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Ze Case of Ze Hobbly Nobs

Veteran Member
16215 posts
Joined: Dec 12, 2005


Posted to Thread #11803 at 5:03 pm on Aug 25, 2008

<i>[Ze following must be read with a pronounced French accent à la Pepe Lepew, but with more dignity and an indefinable je ne sais quoi.]</i>

Bon Jour. My name, it is Haircurl Pirouette and I am—quite possibly—the greatest detective in ze world. But of course you already know this.

If you permit, I take one moment of your time to explain to you ze purpose of my little discourse.

Last week I am sitting in my office quite contentedly polishing my pince-nez when at exactly fourteen minutes past three o’clock, there comes a knock at the door. It opens slowly and a beautiful mademoiselle—171 centimeters in height wearing 5.1 cm heels—walks in. This woman, she tries to appear calm, but NO! Pirouette, he knows better. His little grey cells, ze tell him there is something odd here. The brain of Pirouette, it is never wrong and it tells him that she is hiding something. Could it be the bloody knife in her hand? The stained cloth wrapped around her slender body? Quite possibly it is the precariously placed Beef Roulades à la Bière held aloft on a tray?

Ah...mon Dieu! It is ze cook with lunch.

Pardone. Pirouette was merely testing to see if you were paying attention. You have passed and may continue reading like a Belgium.

As you know, if you are truly as smart as you think you are, Haircurl Pirouette is world-renowned for solving impossibly difficult mysteries. It is his métier. But, mon ami, it was not always so. For Pirouette, the manopause, it paused and a short time later he found himself with ze little moustache that must be meticulously maintained. Along with the inscrutable moustache came ze ability for brilliant deductive reasoning and an uncontrollable urge for Belgium chocolate. Now all of Pirouette’s time is consumed solving mysteries, eating chocolate, and speaking of himself in third person.

Perhaps you have heard of Pirouette’s most recent case? Ze one concerning ze secret behind Hobbly Nobs? Ah, pardon my impertinence. You are but a mere reader. You can not possibly know that Hobbly Nobs are …um, how does one say? A pastry? No. A biscuit? No. An oatmeal cookie? Oui! A cookie. Made of oats.

These...things are baked on a little island off the coast of the sophisticated and infinitely more fashionable Continent. But of course, Pirouette restrains himself from judging a country who prefers to promote an oatmeal-based pastry versus the French who created Pâte Feuilletée, 729 layers of pastry most ethereal. C'est magnifique! Even the pedestrian paté choux shows a more dignified sense of proportion than this...this...cookie!

Excusez moi. You will, to please, forgive me. Pirouette finds he must once again beg forgiveness while he regains control of his culinary emotions.

For this case most particular, Pirouette limits his investigation to ze <i>McVitie’s HobNobs</i> cookie that is unadorned, not ze version coated in milk chocolate. A version which—although obviously different—is sold under the exact same name! Mon Dieu, how confusing are these English! But of course, to eliminate it from the list of suspects, Pirouette must first taste this evidence, is it not so? With the merest of nibbles, his keen senses note how ze chocolate caresses the mustached lips, how its bouquet subtly entices the nose of ze true connoisseur, how the...

Mer---cedes Benz! Pirouette’s pince-nez has steamed up. Pardon. Pirouette will grasp his perfectly proportioned lapels and pull himself together.

Bon. Back to ze case at hand.

With a sample of pastry and magnifying glass, Pirouette analyzes the evidence: each item 6.5 centimeters in diameter, 0.75 cm thick, coarse, a texture most crunchy. Twenty-two contained within the 300 gram weight package.

With only the wrapper as guidance, Pirouette uses his little grey cells to deduce the percentages necessary to duplicate this crunchy pastry. The list of ingredients are but simple: rolled oats, whole-meal flour, sugar, palm oil, glucose-fructose, bicarbonates of soda and ammonia and salt. Printed on the label, a statement most braggadocio declares “60% oatmeal and whole meal goodness.”

