(Note my oven mitt, George, lurking in the background.)
1 packet of chocolate ripple biscuits
300ml of double thick cream
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
Optional decoration: the most popular is a flake, to sprinkle on top of the finished product, or you can top it with fruit eg. sliced strawberries, kiwi fruit, raspberries. I ended up just eating that kiwi as a snack so my cake ended up naked.
Now, what are chocolate ripple biscuits, you may be wondering. Sadly, step one of this recipe is perhaps "fly to Australia and buy a packet of biscuits"... although they do seem to be available in the UK at various online import stores. I'm not a huge biscuit eater so I can't really think of anything close, but my girlfriend wants to try this cake one day with ginger nuts, so they might be the right texture? Chocolate ripple biscuits are crumbly and crunchy, definitely not chewy or soft. They're not hard like ginger snaps though - you can't really snap one of these in half without ending up all crummy.
My friend Mira last year sent me three packets of biscuits so that I could make the cake - as I'd actually never made it before myself, and she was quite shocked to hear this! And just last month my friend Tara sent me a care package... which included another packet of biscuits. I decided to hide the packet from my girlfriend so I could surprise her one day with the cake. Today is that day!
First, you need some kind of flat thing - a large plate or a chopping board, for example - onto which you can put the cake. Put down a huge sheet of glad wrap (sorry, cling film) that's at least twice the size of the surface.
Spoon all the cream into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and essence (I use vanilla, but you could also try peppermint, orange, coffee - anything that goes with chocolate, really!) and then whip it until your mixture is stiff. It needs to be thick and stiff enough to spread, no runniness remaining.
Now spread the cream onto both sides of a biscuit, and put that on the board/plate/thing. And repeat. And repeat.
The size of your cake pretty much depends on the size of your surface - and how liberal you're being with the cream! You'll need to have enough left over to cover the entire thing at the end, more or less. (But don't be too stingy with your spreading either.) The easiest way is to just lay the biscuits as I've done above, but you can stand them on their ends if you prefer. The difference will be when it's done and you cut it.
Once your first layer is done, add another. And another. Just use your judgement and keep going until your cream starts looking low.
Mine usually end up four biscuits high. The cake is meant to be a log, so keep it only one biscuit wide. Four is also a good height if you want to then stick some more biscuits onto the sides, like so:
I was running a little low on cream, so I didn't end up doing that. I did, however, use some broken pieces to fill in the gaps where the stacks of biscuits met. The next step is to use the remaining cream to cover the outsides of the cake as best you can. It's okay if you still have some chocolate showing, it still works just as well.
(Of course that's not done yet! Just look at the corner and ignore the rest.)
And that's the hard part done. Now you just gently cover the cake with the rest of the cling wrap, and put it in the fridge. And leave it to sit for at least - and this is the only difficult part - eight hours. You'll want to cut into it sooner than that, but trust me - don't. Wait it out. If you cut too soon, it'll still be nice, but it won't be fabulous. The moistness of the cream needs time to fully soften the biscuits. Eat it too soon and you're just eating chocolate biscuits with lashings of cream. Wait until it's ready and you're eating honest-to-goodness cake. Imagine the loveliest, moistest, softest, most decadent chocolate cake ever - that's what these biscuits will turn into.
I only just made the cake about ten minutes ago, but luckily I took a photo the last time I made one!
That one had a flake crumbled on top, but I've found that the flake isn't really necessary. I'd love to try it with fruit one day - perhaps tonight I'll buy some strawberries.
Also, I swear, no matter how many times you make the cake, no matter how careful and neat you are, it will never, ever, ever come out looking like this:
I usually have about a quarter of the packet left at the end. You could use more cream so that you can then use all the biscuits... or you can just save the biscuits to snack on at a later date with some milk.