With all the articles and postings about Prince William’s choice of a Chocolate Biscuit Cake for his wedding reception last week, I became intrigued and wanted to learn more. I had never heard of this cake, and thought the name alone made it sound delicious – chocolate and cookies (the British biscuit is more like what we Americans call a cookie) together in a cake – yum! So, I started googling around, looking for the recipe. As it turns out, similar to another British dish, Sticky Toffee Pudding, there are several different versions of this cake.
According to the Daily Mirror newspaper in England, the official Chocolate Biscuit Cake for the royal wedding was made by the McVitie Cake Company, following a Royal Family recipe. Unfortunately, to date I have not been able to find the “official” recipe, so I set out to develop my own version, based on the information I could find.
Given that the McVitie Company made the cake, the royal version must include McVitie’s butter biscuits as a key ingredient – and not Le Petit Beurre biscuits, as called for in the Bon Appétit magazine recipe for this cake. Searching through other British recipe sources, it became clear to me that this cake also should include raisins, dried cherries, and nuts – and of course, lots of dark chocolate!
So, after a bit of testing and mixing of ingredients, I created my own version of this delicious cake. I added a few other ingredients – like a bit of brandy and orange zest – to take it up a notch. You can include these or not, to your taste. You can also use other nuts, like hazelnuts or pecans. Enjoy!
Chocolate Biscuit Cake
4 cups broken McVities digestives (or biscuits) with dark chocolate coating (pieces should be around the size of an almond, or smaller)*
1/4 cup raisins
1/8 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/4 cup chopped toasted pistachios
1/2 cup butter, sliced
5 bars (3.5 ounces each) dark chocolate (around 50 to 60% cacao), broken into pieces, divided
1 cup cream, divided
1/4 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup*
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon brandy
*Available in specialty food stores, at Cost Plus and in the specialty food aisle of some grocery stores.
Spray a 9-inch spring form pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the broken biscuits, raisins, cherries, walnuts and pistachios. Set aside.
In the top of a double boiler, melt the butter and 3 bars of the chocolate (around 10 ounces), stirring constantly. Stir in 3/4 cup cream, golden syrup, orange zest and brandy. Pour over biscuit mixture and stir until well blended and all the biscuit pieces are coated with chocolate. Place in prepared pan, pressing down and smoothing out the top as much as possible (it will be lumpy but this will be the bottom of the cake so it’s okay). Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
To make the icing – in the top of a double boiler, stir together the remaining 1/4 cup cream and 2 bars chocolate (around 7 ounces) until melted and well blended. Set aside to cool until slightly thickened to the consistency of cake frosting – around 10 to 15 minutes.
While the icing is cooling, remove the cake from the refrigerator. Release the spring on the side of the pan and slowly remove. You may need to use a knife to separate the cake from the sides of the pan. Invert cake onto a cake platter or other serving dish. Remove the bottom of the pan, then carefully peel off the parchment paper. Using a paper towel, wipe off any liquid remaining from the nonstick cooking spray. Spread the icing over the top and sides of the cake to cover. Put in the refrigerator for around 1 hour or until the chocolate icing is hardened.
Make ahead: cake can be made up to 2 days ahead, covered and refrigerated – either iced or not iced.