How to make the Queen's favourite chocolate biscuits!

Now that's a proper afternoon tea!

Now that's a proper afternoon tea! - Credit: Steve Adams

In the first of a new series, chef Richard Hughes shares royal stories and a recipe for one of the Queen's favourites

There is a treasured photograph in The Assembly House’s archive of a Royal Princess being driven through our imposing gates to enjoy lunch in the restaurant.  

Princess Elizabeth sweeps in to the Assembly House

Princess Elizabeth sweeps in to the Assembly House - Credit: Archant

The Festival of Britain was taking place in May and June of 1951 and Norwich was one of the cities chosen to hold its own festival; Princess Elizabeth officially opened the celebrations on June 18, 1951 from the balcony of City Hall. 

During her six-hour stay in Norwich, which involved many tours and civic receptions, it was inevitable that the Princess needed sustenance and where better to enjoy the afternoon but at The Assembly House with Lord Mayor Eric Hinde? 

Within a year, Princess Elizabeth was Queen and in this year she became the first British monarch to celebrate 70 years of service to the people of the United Kingdom, the Realms and the Commonwealth. 

Princess Elizabeth addresses a huge crowd from the balcony of Norwich City Hall

Princess Elizabeth addresses a huge crowd from the balcony of Norwich City Hall - Credit: Archant

We do like to treat all our customers like royalty – especially when they ARE royalty – so we decided to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with something special. 

When we discovered that Her Majesty’s favourite cake was Chocolate Biscuit Cake, we had an idea… 

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The Queen’s Teatime Afternoon Tea, which is being served until June 30, features not only her favourite cake, but also our favourite biscuits in a celebration of two national treasures: the Queen and biscuits! 

Chocolate biscuit heaven from the Assembly House kitchens

Chocolate biscuit heaven from the Assembly House kitchens - Credit: Steve Adams

“This chocolate biscuit cake is Her Royal Majesty the Queen’s favourite afternoon tea cake by far,” chef Darren McGrady, The Royal Chef and former personal chef to Queen Elizabeth II, said. 

“This cake is probably the only one that is sent into the royal dining room again and again until it has all gone.” 

There’s another member of the royal family who is a fan of this cake too: “This chocolate biscuit cake was Prince William’s groom’s cake at his wedding. The reason he chose it is that he used to go to tea with the Queen and he got a taste for it.” 

Not to compare myself to Royalty, but I lived on biscuits for four years.  

When I first moved to Great Yarmouth to work at The Imperial Hotel in 1977, aged 15, I lived in digs nearby.  

I was supposed to get my meals at the hotel, but I was always too frightened to ask for them - however, my local Nisa store sold three packets of biscuits for 75p, so I bought three packs a day for about four years!  

I always went for the custard creams and it was a bad day when there were only shortcakes left in the wire basket. An afternoon tea with a biscuit theme is my idea of heaven! 

Princess Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth) travelling in car down Gaol Hill Norwich,
Dated: 18th June 19

Princess Elizabeth travelling in a motorcade down Gaol Hill Norwich, on June 18, 1951 - Credit: Archant

We’ve used a version of the official recipe for Her Majesty’s favourite cake in our afternoon tea, taking the liberty of crowning our slices with delicate gold leaf.  

If you try this recipe at home and create your own chocolate biscuit cake (it’s the icing which makes it regal, apparently) then might we suggest that you also serve strawberry jam pennies alongside your slices? 

Apparently, the Queen still loves jam pennies after being served them when she was a little Princess and the recipe, fittingly, is child’s play. They are simply sandwiches of butter and jam cut into circles the size of an old English penny which are served at teatime.  

What good taste you have, Your Majesty. 

Find out more about The Queen’s Teatime Afternoon Tea here assemblyhousenorwich.co.uk/afternoon-tea/menus 

The Assembly House tea, featuring the Queen's favourite biscuit

The Assembly House tea, featuring the Queen's favourite biscuit - Credit: Steve Adams

The Queen’s Chocolate Biscuit Cake  

1/2 teaspoon butter, for greasing the pan 

225g Rich Tea biscuits  

100g unsalted butter, softened 

100g granulated sugar 

100g dark chocolate 

1 egg 

ICING 

225g dark chocolate, for coating 

Preparation 

Lightly grease a 6-inch-by-2½-inch cake ring with the butter and place on a tray on a sheet of parchment paper. 

Break each of the biscuits into small pieces by hand and set aside. 

In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar until the mixture starts to lighten. 

Melt the 100g of the dark chocolate and add to the butter mixture, stirring constantly. Add the egg and beat to combine. 

Fold in the biscuit pieces until they are all coated with the chocolate mixture. 

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake ring. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least three hours. 

Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it stand. Meanwhile, melt the 225g of dark chocolate in a double boiler or saucepan on the stove top over low heat. Slide the ring off the cake and turn it upside down onto a cake wire. 

Pour the melted chocolate over the cake and smooth the top and sides using a palette knife. Allow the chocolate to set at room temperature. 

Carefully run a knife around the bottom of the cake where the chocolate has stuck it to the cake wire and lift it onto a tea plate. Eat!