Monday, 4 April 2011

Tiffin - By Royal Invitation

I’m not that big on the royal wedding. I mean, it’s always lovely when a couple in love decides to tie the knot and I’m loving the extra day off but I’m not going to be buying any commemorative mugs. My ears did prick up when I heard that Prince William is organising a biscuit cake care of McVities to accompany their traditional wedding cake.

I adore broken biscuit cake. I’m sure I ate it when I was little but it was The Boy who’s brought it into my consciousness recently. His Mum makes a mean batch of refrigerator cake (sometimes also known as Tiffin) and, after trying a slice, I decided that I had to put together my own version.

For those that aren’t in the know, it’s a seriously simple, no bake concoction which is easily adaptable depending on your tastes. Will’s cake will be made from rich tea biscuits, according to McVities Cake Design and Development head chef, but I like to use cookies. The Maryland ones are moreish but Sainsbury’s do a Basics version for a mere 45p. Don’t bother with expensive biscuits though, it’s a waste. A mixture of colours and textures can be nice. I have a vague memory that you could buy broken biscuits by the box, once upon a time, but I can’t remember where and haven’t seen them for ages.

As the name suggests, you have to break up the biscuits. I’ve tried smashing them up inside the packet which can work but sometimes the packet breaks, spraying crumbs and ricocheting chunks of biscuit everywhere. I like to add other bits and pieces, like halved glacé cherries, lumps of chocolate and marshmallows though I think this verges on becoming rocky road. It’s super tasty either way but not at all healthy...

The Royal recipe may be a state secret with McVities in direct liaisons with Buckingham Palace in order to get the recipe just right but you can always give my version a try if you’re curious.

Chocolate Tiffin (or Broken Biscuit Cake or Refrigerator Cake)
Makes 24 bite-size pieces

125g unsalted butter
4 tbsp honey
2 tbsp cocoa powder
250g biscuits
40g marshmallows, snipped into halves or quarters
10 glacé cherries, halved
100g dark chocolate

- Melt butter with honey in the microwave or over a low heat on the hob.
- Meanwhile, empty the biscuits into a clean tea towel. Gather up the ends and hold firmly so that the biscuits can’t escape then bash with a rolling pin to crush. You want some chunks of biscuit so don’t get too enthusiastic!
- Mix the cocoa into the melted butter and pour into a mixing bowl.
- Add the biscuits and mix so that they are completely coated in the buttery mixture.
- Stir in the cherries and marshmallows. It’s good to make sure that they are evenly distributed throughout the mix so that you get some in every mouthful.
- Spread into a 25cm round tin and put into the fridge to harden. This takes about an hour. I put a plate or second tin on top, weighed down with jars or cans to compress it and make it nice and even.
- When cooled, break the chocolate into chunks and melt in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. Spread evenly over the tiffin and leave to cool again.
 - To release from the tin, run a knife around the edge of the tin and sink into hot water for a minute before turning out. Cut into bite-size pieces (it's very sweet!).

Tips: Store in an airtight container. Keeps for a few days before the biscuits start to absorb the butter and go soft (though this adds to the cakey goodness, in my opinion!). Add chopped nuts or raisins for a different texture. You could also substitute the biscuits for gluten-free ones which can be quite crumbly – the buttery mixture will hold them together nicely.

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