Mr Frost's Chocolate Cake

Konditor and Cook Tiffin

The mother rang this morning asking if I could suggest something other than her usual salad offering to take to a friend's leaving supper. Contrary to what you might expect, my culinary knowledge was not learnt at my mothers knee - although she does a mean stew (being Irish, I think it's in the blood). She just wanted something simple and quick that would still appear thoughtful and generous - ie; not a bag of pre washed salad. The main factor in deciding what to suggest is that my mother does not posses an oven (gasp) and so everything must be done on the hob. After exploring a few savoury options we decided that as her friend was actually a chocoholic, why not just go with that?

As part of my retro recipe challenge research I have been revisiting Jane Grigson's English Food and came across a recipe for tiffin entitled, Mr Frost's Chocolate Cake. Apparently Jane's husband adored the tiffin that Mr Frost made in his Cirencester restaurant and asked for the recipe so his wife could make it. She being somewhat sniffy about what she terms, 'infant cornflake cookery', had shied away from such recipes until presented with this one - which she so graciously deigned to make for her husband. She was pleasantly surprised, but instructs us to only make it using fine desert chocolate - as if I would entertain using anything less? I have altered it slightly to include some preserved ginger and ginger biscuits - if you don't like ginger then use the alternatives listed. To make a sweeter cake use half milk and half dark chocolate. I think entirely milk might be a little nurseryish.

Mr Frost's Chocolate Cake (Tiffin)

200g slightly salted butter
200g dark chocolate (75%-85% cocoa)
200g gluten free gingernut biscuits (or any home made gluten free biscuit - nut pastry etc)
125g whole almonds
125g whole hazelnuts
50g preserved stem ginger - in syrup (or for sugar free option prunes/apricots/figs maybe soaked in brandy?)

square baking tray lined with baking paper or rice paper

Toast the nuts very slowly in a dry pan until an almond squeaks when you bite it - don't let them colour too much. Put all the nuts in a clean tea towel and rub the skins off the hazelnuts. Cool and chop roughly. Chop the preserved ginger into small chunks.

Make piles of the biscuits and cut them downwards into roughly 1cm chunks, with lots of crumbs too (or put in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin to make chunks and crumbs).

Melt the butter over a low heat. Off the heat add the chocolate and leave for a minute to start to melt. Stir gently until smooth, then stir in the nuts, biscuits and preserved ginger. Smooth into a baking paper or rice paper lined tin, aiming for a layer not more than an inch thick. (If using rice paper, press another layer on the top and weight down with a book). Chill until set - over night is good. Then cut into fingers and enjoy after dinner with a strong coffee.