If you've ever been to Mombasa (Kenya) or have had relatives/friends live there or travel there, then it would be pretty much impossible not to know the famous HB Biscuits of Mombasa. HB stands for Husseini Bakery. The HB biscuits are known for being some of the most amazing cookies ever!! They are a buttery, crumbly type of nan khatais, each one measuring about 3.5" in diameter. Needless to say, they are huge! And AMAZING! They normally have the HB imprint on them.
So, here is my take on them, only instead of being HB cookies, mine are FB cookies...Fauzia's Bakery! ;)
These gorgeous cookies turned out pretty close to the real deal! They looked exactly the same in every way except for the FB instead of HB.
First, mix the flour, custard powder, semolina, salt and baking powder together in a bowl and set it aside.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar, add the drops of color. Beat in the egg and vanilla until fluffy.
Now gradually add in the dry ingredients and mix until the dough comes together. Do not over-mix as that will ruin the crumbly consistency. Only mix enough for everything to get well-combined.
If you feel that the dough needs a bit more flour, add a tbsp. at a time. Do not over-knead the mixture. Keep in mind that the dough will be chilled before shaping and baking, so it will stiffen up some more later, so don't add more flour than you absolutely need to.
Transfer the dough into a piece of cling film and wrap it up tight. Refrigerate for about an hour.
Place some greaseproof paper on your baking sheets. Divide the dough into about 20-21 equal balls. Shape them into big circles of about 3" each, using the palms of your hand, like how we make burger patties. Place them on the tray and flatten/level them slightly and gently. Remember to leave enough room around them as they will expand slightly during baking. You can make imprints on them at this point, I used the blunt end of a skewer to press on the cookies the letters FB. :)
Once all are shaped, place the trays again into the refrigerator for another half an hour to chill.
In the meantime, pre-heat the oven at 160 C. These cookies are normally large, so we need a lower temperature in order to get them to crisp up properly without getting brown.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes. When they are half-way done, turn the trays around so that the cookies get evenly baked, and if at any time you feel they are starting to take too much color, lower the heat some more.
Once they are ready, remove them onto a wire-rack to cool completely. When they come out of the oven they will be slightly soft, but don't worry as they will crisp up as they cool.
After they've cooled COMPLETELY and if you feel they are still not quite crisp enough, just pop them back into the oven on low temperature of about 120-140 C and bake them for another 10 minutes until you are satisfied with the results.
Store them in an airtight container.