What has long been an easy, no-bake recipe for children at home, has turned into a social media trend during lockdown
The lockdown has been far from a ‘crunch’ for biscuit companies in India — with more people opting to stay in and avoid dining out, sweet and savoury snack foods, particularly cookies, have proved to be a popular choice to keep hunger at bay.
But biscuits do have a life beyond being the ‘dip-dip-dip’ companions of hot beverages, be they cloyingly sweet or sugar-free and cardboard-like.
Just like banana bread, recipes featuring biscuits in layered puddings, as crumb toppings and many other imaginative avatars have become the lockdown favourites for many work-from-home chefs on the lookout for Instagrammable food shots.
Some may see this as a spinoff on ‘icebox cakes,’ a no-bake dessert trend that started in the 1930s in the United States, mainly to popularise the refrigerator (then known as the icebox). Featuring powdered or crushed biscuits, the dishes had whipped cream or custard as a binding agent that would be arranged in layers and set in the fridge.
Chocolate Biscuit Pudding
- 200 gm Marie Biscuits
- 1 cup full cream milk
- 1/2 cup pan-roasted cashew
- 1/2 cup grated dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips
- (For buttercream) 50 gm butter
- 100 gm confectioners’ sugar
- Cocoa powder to taste
- 1 tbsp of full-cream milk
- A pinch of salt
- Dip the biscuits in the milk but not until they are mushy — they should retain a bit of crunch. Whisk the buttercream ingredients together until light and fluffy. Layer your bowl/container alternately with biscuits and the chocolate buttercream (you can sprinkle a bit of cashew nuts in between too for extra crunch if you wish). Top with chocolate buttercream, pan-roasted cashew and chocolate shavings/chocolate chips. Refrigerate for an hour or two, until the cream is firmly set. Slice and serve cold. If you want to unmould the dessert, start CBP with a layer of buttercream; to serve in the pan, start with a layer of Marie.
They have now evolved into several regional variations around the world. Lovers of chocolate biscuit cake are in august company, for the delicacy also happens to be the favourite of the British royal family. Darren McGrady, royal chef, has reportedly said that the dessert, made by mixing and refrigerating crushed Rich Tea Biscuits with melted butter, a beaten egg and melted dark chocolate and then iced with ganache, is one dish that Queen Elizabeth II prefers to eat till the end, even getting her staff to transport the dessert tin from palace to palace until it is over.
It was the cake of choice at her grandson Prince William’s reception in 2011.
Closer home, the chocolate biscuit pudding (CBP), is a British colonial institution of sorts in Sri Lanka. Featuring Marie biscuits dipped in milk and arranged with alternate layers of chocolate buttercream and nuts, the CBP is a rich dessert despite its simple ingredients.
“The key to a great CBP is to keep the Marie biscuits very lightly soaked, so that the pudding is crisp. A mushy pudding doesn’t taste so nice,” says Shyama Jeyanathan, a former air stewardess and HR professional who later trained as a baker and runs the Cakes By Design bakery in the Battaramulla suburb of Colombo.
She says infusing brandy or cognac into the buttercream can give a posh spin to the CBP. “Other versions would be to top it off with a chocolate ganache and strawberries, or salted caramel, or a mocha cream. You can use your own variations to suit your palette,” says Shyama as she shares her recipe.