This chocolate biscuit cake has been making such a big buzz in the media lately that people must have been aggressively and vehemently ignoring the news to not have heard about it. Unfamiliar with the cake, I wasn’t sure what it even was let alone why many seemed to love it. Then curiosity led to research, and research led to experiments. Regretfully I must report: I don’t like it.
So this marks a rare occasion on this site where I’m presenting to you something I am not particularly fond of (well, okay, I hate it). Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the cake, the recipe, or those who love this rich, no-bake chocolate cake; it’s just that I don’t like it. I love chocolate cake. I love chocolate cake with chocolate ganache frosting. But I don’t like the idea of a chocolate cake made almost entirely out of ganache. And that is essentially what this cake is.
However, the people who were with me when I was taking the photographs for this post thought differently about it. In fact, you should have seen how they set aside their dignity and made a full-body lunge on the cake the moment my photography session was declared finished.
One said it was so good that it didn’t matter to him if the cake was served cold and sticky from the fridge or soft and smooth at room temperature. One said she wouldn’t mind having this cake every single day of her life including her birthday. One said she couldn’t think of a better way to use the odds and ends of dried fruits, nuts, and crunchy snacks in her cupboard. The rest of them were too busy licking their plates and themselves to provide any comments.
Me? I’ll never make or eat this cake again. You?
When I first heard of chocolate biscuit cake, a thought crossed my mind that this might be a British equivalent of the French “biscuit” as in biscuit joconde, a sponge cake which is an essential component of Gâteau l’Opéra. Then I’ve found out that the biscuits used in chocolate biscuit cake are indeed biscuits — tea biscuits as they call them in England.
It’s funny how things work out sometimes. Just a few moments after I’d discovered that the tea biscuits used for chocolate biscuit cake (to be served at the royal wedding) were made by McVitie’s, I suddenly realized I still had a tube of these biscuits left in my pantry from a very recent trip to Europe. Definitely a sign …
I used my 200-gram tube of McVitie’s rich tea biscuits to make the first batch, following exactly a generic chocolate biscuit cake recipe by Alison Ladman as published by the Associated Press. McVitie’s rich tea biscuits are precisely 1/8-inch thick and 2.5 inches across. Their texture is almost identical to that of plain Ritz crackers with the taste being less salty and a tad sweeter. The classic chessmen cookies make for a fine substitute; in fact, I used them to make the cake that is now gracing your screen — the second (and the last) batch.
As mentioned above, this chocolate cake is basically a hunk of cookie-studded chocolate ganache. Or you can look at it as a pile of interconnected chocolate-covered cookies with the amount of chocolate being far greater than that of the cookies. Regardless, it’s very, very rich — much too rich for me.
But if that’s your cup of tea, you might as well glaze it with more ganache according to the original recipe to achieve the ganache-on-ganache result. That’s exactly what I did for the first batch. For this one, I opted for a light dusting of cocoa powder.
The original recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate, but use milk chocolate or a combination of milk and bittersweet, if that’s what you like. Play around with different cocoa contents that suit your taste. But by all means, use the best chocolate you can afford for it ends up being much of what you taste.
- One 7-ounce (200 g) package of McVitie’s rich tea biscuits or Pepperidge Farm’s chessmen cookies, broken up by hand into ¼- to ½-inch chunks
- 8 fluid ounces (1 cup) heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
- 16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small chunks
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Cocoa powder for dusting
- Spray the bottom and side of an 8-inch springform pan.
- In a double-boiler (or a heatproof bowl set on a pot of simmering water) over medium heat, whisk together the cream, honey, and butter.
- Once the butter has melted completely and the mixture starts bubbling, whisk in the chocolate.
- Once you get smooth, velvety ganache, fold in the biscuit chunks.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a lightly-moistened rubber spatula. Tap the pan on the counter to get rid of air pockets.
- Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until the cake is set and thoroughly chilled.
- Unmold and dust the cake with cocoa powder.