One of my fonder memories of little school is of our music lessons, which is to say, a few hours a week of banging a glockenspiel or singing. My music teacher for several crucial, formative years was Mrs Bailey – first name unknown – a proudly Scottish woman. If it were revealed to me that she was an ardent, SNP card-carrying nationalist, it would not surprise me in the slightest. Thanks to Mrs Bailey’s dedication, I am familiar with the patriotic music of Scotland and (to a lesser extent) Wales: we sang Loch Lomond and Scotland the Brave and the Skye Boat Song and Men of Harlech in her classes, and I’m fairly sure that my love of British folk music is entirely a result of those happy hours of lusty nationalist singing. I thought this kind of musical inculcation into the culture of Scotland was entirely typical for British schoolchildren, but it turns out almost none of my friends educated in England grew up singing these songs.
I was reminded sharply of Mrs Bailey and her love of Scottish ballads when I made chocolate teacakes for my baking challenge (bear with me here) because I associate chocolate teacakes very strongly with Scotland, primarily, I assume, because of the Scottish company Tunnock’s, whose red and gold packaging encases teacakes, snowballs (chocolate teacakes with coconut – divine) and, of course, caramel wafers. Indeed, in England, teacakes often refers to fruited, yeasted buns, which are toasted and eaten with butter. Perfectly good, of course, but austere compared to the idea of a biscuit topped with bouncy marshmallow and encased in a crisp shell of chocolate, very slightly bitter and dark to offset the intense sweetness of the white goo within. Scots are often stereotyped as dour and austere, but these national characteristics do not extend to their taste for teacakes.
Teacakes which, as it turns out, were fiddly and somewhat time-consuming but ultimately not that hard to make. Yes, you require a specialist mould to make the teacakes, though given my love of baking kit, this wasn’t particularly off-putting to me (it helps that you need a silicone mould – much easier to store than rigid metal tins). Yes, there are several components: the biscuit, the marshmallow (which happens to be vegetarian, which is exciting news), the chocolate shell. But on their own none of them are hard and you can break up the tasks and do them over different parts of the day.
I made these on a boiling hot day and was obliged to refrigerate them so that the chocolate would set; if you can, avoid chilling them, however, because once you do the chocolate loses its shine. However, if needs must, a dull homemade chocolate teacake is probably going to be better than no teacake at all.
The recipe is below the jump, as ever.
This post is part of my challenge to bake my way through all the challenges of the Great British Bake Off. The challenge below is the technical challenge for week eight (biscuit week) of series three: six chocolate teacakes.
Chocolate marshmallow teacakes
Recipe from BBC Food
NB: you will need a silicone half-sphere shaped mould with six hemispheres about around 7.5cm wide
For the biscuits
- 400g dark chocolate, around 40% cocoa solids (using chocolate with a higher percentage of coca solids isn’t recommended as it will make it harder to remove the teacakes from the mould – the recipe recommends Bournville)
- 50g plain wholemeal flour
- 50g plain flour
- pinch salt
- 0.5 tsp baking powder
- 25g caster sugar
- 25g butter
- 1 TBS milk
- Melt 300g of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). Set aside to cool slightly – it needs to be melted but not too runny to coat the moulds.
- Preheat the oven to 170C.
- Place the two flours, salt, baking powder and caster sugar in a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips. Add the milk and stir everything together to form a smooth ball. If, like me, you struggle to make the biscuits come together, add a bit of extra butter, dot by dot, until the dough coheres.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it’s about 5mm thick. Cut out six rounds of dough with a 7.5cm straight-sided round cutter. (NB: if your hemispheres are not 7.5cm wide, measure them and use a cutter as close as possible in size to the moulds). You may need to re-roll the dough but you will just about get six circles out of it.
- Place the biscuits on a flat plate or board and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. They need to be perfectly round and well-chilled, otherwise they might spread or shrink when baked.
- Bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes on a baking tray lined with baking paper. They need to be hard and crisp, not soft at all, so make sure they’ve had enough time before removing them. Cool the biscuits on a wire rack.
- Coat the inside of the silicone moulds with the melted chocolate, using the back of a teaspoon to run the chocolate around the moulds. The chocolate needs to be thick enough to be sturdy but not so thick the biscuits will be hard to eat, and the shell should be as even around the sides as possible. If your chocolate is too runny, the top of the dome will be too thick and the sides too thin, so review this if your chocolate is still quite thin.
- Set the mould aside to allow the chocolate to set; avoid putting this in the fridge.
- Cover the biscuits in the remaining melted chocolate, melting some of the remaining chocolate if you need more. You can either dip the biscuits in the chocolate to cover them completely or spread the chocolate with a palette knife or pastry brush. Place the coated biscuits onto baking paper to set.
For the marshmallow
- 3 egg whites
- 150g caster sugar
- 6 TBS golden syrup
- 0.5 tsp salt
- 0.5 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
- Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
- Whisk the mixture with an electric beater for 6-8 minutes, until smooth, silky, and doubled in volume. It should be very stiff, the consistency of whipped cream, and not runny at all, as it needs to hold when piped.
To assemble (once the chocolate in the moulds has set)
- Spoon the marshmallow mixture into a piping bag. Melt the remaining chocolate, and place in a disposable piping bag (don’t cut the end yet). Set aside so it firms up a bit (but not so that it hardens completely).
- Peel the biscuits off the baking paper and place onto a piece of clean baking paper, flat (or, well, flatter) side down.
- Pipe the marshmallow into each chocolate-lined mould, just up to the top. Snip a 2cm end off the piping bag with the chocolate in it. Carefully pipe some chocolate on the marshmallow and a rim of chocolate around a biscuit base, and quickly place the biscuit on top of the marshmallow-filled dome. Repeat with the remaining five domes/biscuits. Smooth the joins with a knife.
- Leave the teacakes to set until completely cool and sealed together. Then, carefully remove the teacakes from the mould – avoid breaking the chocolate shell you worked so hard on as you turn them out! And avoiding touching the chocolate dome directly as you will leave fingerprints. (NB: you may find that some of the chocolate dome separates from the base when turning them out. I assume that practice makes perfect on sealing these perfectly!)
- Keep the teacakes cool, but don’t refrigerate if you want to avoid the chocolate losing its shine.