Biscuit cake (Tarta de galletas)
Our feature writer Maria shares her easy recipe for biscuit cake that the little ones can lend a helping hand with.
Does the idea of cooking or baking with kids scare you out of your wits? Yep, it petrifies me too, so I promise you this one is as easy as it gets. Even better, there are no ovens involved!
The “Tarta de galletas” (literally “Cake of biscuits”) is a Spanish classic. There are as many variations of this recipe as there are households in Spain.
What makes this cake a hit is that it is so easy that even a child can do it. This year for my birthday I put this theory to the test with very pleasant results: my 25 month old was able to make me a tasty cake under my supervision and we had a blast in the process.
I have found that the key is to be organised so this list is long because it’s comprehensive and I give you tips to keep you sane before and during the process.
- A mold, I used a round non-stick tin so that it would slip off easily when turning it, but you can use whatever you have at home.
- A bowl
- A deep plate
- A spatula for you
- A wooden or silicon spoon for each child
- Aprons, tabards, old clothes to cover them
- A bath to stick the kids into once you’re finished, they will get covered in chocolate
- A couple of packs of Marie biscuits (we always find them easily at Tesco, by a brand named Crawfords)
- 2 packs of cooking / fondant chocolate or, to be honest, any chocolate you have at home if it’s a rainy day and you’re at the end of your tether (same goes for the biscuits, as long as they are simple biscuits). We used Green & Black’s this time.
- Milk (I would suggest at least half a pint but stay on the safe side with more as there may be spillages, requests to drink some, you may seriously need a coffee…)
- Cinnamon (in powdered format)
Brandy, Baileys or Tia Maria (you know, if the cake is just for you…)
- We used icing sugar, chocolate sprinkles and Smarties or similar. If you have older kids you can get their input on this one.
(Kids are not essential by the way, you are totally allowed to do this for yourself!)
The key with this is to have a clear space (I did it on the kitchen table), the kid(s) ready and covered and everything laid out on the table with you hovering around supervising. Yes, you’re going to have to be a helicopter mum for this one.
1. Crack one pack of chocolate into pieces, place them in a bowl with a splash of milk, melt the chocolate by either placing the bowl over a pan with water on the stove (bain marie) stirring continuously or placing it in the microwave (1 minute and a good stir may do it, if it’s not enough, keep heating in 10-20 seconds increment always stirring well after to let it all melt well).
2. Place milk in the deep plate without filling it up too much, sprinkle it with cinnamon (adapt the amount to your taste but a teaspoon is enough to start, I personally like more like a tablespoon) and microwave for about 40 seconds or warm in a saucepan, no need for it to be too hot. If you want to use brandy, Tia Maria or Baileys, this is the time to add a splash.
3. Spread the biscuits on a plate or give each child a bunch of them. Show them to dip the biscuits in the milk and cover the base of the mould with them, breaking some of the biscuits in smaller pieces to cover any gaps.
4. Cover that layer of biscuits with the melted chocolate (which by now should be cool enough for kids to handle), use the spatula to smooth it while they’re busy dipping more biscuits to do the next layer.
5. Continue with one layer of biscuits and one layer of chocolate until you have reached the top of your mould.
6. Finish with a layer of chocolate (if you run out of chocolate, crack open the second pack but try not to use it all, you may need it at the end). Cover it with cling film or a plate and place it in the fridge, ideally overnight but, if you’re in a hurry, within an hour or two it will have set.
7. To finish it off you can either turn it onto a plate (I had to stick the flat handle of a spoon all round the edges for this, lifting it a bit to turn it onto the plate). But you can just as easily leave it on the mould, put a ribbon around it or cover it somehow if you want to make it pretty.
8. If you have turned it onto a plate (or cake stand), melt the rest of the chocolate (I added some icing sugar at this stage, not much, a tablespoon at most) and cover the cake.
9. Hand the kids some spoons and some icing sugar (warning: don’t let them have ALL the icing sugar, they will cover the cake in it!) and let them gently shake the spoons sideways over the cake to distribute it, same with the chocolate sprinkles and with the Smarties. However, note that my daughter ended up wanting more Smarties than cake so perhaps leave the Smarties out if you think that may be the case.
10. Return to the fridge for a while and you are sorted, if they want to tuck in straight away. Well, why not?
Optional: Add sugar and/or butter to the melted chocolate as you see fit, my version is a bit bitter but kids seem to love it and it means that my diabetic husband can eat it too!
TIP 1: If you have more than one kid and they’re not that into sharing, you can make individual portions with round ramekins as the Marie biscuits will probably fit perfectly into them and they are then ready to serve in the own ramekin, making it perfect to take with you on a picnic.
TIP 2: You may realise from the previous tip that, should you ever need a quick treat just for you after a day of pulling your hair out, you can speedily make one of these just for you or, if you are being really nice, more to share.
Fun Fact: Did you know that dark chocolate is very rich in iron?