Why Am I So Obsessed With Biscoff? An Investigation
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Featured Image Credit: Lotus Biscoff
It's hard to believe that once, Lotus Biscoff was no more than a passing thought - the weird little biscuit that came free with your plane food, or on a saucer next to your coffee.
Light and crisp, with a strong smack of caramel and hints of cinnamon, the tasty snack has always been a pleasing addition when it arrives with your hot drink.
However, few could have predicted how much of a cult following it has come to attract.
Now, Biscoff is just as famous for its delicious smooth and crunchy spreads as it is for its original biscuits. You can also buy Biscoff sauce, Biscoff ice cream and Biscoff and Go pots. What a time to be alive!
Plus, in what seems like a world away from its humble beginnings, the brand has recently partnered with food giants such as KitKat and Krispy Kreme to give these cult products a speculoos spin.
It doesn't stop there. People are so obsessed with the stuff that they're even inventing their own homemade Biscoff creations, from Biscoff lattes to Biscoff cupcakes... and some have gone as far as throwing a Biscoff themed wedding.
Our appetite for these tiny biscuits truly is never ending.
Of course, we already knew that Biscoff is catnip for caramel addicts. But how to explain its worldwide domination?
In the spirit of investigative journalism, Tyla set out to discover exactly what is was about the small-town Belgian brand that has captured the hearts (and taste buds) of foodies across the globe.
According Micah Carr-Hill, co-founder of food development company, Tastehead, Biscoff's appeal comes down to two things: its authentic Belgian cooking methods and its widely appealing flavours.
"Biscoff is a very European biscuit in the sense it's a version of a speculoos, with a spice. But the thing about Biscoff is that it's quite a simple version, which makes it more commercial," he says.
"They only use cinnamon in Biscoff, but you get ones far more varied spices added in speculoos across the continent. Instead, the overriding taste is that delicious, salty caramel, which has been a flavour trend for around for 20 odd years, and shows no sign of falling out of favour any time soon."
Few would agree more than self-confessed Biscoff addict Lauren Hill, 24, who told us: "I just love the taste, the smell, the texture. The caramel, lightly spiced biscuity taste is so moreish."
Fellow speculoos enthusiast Amy Grover, 25, added: "It's just everything I love in a sweet biscuit but in paste, it's claggy and malty tasting, and somehow I don't feel as guilty demolishing a whole jar as I do with Nutella".
So, how do they achieve that distinctive, caramel taste that's so synonymous with Biscoff? According to Micah, that's actually down to a candy sugar syrup, which was originally used in the Belgian brewing industry, and is very rare in biscuits here in the UK.
The syrup is made by two different processes: one is caramelisation (aka, cooking sugar at a high temperature) while the other is the maillard reaction (which is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars which gives beautiful, golden brown food its distinctive flavour).
"Having this candy sugar syrup in the mix is really unique to Biscoff," he says. "You get those caramel notes from the maillard reaction and also that delicious, true caramel, which has more bitter notes.
"On top of this, [the biscuit] also has a good amount of salt that cuts through the sweetness. It's not overblown. A good biscuit essentially has a perfect balance of sweetness and salt, and this, coupled with the spice and bitterness, is why Biscoff were always on to a winner".
So there you have it: a scientific explanation for our undying love for the dreamy little biscuits.
In fact, the story of Biscoff began almost 90 years ago; local baker Jan Boone created the snack in Lembeke, Belgium, back in 1932 - naming it after the Lotus flower in homage to the natural ingredients used to make it.
It was at the end of the 1950s that Lotus Biscoff biscuits started popping up in cafes, hotels and restaurants around Belgium, before going on to build its reputation as the ultimate 'coffee break biscuit' around the world.
And to this day, Lotus Bakeries remains a family business, using the same core recipe it developed almost 90 years ago.
Because after all, why mess with a good thing?