Half way to London for lunch with Eleanor the birthday girl, I realised that I had forgotten the birthday cake. So, as we were meeting in Piccadilly, Lettice and I popped into Ladurée and chose a box of macaroons to stand in until Friday, when she's home and can eat the one I made last night ... these are, from left to right: lemon, coffee, blackcurrant, chocolate, mint, raspberry, vanilla, pistachio. Beautiful colours, fabulous tastes, birthday extravagence.
This recipe originally came from my mother-in-law, and I have made it for years. When the children were small and took cake with them to school to share at elevenses, teachers often used to ask if I would make it. Very simple, very good, tiny squares are enough.
Very rich refrigerator cake
These quantities will make enough to use a dinner plate as a mould
250g digestive biscuits
125g dark chocolate
3 dessertspoons cocoa
3 dessertspoons golden syrup
Bash up the biscuits. It's better if they're not reduced to a fine tilth, the cake has a better texture if the biscuits are lumpy. But I've made it with crumbs from the food processor too. Use the end of a rolling pin.
In a large saucepan, melt all the other ingredients. The chocolate has a tendency to catch on the bottom, unless there's a film of butter underneath. When everything is melted, take it off the heat and stir in the biscuit crumbs. Then spread them out onto tinfoil. If I want it to look neat, I put the tinfoil onto a plate, and use that as a guide, but I don't always bother. Wrap in tinfoil (the easiest is to use a piece of foil twice the size of the cake, spread it in the middle, and then pull up the sides), and put in a cool place for an hour or two. Or make a day or two ahead.
PS here's a photo of the birthday girl taken at lunch, which we had at Nove in Sackville Street - a nice, unpretentious and not too pricey Italian just off Piccadilly. We were almost the only people there, what a shame
La Croustade aux Pommes - La Croustade. Think crusty, crunchy, and sugary pastry. Aux Pommes. Think juicy, sweet, and acidy apples. This is the one sweet French recipe you need ...
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