Ah, bien...a most fortuitous and important discovery. Pirouette has already discovered that the English use a whole-meal called “graham flour.” Further research confirms an ingredient most critical: Lyle’s Golden Syrup lends a discrete butterscotch overtone. This item, it is a glucose derivative from ze distillation process of sugar cane and Pirouette calculates its atomic weight falls between Mendelevium (258) and Lawrencium (262). It goes without saying that The Royal Society in London will confirm this.

Pirouette sees what he must do. He exercises all the little grey cells in his little Belgium head to provide a definitive solution. He is fortunate that an assistant (Harriet, who has been Misplaced_in_AZ) supplies him with the imported Golden Syrup. With the pince-nez carefully tucked away, Pirouette mixes. He measures. He paces back and forth wondering how to obtain the right proportions of ingredients. Pirouette will not beat about the bushes. This case... Sacre bleu! it stymies even Pirouette!

He reviews his little notebook where similar recipes indicate a 1:1:1 ratio for ze rolled oats, flour and sugar. But Pirouette, he finds this result not only too sweet, but more important, it fails to satisfy the elusive “60% oats and whole meal” criteria and nutritional information proclaimed on the package.

His notes confirm too much syrup makes ze cookie hard and crunchy while too much oatmeal exceeds the protein grams. Mixing the sugar with the dry ingredients makes the dough too dry, while adding too much water makes the oats pasty. [Here Pirouette must exercise restraint and control the shiver that courses through his entire body at the mere thought of a pasty pastry.]

But at last he arrives at a solution! A pastry thin, crunchy and sweet, but no, no...not overly so. Pirouette begs that the reader use a scale calibrated to grams to duplicate this recipe. However, he is worldly enough to realize that not everyone can be so fortunate as to live on the Continent or shop at

<b><i>Haircurl Pirouette’s Hobnobs</i></b>

3/4 cup + 1 TBL old-fashioned rolled oats (95 g)
1/2 cup + 1 TBL graham flour or whole wheat flour (85 g)
1/4 cup of sugar (60 g)
4 TBL butter, unsalted (55 g)
1 tsp Lyle’s Golden Syrup (7 g)
1 Tbl water
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 176.666 degree Celsius if you are living on The Continent as civilized individuals choose to do.)

Toast the rolled oats for 8 minutes. Not only does this add a nuttiness to the pastry, but it will allow you to say “toasted oats” without prevarication. When cool, pulse the rolled oats in a clean coffee grinder or food processor to break down the flakes.

Mix flour with oats. But, mon cher, take care! At this point you must NOT add the sugar to the dry ingredients!!! No, no, NO! Listen to Papa Pirouette! It must be melted with the butter or the dough, it will end up most pitifully dry.

In a small pan, combine the butter, sugar, syrup, and water. When the butter is melted, stir in the baking soda and salt until well-blended and mixture foams slightly. Pirouette must admit that he does not yet understand why this step is performed. It is a culinary process most peculiar to English recipes and therefore he refuses to waste further grey cells on it.

Blend wet mixture with dry ingredients. The batter should weigh approximately 300 grams. Divide the slightly sticky batter into 22 cookies weighing 14 grams each. Pirouette again makes the assumption the reader has been clever enough to use a kitchen scale with grams. Gently shape into balls, space on large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and press flat to 3/16” thick <b>[Attention!: please to correct to 3/8" thick</b>] with a flat glass lightly moistened with water. Bake for precisely 8-10 minutes after confirming the clock's accuracy against Greenwich Mean Time standard.

Let cool for a few minutes and then remove to cooling rack. Cookie will continue to crisp as it cools. Store in tight canister to avoid softening.

Pirouette will not beat about the bushes. Zis is one which has taxed even the great Haircurl. He has used his brain most precipitously and placed ingredients in a culinary trebuchet, launching them into the air and hoping that a solution would be discovered.

Merci beaucoup for allowing Pirouette to share his results with you. He is, as always, your servant.

Bon appétit.

Jesus saves. Buddha recycles.

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