Homemade Jaffa Cakes (for the 11 year old’s Birthday)
It can be a pain in one’s well-padded tuchus if one loves British sweets, chocolate and biscuits, but doesn’t currently live in the UK or its ex-territories. Yup, the former colonies got the short end of the chocolate finger here, for those Brits came, they conquered, they built the train lines, they took the jewels, the Jaffa cake and the curry, and left those behind with royally sweet teeth.
Luckily for us here in Montclair, NJ, we have a Pie Store barely half a mile away – far enough to burn up the energy in a square of Cadbury’s chocolate – which sells fresh British sweet or savory pies, but, almost more importantly, Cadbury’s and other chocolate, Digestives, Rowntree’s Gums, Dolly Mixtures, Marmite – and Heinz’s Baked Beans. Those baked beans do taste different in the UK (they are way better).
My younger son, who just turned 11 (and had a homemade Minecraft cake last year), asked me to make a large version of Jaffa Cakes for his birthday this year. As it was going to be tricky to keep the jelly layer intact when transferring it to the cake, I decided to do little Jaffa-sized ones.
For the uninitiated, a Jaffa cake is a biscuit (British usage) or cookie, with a layer of cake at the bottom, a middle layer of marmaladey orange jelly (or Jello), and a top slathering of dark chocolate.
Here’s how you make them.
Jelly layer (do it a day earlier, or in the morning, with cake assembly to be done in the afternoon):
- one packet orange jelly
- Follow the instructions to make the jelly, reducing the amount of water slightly (say, 1 1/2 cups instead of 2)
- Add marmalade and mix
- Pour into a flat dish or plate with curved side. It should be at least 1 cm high (1/2 inch) or a touch under
- Remove from fridge an hour before you need to layer the jaffa cakes
- eggs, 4
- sugar, 1/2 cup (or 4 oz)
- butter, 1/2 stick or 1/4 cup (4 oz)
- zest of an orange
- Cream the egg and sugar till fluffy and light
- Add butter, vanilla and zest and mix further
- Note this recipe makes a rather stiff cake, which is needed to hold the layers on top
- Bake in a preheated 360F oven for about 8-12 minutes
- Use cupcake liners for easy removal from the pan
- Pour the tiniest amount needed, just to cover the bottom of the cupcake liners. Maybe 2 tbsp.
- For a more authentic look (and more cleaning), don’t use cupcake liners!
- Bake, then allow to cool
For the chocolate layer:
- chocolate, 8 oz (milk or semi sweet or a mix of both)
- cream, 2 tbsp
- butter, 1 tbsp
- Melt the chocolate in short bursts in a microwave
- Stir, and if it’s melted completely, add the cream and butter while it’s hot
- Keep aside and get ready to assemble
- First, have your little jaffa cake layers ready
- Use a round cookie/biscuit cutter to make circles in your plate of jelly/jello
- With a tablespoon or spatula, try to lift that circle of jelly, intact if possible, and transfer to the cake
- It doesn’t matter if it looks messy at this point (or any point, for that matter)
- Then, while the chocolate is still liquidy but not hot, pour it into a piping bag and snip off the end
- Pipe the chocolate onto the jelly layer as evenly as possible, smooth with a frosting palate knife (or whatever it’s called)
- Before the chocolate hardens, swirl some patterns onto it (if you wish)
Et voila, they’re done! Do not eat them all at once
(These Jaffa cakes were refrigerated, hence their glistening quality.)