Monday, March 28, 2016

Chocolate Biscuit Cake - Third time's the charm

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I ran across a recipe for Chocolate Biscuit Cake and I had to pause...

Chocolate covered biscuits? An image of chocolate dipped Pillsbury Grand Biscuits popped into my head. I thought about it for a second and finally shook my head. I couldn’t imagine steaming, flaky, buttermilk pillows coated with chocolate.

Then I had a DUH moment. The recipe was talking about British “biscuits” and not American “biscuits”. (A British biscuit is more like a church American cookie.) I mentally replaced biscuits with cookies and started to drool. I love chocolate, I love cookies, so the thought of the two combined into a cake was like something out of a dream.

I ducked into my pantry and finding all the ingredients on hand I decided to whip one up… and 24 hours later I had something resembling a sad, lumpy, lopsided Chocolate Biscuit Cake.

First off, the actors in this tragedy…

The original recipe called for biscuit cookies such as Burton’s or McVitie’s. I’ve never heard of those brands so I used some packets of Lorna Doone cookies that were left over from Halloween. I also didn’t want to experiment on a full size cake so I cut the recipe in half.

So first step was to line a mini load pan with plastic wrap, and then prepare the chocolate ganache for the cake.

Pour a thin layer of ganache into the pan.

And then top the melted chocolate with a layer of cookies. I wanted a high ratio of cookies to chocolate so I broke up the Lorna Doones and fitted the pieces into every available space.

Next pour a layer of chocolate on top of the cookies, and then more cookies. Continuing layering until you run out of chocolate or space in the pan. Loosely fold the ends of the plastic wrap over the cake and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Once the cake is set, remove it from the pan, unwrap and remove the plastic wrap, and place it top side down on a wire rack.

Next melt the chocolate for the cake’s outer coating. The original recipe called for a dark chocolate ganache coating, but I decided to try white chocolate instead. I though the color contrast would give the cake a little more visual pop.

And, sadly, this is where I ran into trouble. My ganache just wasn’t soft enough so I ended up spreading it on the cake like frosting.  Not pretty.  Refrigerate the unwrapped cake for at least 12 hours. 

When the chocolate is set, cut into 1/4” slices and serve…

Or try to serve.   When I tried to serve the cake problem #2 emerged.  Sadly as the cake started to thaw, I found that the bottom stuck to the plate. Very messy, and the brown slick left on the plate wasn’t very appealing. Taste-wise this Chocolate Biscuit Cake was pretty good but not great. The Lorna Doone cookies weren’t as rich and tasty as I had hoped, and the chocolate kind-of overpowered the cookies. So I decided to try the cake again and this time I decided to use some of my favorite tea cookies: Walker’s Pure Butter Shortbread.

So same process: layer of chocolate followed by layer of cookies.

But when I got to the final layer I realized I didn’t have room for another layer of the ultra-thick Walker cookies so for the final layer I used some left-over Lorna Doones.  And to solve the sticky cake bottom situation I crumbled up some Lorna Doones and gently pressed them into the liquid chocolate.

After allow the cake to chill for four hours, the final step was the white chocolate ganache. This time I decided to try Ghirardelli White Melting Wafers, but again I messed up because the Ghirardelli white chocolate just wasn’t thin enough to flow smoothly. (I really need to stop trying shortcuts and make a truly flow-able chocolate ganache.)

So my second attempt at the Chocolate Biscuit Cake solved one problem, but introduced two new problems. The cookie crumb base I added to the cake worked out great; it kept the cake from sticking to the platter and made it easy to serve. But using the Walker cookies didn’t work out so well. The cookies were much too thick to cut with a fork, so my taste testers had to hold the cake in their fingers and bite out big chunks with their teeth. – Not very genteel-looking as you can imagine.

The Ghirardelli wafers were also a bust. After refrigeration the coating was too thick and brittle so it shattered into pieces as I cut the cake. It was messy. Very messy.

So for my third attempt I went back to the Lorna Doone cookies, I used the cookie crumble base, and I (finally) used a pourable white chocolate ganache.   But I still wasn't satisfied with the look of the white ganache because this time I made it too thin.

So after the white chocolate ganache chilled for a few hours, I melted more of the Ghirardelli wafers and used a knife to spread it on like frosting.

In the end I learned to appreciate the chunky, rustic look of the cake, and because this time the Ghirardelli layer wasn't super thick it seemed to slice without breaking and shattering.

So the third time was kind-of, sort-of a success.  And everyone who tasted it loved it!  It turned out to be a great Easter dessert.

Happy Baking,


Chocolate Biscuit Cookie Cake

(adapted from Tea Time Magazine’s Chocolate Biscuit Cake)


4-5 oz Lorna Doone cookies (or other English-style tea biscuit cookies)

6 oz milk chocolate morsels

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

White Chocolate Ganache

4 oz white chocolate morsels

3-1/2 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon unsalted butter


Ghirardelli White Melting Wafers


Line a mini loaf pan with plastic wrap and set aside. I used a 5-1/2 x 3-1/4 inch pan.

Place milk chocolate morsels in a heat proof bowl and set aside.

Place 1/3 cup cream and 1/2 tablespoon butter in a bowl and microwave until hot but not boiling. Pour over milk chocolate morsels. Let sit for 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract, and then stir until the morsels are melted and the mixture is smooth.

Pour just enough melted chocolate mixture to coat the bottom of the pan. Layer whole cookies on top of the chocolate. Use broken pieces of cookie to fill in any large gaps. Pour another layer of melted chocolate. Continue layering until the pan is full. End with a layer of chocolate.

Crumble about 4 cookies, and scatter the crumbs on top of the last layer of chocolate.

Cover the crumb layer with the tails of the plastic wrap and gently press the crumbs into the melted chocolate.

Refrigerate in pan until the chocolate is hard, approximately 4 hours.

Remove cake from pan, uncover the cookie crumb base, and place crumb side down on a wire rack. Place rack on a baking sheet covered in some parchment paper. Completely remove the plastic wrap from the cake.

Place white chocolate morsels in a heat proof bowl and set aside.

Place cream and butter in a bowl and microwave until hot but not boiling. Pour over white chocolate morsels. Let sit for 1 minute, and then stir until the morsels are melted and the mixture is smooth.

Pour the White Chocolate Ganache over the top of the cake allowing the ganache to drip down the side. Use an offset spatula to smooth the ganache over the cake.

Refrigerate, uncovered for at least 12 hours before serving.

If also using the Ghirardelli White Melting Wafers allow the white chocolate ganache to chill for 4 hours before adding the melted wafers.

To serve use a sharp, un-serrated knife and cut into 1/4 inch slices. When cutting press down with the knife rather than sawing.

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