Sunday Herald Sun - Body and Soul

TAKE THE BISCUIT

Matt Preston, experience­d teaboy, puts his expertise to good use and ranks the top-15 biscuits in the world

- MATT PRESTON @mattscrava­t @MattsCrava­t

It had to be done. Frankly, I’m amazed no-one has done it already. Someone had to rank the world’s top biscuits, especially now that we’re moving into that wet and chilly time of year when pots of tea and biscuit-loving mugs of coffee are central to our happiness – if not our very survival!

Some may question my suitabilit­y for this heavy responsibi­lity, but if I may point to my CV... At 15, I was a teaboy at the offices of one of the world’s largest tea importers and cafe chains, dolling out digestives and custard creams from my rickety metal trolley to go with giant steamy pots of stewed tea and urns of teeth-staining instant coffee. My first-ever foray into recipe writing was a newspaper feature on biscuits. I took my three-ingredient cheat’s peanut butter cookies to the world by demo-ing them on a popular TV show seen by millions. I was, for a time, a Bangladesh­i biscuit baron with my own range of chocolate-chip cookies on sale across the third-biggest biscuit market in the world. I’m also on record teaching the world’s No.1 chef how to do the Tim Tam suck. Enough? Let’s get started.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE

My choice for the world’s best biscuit. These are less of a biscuit than a selection of chunks flying into loose formation; every bite providing a surprise. Even a bad chocolate chip cookie is a good biscuit. My current favourite combinatio­n is white chocolate, craisins and macadamia.

SWEDEN’S DINKEL COOKIES

So thin you can see through them, these spelt and sunflower-seed cookies promise crunch but also deliver an almost Anzaclike chew. Also, they spread so thin during baking you can treat yourself to a biscuit the size of a toddler’s head, but then it’s magically gone in a few wispy, crispy bites. TIM TAMS Original or double-choc only, obviously, but this is the goldstanda­rd chocolate biscuit and sublime when used in the Tim Tam suck. ANZACS The perfect dunker and a wonderful story to boot. Be careful with the bicarb if making at home. The true joy of the Anzac is their journey after they come out of the oven from soft, to crunchy, to eventually moist and chewy.

CHINESE ALMOND COOKIES

So crumbly they feel like they are melting away when you eat them. And that one golden, toasted almond on top becomes a wonderful textural treat against this ethereal biscuit.

KINGSTONS, ROMANY CREAMS OR GYPSY CREAMS

Although I suspect the latter name has now been cancelled, these are superior versions of more prosaic cream-filled biscuits like the Bourbon or the custard cream. There’s a wonderful contrast between the smooth filling and the crunchy, often oaty or nutty, biscuits. GREEK MELOMAKARO­NAS What’s not to love about honey and walnuts in a delectable cookie?

FIG NEWTONS OR FIG ROLLS

It’s the chew of the wodge of fig-jam filling for me, but the slightly cakey exterior is another surprise.

SHORTBREAD Cold fingers and a warm heart are the secrets to a crisp but buttery shortbread, but the best I’ve ever had don’t come from Scotland but rather from the bush right here in Australia.

MONTE CARLOS Handmade, they are worth the effort, but a short paddle in tea brings even a supermarke­t

Monte Carlo to life.

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE PECAN COOKIES The most recent creation in the top-15 comes from NYC pastry whiz Dominique Ansel. They have a melty, oozy centre and are well worth making when you need cheering up.

CHOCOLATE HOBNOB Oaty, crispy and chocolatey. Britain’s improvemen­t on the chocolate digestive was like moving from the Arnie-era Terminator to the T-1000.

MINT SLICE As much a dessert as a biscuit. I have friends whose reason to revisit Australia is to stock up on Mint

Slices – not to see their mother. I feel this is a little wrong (at least if you say that out loud), but I do understand.

DUTCH SPECULAAS It’s the bite of spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, and the crisp thinness of the biscuit that make these stand out. Easier on your teeth and gums than a NSW Ginger Nut but lacking the homely familiarit­y and cracked face of a ginger snap. Little-known biscuit fact: in 2017,Arnott’s revealed it made different styles of Ginger Nuts for different states.Victoria’s version was softer, Queensland’s more tanned and thinner, SA was sweeter and NSW harder.

YO-YOS Often made with too much custard powder, but at their best a formidably friable biscuit. Never for dunking.

Incensed that the arrowroot biscuit didn’t make the cut? Angry that the Iced VoVo has been overlooked or that kourabiede­s aren’t the highest-ranked Greek biscuits? Join the debate at @mattscrava­t today. I’d love to hear your top-5 and know where I’ve gone wrong!

For some amazing biscuit recipes and my top-30 ranking, head to delicious.com.au.

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 ??  ?? CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK Matt Preston says there is no such thing as a bad chocolate chip cookie. This chewy chocolate and salted-pretzel version from delicious.com.au is just one example of the myriad ways bakers are getting creative with this classic recipe.
CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK Matt Preston says there is no such thing as a bad chocolate chip cookie. This chewy chocolate and salted-pretzel version from delicious.com.au is just one example of the myriad ways bakers are getting creative with this classic recipe.

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