After I posted these on Instagram, someone pointed out to me that a comedian called Alexei Sayle did a sketch on ‘Revolutionary Biscuits‘ (I found this on YouTube: it’s definitely 80’s angry comedy). He says something like “You’ve got your Garibaldi – Italian dictator, you’ve got your Bourbon – French revolutionaries and of course you’ve got your Peak Frean Trotsky Assortment”.
I’m thinking there’s a whole new scope for dictator-named biscuit snacks. Who wouldn’t like to bite into a Pol Pot gingerbread? There’s sadly been that many dictators over time that you could fill a whole Christmas assortment box of biscuits.
I didn’t have any intention in posting this recipe, but I had a few enquiries about it from Instagram and, after raising a cursory question who’d like to try them, I got quite a few raised hands (which was delightful thank you!). So, here we are, recipe at the ready.
I remember Garibaldis from my childhood and they were old fashioned then, let alone now (even though you can still buy them I see, but clearly not in superior pistacchio flavour!). Sometimes a vintage bake is just the thing to hit the spot. My dear old Dad used to call them dead fly biscuits when I was tiny, which actually put me off eating them till he stopped teasing me. I didn’t really think there were dead flies in them, just that the association made me go “Euwww” too much to face trying them till I got older.
I’m sure that I remember my mum buying packs of ‘luxury’ versions covered with chocolate on one side. No one else around my age group I’ve asked remembers chocolate-covered Garibaldis and now they all think I’ve gone loopy. Whether my recollection can be relied on or not, I bet these biscuits would be even lovelier draped in a layer of milk choc, and I may well be doing this soon.
There are a couple of specialist ingredients in this bake: pistacchio paste and caramel syrup. Here in the UK you can buy the paste in any M&S food hall or it can be found in deli’s or online (see my resources page). It lasts for ages and is gorgeous and can be used in a lot of things, including savoury. Frankly, I’m never without a jar in the fridge, but then I’m a pistacchio addict. The syrup should be slightly easier to get hold of, but it’s probably not where you’d think it should be in the baking/ingredient section. It’ll be in the coffee product aisle in your supermarket as it’s primarily sold as one a coffee syrup, but I bet you’ll soon be using it in a lot of your baking! Alternatively, you can make something akin to this syrup by putting 100g of granulated sugar and a tablespoon of golden syrup in a saucepan, adding just enough water to soak through (and no more) and boil till it caramelises/is golden brown. Remember no stirring once it starts to bubble or it will crystallise. If it’s too thick once cooled but the the right colour, carefully add a teaspoon or two at a time of water and stir through until thinned enough to ‘baste’ with.
Makes one giant slab of biscuits – about 40cm x 30cm. Be warned – the first time I made these I tried to get them all in one large baking sheet. All the edges browned much faster because they were in contact with the conducted heat of the rim of the baking sheet. It’s much better to cut the slab of biscuits in half and bake on two trays as I’ve described in the recipe.
Don’t separate the biscuits, when you cut leave the them as they are as they’ll bake with sharp edges where you can see the raisins and pistacchios peeking out. If you separate them, the biscuits want to spread and you’ll get softer edges (not the Garibaldi way).
The pistacchio pasta frolla on its own makes excellent shortbread-style biscuits or is a great pie crust. In fact it can substitute for most sweet shortcrust pastry/pâte sucrée.
Prep time: about 20 mins | Resting time: 2 x 15 mins at least | Baking time: <20mins
Total make time: 1hr 10 roughly (well, it all depends on your own work speed in the kitchen!)
Makes about 24-30 (depending on the size of cut biscuits)
- Two large baking sheets
- Baking parchment or paper
- Rolling pin
- Large bowl
- Pastry cutter or table knives (you’ll see later)
- Pizza wheel (ideally) or long sharp knife
- Pastry brush
- Spoons, scales, measuring jugs and spoons and a table fork
Ingredients for the pasta frolla (Italian sweet short pastry)
- 00 flour – 300g
- Caster sugar – 125g
- Unsalted butter, kept cold – 200g
- Pistacchio paste – 20g
- Fine salt – a pinch
- Eggs, large – 1 whole egg plus 1 yolk
- Lemon juice – 1 teaspoon
Inclusions and caramel glaze
- Pistacchios, shelled and slightly crushed – 125g (or thereabouts)
- Raisins – 150g (ish)
- Caramel syrup, such as Monin’s – about 50 – 60 ml
- Extra flour for dusting
Method – pasta frolla
- Mix all the dry ingredients together: that’s the flour, sugar and salt
- Cut the butter into small cubes
- Add the butter and pistacchio paste to the dry ingredients and cut it in, using either a pastry cutter, a couple of kitchen knives (in a two handed chopping action) or rub in with your fingers. (I’ve suggested using a cutter as the pistacchio paste is quite sticky but you can rub it in)
- Add the egg and egg yolk and the lemon juice and briefly knead until it’s all evenly distributed. You should not need more liquid – this is quite a solid pastry, but add a tiny amount if you really think it’s needed (this is most likely caused by a smaller size of eggs or a lower humidity in your kitchen)
- Leave to rest in your fridge for 15 minutes
Method – construction and baking
- When rested, halve the dough and roll both out in to as perfect a rectangle as you can on a lightly floured surface. It’s also best to slightly flour the rolling pin
- The rectangles don’t have to be perfect, but they should be as close a match to each other as possible
- Aim to roll out to about 3-4mm thick
- Transfer one of the dough rectangles on to a large sheet of baking parchment/paper
- Only slightly dampen the pastry brush and use it to moisten the top of this rectangle of dough
- Scatter the crushed pistacchios and raisins over this layer of dough and lightly roll over with the rolling pin
- Place the second dough rectangle over the first. Roll over with the rolling pin to press down – you don’t need to be really firm or you’ll end up with the pistacchios poking through the top. This creates that indented, mottled top to the Garibaldis which is really characteristic and helps gel both layers together around the nuts and raisins
- Using a fork, dock the biscuit dough all over, as you would when blind baking a pastry case. This may not be easy in some places because of the hard pistacchios! This stops the pastry from puffing up too much
- Using a pizza wheel or large sharp knife, cut the rectangle in half and slide one half of the biscuit dough away from the other slightly. Cut the baking parchment/paper along this gap you’ve created
- For each slab of biscuit dough, cut the dough using the pizza cutter or knife into rectangles: they should be about 4cm x 3cm. You’ll get about 12-15 from each half of dough, so about 24-30 in total
- Picking up one side of the baking paper, which now has one half of the sliced, unbaked biscuits on and place on a baking tray. Repeat with the other paper/dough onto a separate baking tray, so that the paper you rolled and cut them on becomes the baking tray paper
- Do not separate out the biscuits
- Take your pastry brush again and spread the caramel syrup all over the tops of both sheets of unbaked biscuits
- Leave the baking trays of unbaked biscuits to rest, ideally in the fridge (or somewhere cool if you can’t get the trays in the fridge) for 15 minutes
- Put your oven on to 170C fan / 190C conventional (about 325 F)
- When the oven is ready, bake for 18 – 20 minutes (you may need to turn half way through)
- Leave to cool in the trays for a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. They can be stored for 3 – 4 days in an airtight container