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Digestives are a time-honored teatime treat

Digestive biscuits are English cookies with a dose of whole-wheat flour, mildly sweet and coarse-textured, for a tea snack at least.

Their relatively high fiber content contributes to digestive biscuits’ image as a wholesome choice among English sweets. They are most often served with tea or coffee, the better to teach dunking youngsters a sense of timing.

The “digestive” part of their name comes from the baking soda included in most early recipes. The bicarbonate was thought to lessen the possibility of an upset stomach.

Crumbs of time: The Foods of England Project has traced digestive biscuits back to 1829, with an advertisement in the “Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser” for “Abernethy’s celebrated Digestive Biscuits.” A wholemeal version is first mentioned in 1854.

Connoisseurs who sneer at English food ought to be tied to a chair while you eat banoffee pie in front of them. This dead-easy combination of cookies, butter, caramel, whipped cream and chocolate rocketed to the top of our household dream dessert lineup.

This recipe is adapted from one found at the British Broadcasting Corp.’s website, It calls for digestive biscuits, but graham crackers or vanilla wafers can be substituted.


Easy Banoffee Pie

9 ounces digestive biscuits,

graham crackers or similar cookies

4 ounces butter, melted,

plus extra for greasing

1 14-ounce can dulce de

leche (sometimes sold as caramel)

2 bananas, peeled

and sliced

1 cup whipping cream,

whipped until soft peaks form

2 tablespoons grated

dark chocolate

Place the biscuits into a food processor and pulse (or smash them in a bag) until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the melted butter, mixing well to combine.

Place the mixture into a lightly greased 8-inch loose-bottomed cake tin and press down into the base and up along the sides. (A shallow pie plate will also work.) Place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Spoon the dulce de leche over the biscuit base, and then cover with a layer of sliced bananas. Spoon the whipped cream on top and decorate with grated chocolate.

Slice into wedges and serve. (Chilling for 60 minutes or more will allow more clean slicing.)

On the Web: Check out how easy it is to make banoffee pie at