The sign of a good host is a well-stocked cookie jar (USA) or a biscuit tin (UK). A good cookie can be an instant pick me up, a light snack, and is perfect with a cup of tea or coffee. Here are some of the best cookies (so far) that have crossed my palate. Naturally, home-baked are the best, but you can’t go wrong with these traditional favorites when you need a break, or to stop the rumble tums. I am a chocoholic, so most of these will have chocolate in them, but I assure you they are worth it.
- Loaker Tortina. These wonderful round chocolate wafers should only be shared with those you really care about. Individually wrapped, these can be found in delis around the world, Italian style coffee bars, and all Italian shops. I warn you, they can be addictive, but if you are having a bad day, one of these and a shot of espresso will help. These days you can choose from the original milk chocolate, or dark with creamy praline sandwiched inside.
- Pepperidge Farm, Double Chocolate Milano. The classic cookie; decadent, and perfectly sized for three generous bites. Milano cookies have various versions with mint, orange available, but the original chocolate Milano is now a classic and is still the best cookie in the USA. Once customs stopped my brother and I, when we took a suitcase of 30 packs as hand luggage. We simply said they were too valuable to get damaged in the hold.
- Loaker Gardena. Crispy, chocolate coated wafers that are sold in a block that you break off. These are great for sharing and are shaped in fingers. It has the same taste as a Tortina, but is cheaper and has a lighter coating of chocolate.
- Bourbon Creams. A classic English chocolate cream biscuit; an oblong sized biscuit with chocolate buttercream in the middle. These can be found in most biscuit assortments in the UK, and is apparently the fifth most popular biscuit in the UK. Perfect to dunk into any drink, especially hot chocolate.
- Chocolate Digestive. The most popular biscuit in the UK made with a bran base and is similar to graham crackers in the US. The best ones are coated with dark chocolate on one side, but plain digestives are very sturdy for dunking and are also used as the base for cheesecakes. Originally created to help with digestion (hence the name), there are few actual digestive benefits, but does help to make a cup of tea or coffee taste better.
- Shortbread. It has to have butter—otherwise it’s not shortbread. Now, I love plain butter shortbread, but there are chocolate versions too which are as delicious. I rather like Walkers, but not all Scottish shortbread is the same; check the butter quantity before buying, because it’s the butter that makes it taste so decadent. It maybe scary to see how much butter is used, but you can taste the difference.
- Jammie Dodgers. A small round shortbread biscuit with a raspberry jam sandwich. Don’t worry the jam isn’t runny or messy, but is solidified inside. These are great to add color on a plate if serving them for tea, but are also a great way to use up jam.
- Lemon ThinS. These are so light and melt in your mouth. They are little like lemon shortbread, except much finer. Many people like to eat them with ice cream as a dessert, instead of a wafer,or have them with coffee after dinner instead of mints.
- Double chocolate chip cookies. I mean the freshly baked soft cookies where the chocolate chips are sill gooey when you bite into them. Sadly, these are extremely high in calories, but delicious. For the ultimate chocolate experience, dunk into a thick Italian hot chocolate (which is like liquid chocolate).
- Viennese Fingers.Traditionally these are vanilla and butter biscuits that are half dipped in chocolate. Simply delicate and bliss. Some versions may have nuts in them, or are called ‘whirls’ where the chocolate is sandwiched between two biscuits. All are equally edible and divine.
In the UK, tea-time (afternoon tea) is between 3:30 – 5 p.m. when biscuits, cakes, and tea or coffee are served. I make it a habit to continue this tradition wherever I am in the world. Yes, it is an official name for a meal!