Time for tiffin

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When L and G got married last year they chose not to have a traditional wedding cake. Instead they asked close friends and family to contribute a favourite cake, all of which were laid out on a buffet table at the end of the wedding breakfast, so that guests could help themselves to whatever treat they fancied with their coffee.

In a fit of madness, R and I chose to make a chocolate tiffin – which was a favourite insofar as we liked eating it, but which we’d never actually made before. I read about a dozen recipes on the internet, decided what I thought would work and what I wanted to do differently, and then, essentially, we busked it. The evening before decamping to Wales for the wedding.

As you might predict, I was a tad anxious about this, and keen to check our untested offering on The Day, but within a couple of minutes of the cake buffet opening, the tiffin had disappeared. Gratifying, certainly, but I still wasn’t certain about the recipe, and I had no idea who’d eaten it so I wasn’t able to ask for an honest review. So a few months later I made it again (or something similar, at least, because in my normal organised fashion I hadn’t made detailed notes the first time round; you may find it difficult to believe, but in a former existence I used to describe myself as an administrator), and this time I did get to try it. And it’s pretty good, if I do say so myself. So, with this being a festive weekend chez us, on Friday I made some more, and yesterday we took most of it to Cardiff for the Birthday Child – retaining just a little for the Almost Birthday Mother and Almost Birthday Mother’s Husband, because fair’s fair, after all.

Here is the recipe, which you can mess about with in any number of ways. I like lots of fruit, but you can use less (or even more, if you like); you could also use chopped nuts if you like those, but if you do, I’d be inclined to treat them as a ‘dry’ ingredient, and reduce the amount of biscuit crumb slightly. The chocolate layer on the top is, however, crucial.

J and R’s Chocolate Tiffin

150g unsalted butter
2 tbsp soft brown sugar (I use coconut sugar for the richness of its flavour)
100g golden syrup
2 tbsp very good cocoa powder
300g Rich Tea biscuits
100g raisins (or sultanas, or a mixture)
75g dried cranberries (or dried blueberries, or a mixture)
200g undyed glacé cherries, chopped to about raisin size
300g good quality chocolate (half milk and half plain)

Crush the digestive biscuits coarsely.

Melt together the butter, sugar, syrup and cocoa, either in a double boiler or carefully in the microwave.

Add the fruit and mix well.

Add the crushed biscuit in batches, mixing each time. You probably won’t need the full 300g – stop when your mixture is getting hard to work with, and you can see a few uncoated biscuit pieces.

Press into a lined 20×30 cm Swiss roll tin, or a smaller surface area tin if you want thicker pieces.

Carefully melt together the milk and plain chocolate, and pour over the mixture.

Refrigerate for an hour to set.

Cut into 20 pieces. Or 40 if you like – people can always come back for a second one. If they’re quick about it.