Christmas Treat and Scottish Tradition: Tiffin

On our recent trip to Cambridge, Jeff and I strolled through the Saturday market doing s the locals do. We saw handmade aprons, wares straight from Marrakesh, used books (with some treasures tucked inside), and a little confectionery stand that had some gluten-free choices. I am embarrassed to say I did not write down the bakery’s name, so if you’re in the area, please, put me out of my misery!

They had two choices for gluten-free treats: a brownie and a “tiffin.” Not knowing what a tiffin was, it was the obvious choice to try on this weekend getaway. I was not disappointed.

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It was a dense and crumbly cake that resembled a tightly-packed rocky road bar (with no marshmallows). The crunchy digestive cookies coupled with the dark chocolate bitterness was paired with the dried cranberries to make a perfect treat for after lunch. Half of a bar was almost too much because it is incredibly rich, but I was captivated by this delicacy I had never heard of.

Originated in Scotland, a Chocolate Tiffin is known as “Chocolate Concrete.” The term makes the case for it being so dense. Traditionally eaten on Bonfire Night (with the Parkin Cake), it’s very well-known over here in the UK while it may not be known elsewhere.

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For this holiday season, I thought the perfect gift for colleagues and neighbors would be this fun and easy little treat. Check out the recipes below for the gluten-free digestives, and then the full picture Tiffin.

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Oat Flour Basic Digestive Cookies
makes 20
adapted from Whatever’s Left

75g rolled oats, milled into flour
125g gluten free flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
75g light brown sugar
100g butter, room temperature
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1) In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Combine well.
2) Add the wet ingredients and form into a ball. It is a wet dough. Dip your hands in the flour and form it into a disc and wrap the dough in some cling film. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
3) Dust the countertop with extra flour and roll out with a rolling in. Using a cookie cutter (or mason jar), cut the dough into small cookies.
4) Heat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius or 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake off the cookies for 10 minutes. Make sue they are spaced at least one inch apart on the tray.
5) Cool for five full minutes before taking off the tray. This keeps the crumbling to a minimum.
6) Enjoy with tea, coffee, or in the next recipe!

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Chocolate “Concrete” Tiffin
makes 8 bars
adapted from All Recipes

Ingredients: 2015-12-15 14.14.26
110g butter
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp honey
4 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g basic digestive cookies, crumbled
25g dried cranberries
150g dark chocolate
150g milk chocolate

1) In a saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, honey, vanilla, and cocoa powder. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. 2015-12-15 14.14.43
2) Pour into an 8×8 baking pan, lined with foil or parchment paper. Make sure the pan is non-stick or sprayed with cooking spray.
3) Make sure the liquid is spread evenly. Layer in the crumbled cookies.
4) Melt the chocolate together until completely smooth. Pour the warm chocolate over the top of the cookies. Smooth it with a spatula and pop in the fridge overnight, or in the freezer for 2 hours until set.
5) Carve up and serve. It may be a little sticky on the bottom, but that adds to the charm!

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* * * * *

What are your favorite chocolate treats? 

What are other fun finds in small town farmer’s markets?

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