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Friday 1 March 2019

Cake Angels' TransFormers-Branded Chocolate Biscuit Kit

Knowing that I'm a bit of a fan of TransFormers, not to mention chocolate biscuits, my girlfriend bought me a boxed, TransFormers-branded kit for making my own choccie biccies with chocolate icing and printed wafer pieces featuring Optimus Prime and Bumblebee from the most recent TV show to carry the name "TransFormers: Robots In Disguise".

The kit contains two separate bags, containing a biscuit mix and an icing mix. The former requires only the addition of butter, the latter only a little water... and yet, despite how easy it would be to prepare, I put off making the biscuits for absolutely ages - one year, three months past its Best Before date, to be precise - before making a start. In all honesty, it probably would have been longer, and the box would have languished, untouched, in a cupboard for another few years, were it not for the obvious upset in Courtney's voice the last time the subject came up: "I bought it for you as a present..."

Part of the issue, I guess, is that I am a fan of TransFormers, but really not a fan of some of the random, licensed tat that bears the name... and a biscuit-making kit certainly falls under that banner. Still, there was no good reason for not making them, and I had the time today, so I finally cracked it open and had a go.

Both of the mixtures were quite strange to deal with. According to the instructions on the box, the icing only needed about 15ml water. Added slowly - effectively a half teaspoon at a time - I seemed to be stirring a small clump of powdery icing through a mass of pale brown, chocolate-scented icing sugar for ages, only for it to suddenly resolve itself into a thick, dark brown, glossy paste. Similarly, the 40g of room-temperature butter - cut up into small chunks so it'd soften quicker - seemed not to be blending with the cake mix at all until suddenly I had a lump of biscuit dough. Well, I say 'suddenly', but mixing it had taken absolutely ages, and both wrists were aching by the time it finally happened.

After chilling the dough in the fridge for 10 minutes, it needed rolling out - a thickness of 1cm was specified in the intructions, but I wasn't especially accurate with my rolling pin. Two stencils are printed on the back of the box, to cut out and keep (little stands are also included, to turn them into tiny standees once the biscuits are done), and these are simply laid on top of the rolled dough so they can be used to cut out one of two of each shape with a knife. The dough then needs to be balled up and re-rolled to cut out another round of biscuit shapes. The box says it makes six, and I ended up with slightly more than one biscuit's worth at the end, so I simply molded it into the shape of the stencil.

The instructions then recommend placing the biscuits onto a greased baking tray, but I object strongly to the washing up that requires, so I simply put some greaseproof paper on a cookie tray and laid the six slabs of dough on that before slamming them into the oven.

About a quarter of an hour later, the biscuits were cooked, so I took them out and let them cool briefly before battling with the icing, which preferred to stick to the spoons I was using to scoop it out of the bowl, rather than any of the biscuits. Surprisingly, there seemed to be far too much icing, and it threatened to drip over the sides of the tiny biscuits... The final touch was a case of rushing to get the wafer pieces popped out of their pre-cut sheet and slapped into the icing before it started hardening.

The end result looked like this:

Bearing in mind these were meant to be chocolate biscuits, I was a little surprised - and disappointed - to find that the flavour was more sugar than chocolate... So much sugar, in fact, that they actually left a burning sensation on my tongue and at the back of my throat. The texture left something to be desired as well - think gluten-free shortbread and you wouldn't be far off... only these were even closer to sand. There was no crunch, just crumble.

Whether this was due to being over a year past the Best Before date of the mix I'm not certain - it seems unlikely, given that such dry goods tend to last quite well. I'd say it was more due to the miniscule amout of butter, so there wasn't enough fat to properly bind the mixture and keep it moist through baking. The icing, in isolation, tasted vaguely of chocolate but, on the super-crumbly biscuit, that was all but lost. The wafers are basically puffed-up rice paper, and the print on them is very faint and faded - a shame considering the bold colours of the characters in the TV show.

I'm going to assume that these things are aimed at young kids, to give them a simple introduction to home baking (under supervision, given that a rolling pin, knife and oven are all potentially dangerous in young hands), but I can imagine a lot of kids being as disappointed as I was in the lack of chocolate flavour. I'd toyed with the idea of getting some cooking chocolate drops to add in, or maybe molding the shapes by hand, perhaps creating fewer, larger biscuits with some sculpted detail... but, in the end, I'm glad I didn't. This wasn't an especially good product, and does nothing to change my low opinion of TransFormers-branded tat... I'm sure it's reasonably lucrative, both for Hasbro and for Cake Angels... but anyone interested in making biscuits would be far better off looking up a recipe online and making them from scratch, rather than using this dry, disappointing mix.

In fact, maybe I'll do just that... I have a really good cookie recipe already, and I'm sure I could mold some vaguely TransFormer-ish shapes... Be interesting to see how they survive the baking process, though...