Tea with the Queen
The Queen loves afternoon tea with dainty sandwiches, scones and cake and a pot of tea: which she likes to brew herself. She’s fond of Dundee cake, Victoria sponge (obviously) and Battenberg, but her particular favourite is chocolate biscuit cake. Prince William loves it too: you may remember he had a beautifully decorated chocolate biscuit ‘groom’s cake’ for his and Kate’s wedding.
It seems that chocolate biscuit cake is much in demand with the royal family: it has certainly been Prince William’s favourite since childhood. Apparently, the Queen would make a point of requesting it when she knew Prince William was coming over from Eton for his Sunday tea.
Afternoon tea in the Queen’s apartments at Buckingham Palace usually consists of two types of sandwiches – cucumber is a favourite, scones, often with cream and strawberry jam, small pastries - possibly chocolate éclairs or little jam tarts, and one of the aforementioned cakes for the Queen to cut at. Earl Grey tea is served at tea time, although the Queen’s preferred tea is Darjeeling, which she enjoys first thing in the morning.
Usually, it seems as soon as tea is over she is happy for any leftover cake to go to the staff dining room for staff tea the next day.
But, apparently, when it is chocolate biscuit cake, it’s a different story altogether – the Queen loves it so much she asks for it to be kept and brought back to her own tea table every day until it has all gone. If it appears at tea on Thursdays, and the Queen is going to Windsor Castle for the weekend, she likes it wrapped up and sent over: someone is detailed to carry it by hand.
The Royal chocolate tiffin is made with dark chocolate, granulated sugar, butter, egg and Rich Tea biscuits and is covered with more dark chocolate. There may be glace cherries and nuts. Made in a round cake tin, it’s completely covered in chocolate and decorated.
Here’s a similar mini version made in a pudding basin. It’s so easy to make: if you have children and teenagers in the house, you can press them into service.
- 3 tablespoons golden syrup
- 75g butter, diced
- Approximately150g Rich Tea biscuits broken into small pieces
- 25g cocoa powder
- 50g dried cherries
- 100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
- 15g butter, diced
- Decorations of your choice
You will need a lightly greased 1 pint pudding basin, lined with cling film: leave enough over-hang to take hold of easily
Melt the golden syrup gently in a pan and stir in the butter. Once the butter has melted, stir in the biscuits, cocoa powder and cherries. Pile into the cling film lined basin and smooth down evenly with the back of a dampened metal spoon. Make sure the bottom is level as this will be the base of the cake.
Chill for 3 hours.
To cover the cake: microwave the chocolate in a heatproof bowl on High, in 30 second bursts: it will take a couple of minutes or so in all.
(Alternatively, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water: choose a bowl that will fit comfortably in the top of the saucepan but without the bottom touching the hot water.)
Stir in the butter towards the the end of the melting time.
Loosen the cake with a small palette knife and ease it out of basin using the overhanging cling film. Stand it, flat side down, on greaseproof paper. Remove the cling film. Pour chocolate over the top smoothing it down the sides.
Position the decorations before the chocolate sets. Trim away any excess chocolate from the bottom with a sharp knife and peel off the paper. Keep the cake cool and covered until ready to serve.
Cut the cake at the table, in slices crossways rather than wedges, with a sharp knife dipped in boiling water.