the local Torún gingerbread museum! It’s a marvel to see, as it depicts the entire history of the famous gingerbread. If you’re ever in Torún, it would be a shame not to visit the museum!
We’re nearing the end of our journey. We have one more destination to discover, and that would be the exotic sub-continent of India!
The last biscuits on our map are the Nankhatai biscuits. They’re traditional biscuits from the exotic subcontinent of India! They’re loved by both younger and older generations, and they’re present at every Hindu festival imaginable!
The most prominent festival at which they appear is the Diwali festival. The Diwali festival is a festival dedicated to the victory of light over darkness. This is a symbolic representation of love defeating hate, and many Indian families prepare great feasts of which the Nankhatai is an essential part.
Besides that, many Indian bakers prepare these Indian treats on the streets during the festival. It is a very simple biscuit, which comes as a great appetizer after the heavy meals during the height of the festival.
The origin story of the Nankhatai biscuits is an interesting read. In fact, it is so interesting that we don’t want to spoil it for you.
Photo by: Highviews/Shutterstock.com
We’ve come to the end of our journey! We hope you’ve had a blast traveling with us and discovering all the great biscuits from every corner of the world. Expect more of these articles once we’ve expanded our range of biscuit types and brands! Who knows where we might end up next? The possibilities are endless!