Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Chocolate Icebox Cake with Raspberries and Homemade Chocolate Wafers (Biscuits)

I've made this before. You've probably made it before too, or at least had it when someone made it for you. This has been a popular, classic cake for a long time. Usually it's made with bought biscuits but it's even better if you make the biscuits yourself, which is a little time-consuming but easy. Plus you get to have a beautiful, neatly finished dessert that actually looks like a cake, and not like a bunch of cookies glued together; not that there's anything really wrong with that. But sometimes - and for me that includes any time I'm serving more than (ulp!) half a litre of whipping cream at once - you want something more formal, more spectacular.

I was really happy with these biscuits, and I'll definitely make them again and for other purposes. I'm pretty certain that they will make fine ice-cream sandwiches, for instance. The recipe would cut in half very nicely, which is good because I suspect you could make at least 24 quite large ice-cream sandwiches with the full recipe, if not 36.

Now, I hate to interrupt this happy occasion (it was our annual family birthday party) with a RANT. But a RANT is required, because I went to both the local grocery stores to buy whipping cream to make this, AND NEITHER OF THEM CARRY WHIPPING CREAM ANY MORE!

Oh, they SAY they have whipping cream. It's right there on the large-print label of every dairy represented in this town's store refrigerators, which is 3 or 4 different dairies. 35% cream, it says. BUT THEY LIE - IT ISN'T WHIPPING CREAM. It's cream, plus skim milk, plus carrageenan, plus, plus, plus. Plus a bunch of CRAP, that's what.

Fortunately, I was able to call one of the guest/celebrants in Toronto before they left, and they brought me some organic whipping cream, and the day was saved. But make sure you read the label before you buy whipping cream from here on in. Accept, as they say, no substitutes. And that probably means that the cream MUST be organic.

Make 12 servings as a cake.
In addition to the time spent making the biscuits, allow
1 hour to assemble the cake and 12 to 24 hours for it to rest.

Makes 6 8" round biscuits or 72 to 96 individual biscuits.
Allow 2 1/2 hours if baking one tray at once.
Allow 1 1/2 hours if baking two trays at once.

Make the Biscuits:
2 cups soft unbleached flour
2 cups cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup soft unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda into a small mixing bowl and set them aside.

Cream the butter well, and beat in the sugar. When very smooth and soft, beat in the vanilla extract and the eggs, one at a time.

Stir the flour and cocoa mixture into the butter and sugar mixture half at a time, until you have a smooth, well blended dough. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Once the dough is mixed, cover it and set it aside to rest for about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line 2 or 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 6 equal parts.

Roll one part of the dough out into a circle a little larger than 8". Use the bottom of an 8" springform pan to mark a circle on the dough. Cut around the outside edge and remove the excess dough. Do not press the springform pan bottom down too hard, or you will have a difficult time removing it from the resulting circular biscuit. Prick the biscuit all over with a fork. Bake it for 15 to 18 minutes, until firm. Let cool on a rack, then stack on a plate until all the dough has been baked.

Repeat with each remaining piece of dough. Keep a piece of parchment paper between them as you stack the finished biscuits.

You can do this a day or two in advance, and you probably should. These are pretty basic cut-out cookies, really, but they do take some time to bake. You may also, of course, cut them out as individual biscuits if you prefer, using cookie cutters. They may take a minute or two less to bake if they are much smaller, and you won't need to prick them with the fork.

Prepare the Cream & Raspberry Filling:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water AND 2 teaspoons plain gelatine IF using frozen berries
2 cups frozen raspberries
OR 2 cups fresh fresh raspberries
300 ml (1 1/4 cups) whipping cream

If using frozen berries, put the sugar and water into a small pot. Bring to aboil and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and sprinkle over the gelatine. Stir until the gelatine dissolves. Set aside to cool completely.

If using fresh berries, put the sugar and cream into a mixing bowl, and omit the water and gelatine. Beat the cream and sugar until very stiff. Fold in the clean, ready raspberries. Otherwise, pour the sugar and gelatine over the raspberries. Beat the cream stiff, then fold in the sweetened berries and their syrup.

Lay a biscuit on your serving plate, and put about 1/5th of the raspberry cream in the middle. Spread it out carefully and evenly to the edges. Top with another biscuit, and repeat until all the biscuits and cream are stacked, finishing with the final biscuit.

Finish the Cake:
300 ml (1 1/4 cups) whipping cream
2 or 3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspon vanilla extract
raspberries to garnish

Beat the cream with the sugar and vanilla until very stiff. Use it to cover the top and sides of the cake. Cover the cake with a cake cover or other cover - a large bowl, for instance, that will keep out off-flavours. Put the cake into the fridge to rest for 12 to 24 hours. The biscuits should be fairly soft and the whole amalgamated into a melt-in-your-mouth pudding by the time it comes out. Serve garnished with fresh raspberries.

p.s. I did not bake the first couple of biscuits long enough, so I stuck them back in the oven for a few minutes more to bake longer, after they had been out long enough to cool substantially. That worked. They firmed up quite sufficiently. HOOOOray! I do like a nice, forgiving recipe like that.

p.p.s. If you want to cut the amount of whipping cream down to 500 ml in total - and you might, since that is a standard packaging size for it - you might also only want to make 5 biscuit circles to be stacked, and use the rest of the dough for something else. Biscuits for ice-cream sandwiches for example, as I keep saying. But nothing wrong with having them plain with a cup of tea or coffee either. I did actually use 500 ml cream for my 6 layers, and it worked okay, I just would have liked that little bit more cream in proportion to the biscuits.


Megan said...

I'm with you on the whipping cream. It's a major source of frustration for me. I rarely buy whipping cream, but when I do, I want the real stuff!

Free to be me: Danielle said...

OMG!! I LOVE your rant!! I'm with you all the way!! And this cake looks amazing... is there anything better than chocolate with raspberries?!? Will be making this soon!

Joanne said...

Homemade chocolate wafers - yum! That really takes this beauty up a notch.

Ugh that irritates me so much about the whipping cream! Why can't companies just make things with real natural products? Why is that so hard?

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