Scotch Fingers

February 6, 2010 at 14:46 | Posted in biscuits | 2 Comments
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The Scotch Finger is one of the mainstays of Arnott’s range. As well as being available in two different packet sizes (250g and 375g) and as a chocolate coated variant, they appear in several of Arnott’s assortments as well as in those individually wrapped packs you find in hotel rooms (sometimes paired with a much less exciting ‘nice’ biscuit, which brings about all sorts of dilemmas about which to eat first). They even, I am reliable informed, turn up in Australian Army ration packs. The Scotch Finger therefore has deep roots into the Australian psyche.

As the name implies, they are a shortbread-style biscuit made with butter (although they also contain vegetable oil). Each biscuit is divided into two fingers, and the two halves can be snapped apart. It is very unusual to do this, however – in fact, I’ve never seen an Australian eat a Scotch Finger in this way. I have found that, by breaking them into individual fingers, they can be used as a kind of edible spoon for consuming little pots of fruit yoghurt; the combination of biscuit and yoghurt leads to a rather pleasant ‘cheesecake-like’ flavour and texture.

Each biscuit is around 75mm long and 43mm wide, and a whopping 10mm deep to its highest protuberances. They have a kind of zig-zag pattern at the edges, and the words ‘ARNOTT SCOTCH’ imprinted on the textured upper; clearly there was no room for ‘FINGER’. There are 14 biscuits in a 250g packet; for another bonus point and a chance to win a packet of these biscuits answer this question: How many Scotch Finger biscuits are there in a 375g packet?

The Scotch Finger is somewhat different to a Scottish Shortbread biscuit. It is a bit less ‘short’, and has a distinct malty flavour particularly on the aftertaste; the butter is less evident the you might expect. The flavour is actually rather similar to an English ‘Malted Milk’ biscuit (although not at all close to the Arnott’s ‘Malt’o’milk’ variety). The Scotch Finger is also excellent for dunking; it holds up well in hot tea and the flavours blend well.

I have to say, I think this is a fantastic biscuit. It’s not fancy, has no cream or chocolate, but this unassuming biscuit is a true friend. It’s posh enough to serve to guests without embarrassment, makes a lovely snack with a cup of tea and, if push comes to shove, the 250g packet makes an excellent meal-substitute (there have been a few occasions when on my own in the evening that I have sat down to dine on a packet of Scotch Fingers). I would actually say that, if there were some sort of totalitarian regime change in Australia, and we were each to be restricted to only one type of biscuit for ever more, the Arnott’s Scotch Finger would probably be the one I would choose. (This scenario is, I think, rather unlikely; such a totalitarian regime would probably be bent on imposing the same biscuit on everyone, rather than allowing individual choice. Almost certainly they would impose the ‘nice’ biscuit on us all, whilst reserving chocolate-coated Scotch Fingers for the regime leaders. Such is the way of dictators.)

Notwithstanding their undoubted qualities, there are two faults which can affect Scotch Fingers. This is quite unusual, as Arnott’s generally have excellent quality control. The first is caused by rough handling, and leads to a significant build-up of tiny crumbs inside the packet. You can often tell when this has occurred, as  the pack appears less smooth (the pictured packet shows this to some degree, although thankfully the biscuits reviewed were OK), and you can hear the crumbs moving when you up-end the packet. (This isn’t Arnott’s fault, I suppose, but they could consider protecting the biscuits in a plastic sleeve as they do with other delicate lines.) Whilst this doesn’t affect the biscuits markedly, it is rather annoying as they do get rather covered in fine crumbs which go everywhere. And it is quite disastrous when dunking; you can expect rapid sludge build-up from such a packet.

The second problem is rarer, but more fundamental. Sometimes you get a packet of Scotch Fingers that appear to have been in the oven a bit too long. The give-away sign is on the zig-zag edges of the biscuit; they appear much darker than the rest of the biscuit, although the whole biscuit takes on a darker hue. This can affect the taste somewhat, and give a slight ‘burnt cooking oil’ taste to the biscuit. It’s not common, but it happens sometimes. For a company that generally shows such excellent quality control, this is strange to see on such a common variety. Perhaps the sheer number of these being produced makes it hard to spot such problems.

Still, don’t let that put you off. The Scotch Finger is an excellent biscuit, worthy of its place in Australian hearts.

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2 Comments »

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  1. If you’re turned on by the essay on biscuits, then you’re going to be blow away in an instant by Tracey Maguire’s book The Worker in Me. The crumbs are everywhere, and they lead somewhere, but where? It’s sweet! So damn SWEET!

  2. Who are you?


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