Confession: I know almost nothing about Irish baking. I can make an Irish Chocolate Potato Cake, but beyond that, I’m lost.
Today though, that’s okay. I don’t need to know a single thing about Irish baking to make this Chocolate Biscuit Cake…because it’s no-bake!
This cake is not a cake at all, really. It amounts to wheat-based tea cookies (aka biscuits) enrobed in a block of chocolate ganache, basically making it one big truffle. It’s very rich and is just…wow. I don’t know why this isn’t more popular in America. It’s the ultimate icebox cake, and heaven knows we Americans love an icebox cake.
The classic cake is just the chocolate and biscuits, but I’ve taken the liberty of making it a little more cake-like (well cheesecake-like) by adding a buttery crust. What can I say? I love a classic, but I also can’t leave well enough alone. This extra step just takes a minute–literally, it happens in the food processor–but I love the textural difference between the big chunks of cookie in the cake and the fine, buttery crumb of the crust.
Press the crust into the pan and freeze it while you make the filling. Chop up a pound of dark chocolate. Yes, a pound. Bring heavy cream, a stick of butter, and a bit of honey to a simmer and then pour it over the top of the chocolate. Leave it to melt for a few minutes before stirring it together to make a sort of souped-up ganache. Fold in a pound of biscuits that have been broken into shards, and then spread it all over the crust. Refrigerate the cake for a few hours before dusting with confectioners sugar and serving in small slices.
Now you may be wondering, is this big truffle of a cake actually Irish? It was popular a few years ago when Prince William had it for his groom’s cake at the Royal Wedding, so it may be considered more of an English thing. I, however, am deciding it’s appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day because my first-ever Chocolate Biscuit Cake recipe came from the Irish mother of a friend. This is not her recipe, but I now associate this dessert with our emails back and forth about metric vs. empirical measurements. I’ve done a little research to back this up, and it appears Chocolate Biscuit Cake is just as popular in Ireland as it is in England.
6 ounces digestive biscuits* (about 12 biscuits)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
16 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons mild honey (or Lyle’s Golden Syrup)
16 ounces digestive biscuits (about 32 biscuits), broken into pieces
1-2 tablespoons confectioners sugar, for topping (optional)
Butter the inside of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan. Set aside.
Make the crust. In a food processor, pulverize digestive biscuits until they are fine crumbs. Pulse in sugar and salt. Add melted butter and process until combined. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press into an even layer on the bottom and slightly up the sides of the pan. Freeze for 1 hour to set.
Make the filling. Place chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
In a saucepan, combine heavy cream, butter, and honey. Heat over medium-low, stirring frequently until it comes to a simmer. Remove from heat. Be careful–cream expands rapidly when it reaches a boil.
Pour cream mixture over chocolate and allow it to sit until chocolate melts, about 8-10 minutes. Whisk together until smooth. Fold in broken digestive biscuits. Pour mixture over the top of the crust. Smooth the top as well as you can. Tap pan on the counter ten times to distribute everything evenly. Smooth again. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3 hours, or until set.
Remove cake from refrigerator and discard plastic wrap. Run a small, flexible knife around the edge of the pan. Release the springform. Sift confectioners sugar over the top, if desired. Slice into small pieces and serve.
Cake will keep covered in the refrigerator for several days.
If you cannot find digestive biscuits in the cookie or international aisles of your grocery store, crisp butter cookies or graham crackers will work here.