Chocolate Biscuit Cake

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.

chocolate biscuit cake
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.


chocolate biscuit cake

Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert, Cake
Serves: Makes one 8-inch cake
  • 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
  1. Spray the bottom and side of an 8-inch springform pan.
  2. 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.
  3. Once the butter has melted completely and the mixture starts bubbling, whisk in the chocolate.
  4. Once you get smooth, velvety ganache, fold in the biscuit chunks.
  5. 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.
  6. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until the cake is set and thoroughly chilled.
  7. Unmold and dust the cake with cocoa powder.

19 Responses to Chocolate Biscuit Cake

  1. The Duo Dishes April 21, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    No DOUBT this thing must be the richest cake ever eaten. Bet it would be good with nuts or dried fruits inside. Or perhaps some spice like a dash of cayenne or smokey, sweet cinnamon. Guess none of that matters because you’ve sworn it off, but maybe someone else will give it a try. 🙂

  2. apronless April 22, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    I can think of several people in my life would would love this cake. I’d probably be satisfied to pick off of their plate (if they let me have any).

  3. LimeCake April 23, 2011 at 12:21 am #

    I’ve had similar cakes here in in Australia and have not enjoyed a single one of them. It’s a waste of good chocolate, I think. Plus, I like those biscuits on their own, as God intended.

  4. Leela April 23, 2011 at 1:00 am #

    LimeCake – You and I both. 🙂

  5. mika April 26, 2011 at 7:04 am #

    This is very similar to our “salame di cioccolato” with the exception that it is made without eggs and dried fruit.
    The idea is brilliant, but I don’t think I would like a slice of this…too rich…

  6. C April 26, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    Hmm, haven’t heard of this type of cake before – but it sounds intense.. Seems like it should be eaten in extremely small quantities and maybe with some cream to even out the sweetness…

  7. Charlene Harry April 26, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    Hi England reader here – This is often refered to as Refridgerator cake here and there are lots of different ways to make it, probably depending on the version handed down from a Granny. Mine made it with Digestive biscuits (graham crackers), cocoa powder, melted butter and a dash of golden syrup. Mix, squash in a pan and set in the fridge, then pour thin layer of melted milk choc on the top – Delicious and not as rich as a ganache based version, which does look delicious though.

  8. Leela April 26, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    Charlene – Thank you! Your version sounds really good, actually. I must look into that.

  9. janewilloughby April 27, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    Adding 3 tablespoons of rum into the mix improves it greatly;)

  10. Mandy April 27, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    It was a new cake to me too (I moved to Ireland a few years ago)

    I can understand why it’s popular. It’s so rich you can feed a lot of people with it which is perfect for a wedding, christening or confirmation, even a big birthday part.

    It’s also really solid so easy enough to decorate elaborately with fondant etc.

    It’s non bake and easy to make ahead of time and keeps well. All of this is great for a wedding cake.

    I don’t think it’s ever served as a normal slice of cake ’cause that would definitely be too much for one person. Unless of course the person is that chocolate obsessed!

    Personally, I’d eat a small square of it like you would a rocky road bar, and would probably eat it straight out the fridge so it’s less sweet, but I’m with you, not really my type of cake. Give me carrot cake any day! 🙂

  11. Leela April 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Jane – Haha. I agree. Actually, I will try that.

    Mandy – True that, true that.

  12. Arwen April 28, 2011 at 6:21 am #

    Sounds like hedgehog slice, but much more beautifully presented. I’m glad you had a happy crowd since you didn’t enjoy it yourself.

  13. Robbie May 2, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    I made this cake with the ganache glaze topping yesterday. Seriously, I can see why the Queen loves this cake with her tea. It is pure sin. You can’t eat much of it at once…but you can sneak teeny little thin slivers of it during the day. This is a good garnish for some fresh strawberries and cream. This will be my new signature cake to contribute to a baby or bridal shower. It was so easy, I didn’t even do the double boiler thing. I just microwaved first then melted the chocolate into the hot liquid.

  14. Leela May 2, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    Robbie – A slice of this with fresh strawberries and cream will be what I eat while watching Wimbledon this year. You’ve just talked me into giving it another try!

  15. jennyc28 May 19, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    This is a great recipe from Odlums which uses syrup and butter (so not as rich as the all-ganache version) and is extremely popular –

    I also add some crushed Twix bars into mine – yum!

  16. Kelly July 30, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    This is actually a popular cake here in Malaysia for ages 🙂 It’s called “Batik Cake” – probably due to the pattern of the biscuits when you cut into it. We tend to use Marie biscuits which is similar to tea biscuits

    I learned how to make this from my late aunt and she used to call it “Patient Batik Cake” (direct translation), because it takes some patience to layer the biscuits properly, if I remember right 🙂

    PS: We use eggs rather than heavy cream.

  17. Admin July 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    Kelly – Interesting! Thank you for telling me about this. 🙂

  18. hawanasir August 11, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    Hi I’m from Malaysia too and like Kelly said, it’s famous back home. And there’s actually a pretty easy way of making this cake. All needed is Milo, a little bit of cocoa powder, sweetened condensed milk and butter, and of course the tea biscuit. Eggs are optional, but you’re the food expert, you know what’s best 😉 Although I think you made it clear you’d never make this again 😉

  19. Admin August 11, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

    hawanasir – Actually, your comment just convinced me I needed to make this again following your method. You had me at Milo.