Mayhap you remember the hoopla from almost two years ago, when Princess Diana’s son William wed his doormat of 10 years, Kate Middleton. Part of the media madness consisted of endless analysis of the humble refrigerator cake Willy chose for his groom’s cake. I definitely paid attention to discussion of the cakes that would feature at the wedding – I am, after all, obsessed with dessert. I, too, was surprised by the groom’s choice: with his pick of any type of cake, from any part of the world, made by some of the best pastry chefs in the world, he chooses this one? According to the former royal pastry chef who published the recipe, it is a cake that the Queen would order for tea with her grandson, when he popped by for visits from Eton. (Having been to the incredibly gorgeous town of Windsor, I can attest to the fact that it really is a 5 minute walk between Eton and Windsor Castle.) She liked it so much that she would bitch at her employees if any slices seemed to be missing from the leftover cake, a practise she apparently reserves only for desserts she loves.
This cake consists of melted chocolate blended with a sugar-and-butter buttercream. An egg is mixed in. Next, almond-sized pieces of McVitie’s biscuits are folded in. The batter is poured inside of a cake ring and refrigerated until firm. (No, there is no baking. If you’re uncomfortable eating raw egg, use a pasteurised egg substitute.) The cake is unmoulded, flipped upside down, and covered with a layer of melted chocolate.
The more I thought about it, the more obsessed I became with trying it. If the future King of England thinks it’s pretty fabulous – and let’s face it, he’s had some killer desserts in his lifetime – then it probably is. And it is! I made it for Husband’s birthday two years ago, and we loved it. At the time, I didn’t have the 6″ cake ring called for by the recipe, so I doubled the recipe and used an 8″ cake ring borrowed from my 8″ springform pan, which worked very well. This time around, I used one of my 6″ cake pans, lining it with waxed paper to make for easy removal. This worked very well – no need for me to buy a 6″ springform pan just to use for this cake! The finished cake tastes like a Twix bar – so much so that next time, I am considering pouring a layer of caramel over the top of the cake before putting it into the refrigerator, so that there will be a yummy layer of caramel at the bottom of the finished cake.
When trying to cover the cake in melted chocolate, I goofed a bit and got melted chocolate in places I was planning to decorate a bit differently, to put it mildly. I covered the mess with chocolate-covered strawberries I’d been planning to serve separately, and I was very pleased with the visual results. I was also delighted to find that chocolate-covered strawberries are made for this cake! I highly recommend that you serve the cake with these, or fruit of some kind. Fruit and chocolate complement one another splendidly, and as this cake is all about the chocolate, I think you’ll quite dig it with fruit. This cake is a hell of a contender for Valentine’s Day!
A bit of caution: The finished cake is quite dense, making slicing difficult. I recommend using a hot, dry, very sharp knife for slicing this beauty. Next time I make this, I’m going to use an extra ounce of chocolate and some extra butter in order to make the cake a bit less… well, “pregnant with cookie” is the phrase that popped into my mind.
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McVitie’s Biscuit Cake
Yield: one 6″ cake
6″ cake ring OR waxed paper for lining 6″ cake pan
butter, for greasing cake ring OR waxed paper
8 oz. McVitie’s rich tea biscuits
4 TBS unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
4 oz. dark chocolate (I used 3.5 oz. milk chocolate & 1 oz. bittersweet chocolate)
1 egg, beaten
8 oz. dark chocolate, for covering the cake (I used a 50/50 mixture of milk and dark chocolate)
1 oz. white chocolate, for decoration (optional)
Generously grease a 6″ cake ring with butter and place on a tray lined with waxed paper or parchment paper. If using a 6″ cake pan instead of a cake ring, carefully line entire pan with waxed paper and generously butter the waxed paper.
Break each biscuit into almond-sized pieces by hand and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl (I used a whisk) until the mixture is a light lemon colour.
Melt the 4 oz. of chocolate. Add the butter / sugar mixture, stirring constantly. (Mixture will look grainy.) Add the egg and continue stirring. (The addition of the egg will smooth out the batter.)
Gently fold in the biscuit pieces until they are all coated with the chocolate batter.
Transfer the chocolate biscuit mixture into the prepared cake ring or cake pan. Try to fill in all of the gaps at the bottom of the ring / pan, because the bottom will be the top when it is unmolded. Cover the cake ring / cake pan with cling film and refrigerate at least 3 hours, or until cake is firmly set.
When cake is ready to be iced, remove cake from refrigerator and unmould, placing cake atop a cooling rack. Melt the 8 oz. of chocolate and pour over the top of cake, smoothing the top and sides with an offset spatula or knife. Allow the chocolate to set at room temperature. Carefully run a knife around the bottom of the cake where it has stuck to the cooling rack, and transfer the cake to a serving dish. Melt the white chocolate, if using, and pipe or drizzle the chocolate onto the cake in a decorative pattern.
Serve with fruit, whipped cream, and coffee or tea.
Source: Slightly adapted from Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen by Darren McGrady, 2007