Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Queen’s Chocolate Biscuit Cake/Atta-Boy Dog Biscuits

Ta fyra mogna lingon och Sorry, Dollinks! I was translating my new recipe blog into Swedish, to prepare for the global onslaught. I’ve had a little trouble translating it into Xhosa. Each time I try, I’m forced to wipe down the computer screen. 
My new blog already has 15 followers! I’m embarrassed to say that one of them is me. In trying to figure out how blogs work, I clicked a button that said “Follow.” Up popped a congratulatory message reading: “Welcome, Nicole! You are one of Nicole’s followers!” This gives new meaning to the phrase: “Wherever I go, there I am.” 
The good news is that the number of those “following” has risen. The bad news is that I’m now being “followed” not by one dog, but by two. Ron is also a “follower.” I coerced him into doing it, saying that unless he followed my blog, I’d cut him off - from eating and testing my recipes, that is. He answered that “If you spent half as much time cooking as you do blogging, we’d actually have something to eat in this house!” The natives are restless. I’d best type fast.
I’m hopeful that my new recipe blog will attract advertisers. With my growing contingent of canine readers, perhaps Purina will bite! In the long-ago days when I was a newspaper columnist, I once taste-tested dog foods by eating them. (No wonder they call me a bitch). I was particularly partial to Purina’s Cheese and Bacon Flavor Beggin’ Strips. The ad said: “Dogs will love the taste of these delicious snacks so much they will never know they are low in fat.” None of the dogs I’ve owned has cared all that much about nutritional labeling, but then, Purina’s dogs are probably into Pilates and yoga, too.  
I’d hoped to stop sending you these recipe emails by now (you’d probably hoped so, too), but to my consternation, I still have no access to my own blog (!), and no way to post to it. To my relief, I’ve learned that it was not I who set up this blog - it was one of my naughty twin daughters, Samantha and Erin (who in their childhood, in an unfortunate reference to my cooking, dubbed themselves Sam n Ella). In fiddling around with recipes, I inadvertently stumbled upon what was to be My New Recipe Blog (and Erin’s big secret) for my upcoming birthday! 
(Now that the truth is out, I must beg you not to send cards! However, for your ease and convenience, I’m on file with the Gift Registry at Macy’s in New York, David Jones in Sydney, and The Bay in Canada. South Africans, simply send wine). I hope to be able to post to my new blog when my daughters surprise me in a couple of days with the news that I have one. I suppose there’s a URL, but the present way of finding it is to click on Google, click on “More” at the top of the page, click on “Blogs,” and then enter “Nicole Parton’s Favorite Recipes.” 
I’m not supposed to know any of this, but have lived the life of a sleuth since I was five years old, at which point I discovered the ease of slipping my mother’s nail file under the sticky tape of the wrapped Christmas presents hidden in her clothes closet. If I didn’t like what I saw, I switched the tags with a gift meant for my sister. My strategy occasionally went awry, like the time I opened the box with the wet-’em doll while my sister received her first electric shaver. I was 16 and she was 5, at the time. Today, I’m on the cusp of 65 while she answers to 43. Go figure.
But I digress. We’re off to London! I have for you the Queen’s very own Chocolate Biscuit Cake that Prince William recently ordered as his Groom’s Cake. Somewhere, somewhere has probably already blogged about it, because the whole world knows William and Kate are being married in Westminster Abbey on Friday, April 29. Mazeltov!
I made The Queen’s Chocolate Biscuit Cake this week, splurging to buy a one-pound slab of Callebaut’s dark Belgian chocolate for it. The result was worth the expense, but any dark, high-quality chocolate will do. As its name suggests, this cake is actually made with biscuits. I used McVitie’s Rich Tea Biscuits for the job. The Queen’s chef also uses McVitie’s, and what’s good enough for the Queen is good enough for me. Made in Britain, the brand is sold worldwide. I wouldn’t be surprised if 7-Eleven stocks em. (How many advertisers’ names have I dropped, now? I’ve got to open a new bank account!)
The Queen’s Chocolate Biscuit Cake is an extremely rich delight (but so is she), so a whisper-thin slice goes a long way. Taste-tester Ron, who tried a sliver, pronounced it excellent. I agree. Our cake is now in the freezer, awaiting drop-in visitors on some future occasion. The recipe’s quite simple - when I made it, I fancied myself having tea with the Queen. (As a journalist, I once had a cocktail with her, but that was eons ago! Before the Queen chatted with me, a lady-in-waiting reminded me to curtsy and greet her as “Your Majesty.” I quickly intuited that one of the things one does not say to the Queen is “Haven’t I seen you some place before?”) 
You will not regret making The Queen’s Chocolate Biscuit Cake, whether you’ve met her or not. Making it is also appropriate because tomorrow - April 21 - is Queen Elizabeth’s 85th birthday. Long may Her Majesty reign! 
Any writer who hopes to connect must write to her target audience. Thus, today’s second recipe is one for Atta-Boy Dog Biscuits. Your pooch will love these homemade doggie treats! Ron judged them pretty good, too. Pilates-practicing dogs already know that certain ingredients - especially chocolate! - are a nutritional no-no, having a toxic effect on canine digestive systems. Be careful what you serve your dog! And your guests.
So, two-legged readers, pull up a computer chair and stay awhile! As for you, happy tail-waggers, “Si-t-t-t-t!” (Now which recipe was which? Oh, dear …)
The Queen’s Chocolate Biscuit Cake:
1-¼ c. whole wheat flour
¼ c. powdered milk
½ tsp. garlic powder
1-½ tsp. wheat germ
½ tsp. beef bouillon granules
2-½ tbsp. bacon grease
½ egg
¼ c. ice water
Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. In a medium bowl, stir together the whole wheat flour, powdered milk, garlic powder, wheat germ, and beef bouillon granules. Stir in the bacon grease (strained or unstrained) and half-an-egg (whisk a whole egg to combine white and yolk, using half of it). Add ice water 1 tbsp. at a time until dough forms a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to ½-inch thickness, cutting into squares or inch-wide four-inch strips. Place biscuits an inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until firm. Cool before serving.
Atta-Boy Dog Biscuits:
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ c. granulated sugar
1 lb. (500 g) dark chocolate, chopped and divided into four portions
1 large egg, beaten
26 - 28 McVitie’s Rich Tea Biscuits (or other tea biscuits such as Social Tea), broken into bite-sized chunks (I bought a 200 g package)
Prepare all ingredients before proceeding. Line bottom of 7-inch (or other small) non-stick spring-form pan with parchment paper. Butter the sides of the pan. Using electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, 1 or 2 minutes. In a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water, partially melt one-quarter of the chopped chocolate, stirring until fully melted. Stir in butter mixture. Remove from heat, cooling until barely warm. Stir in egg, blending well. Add biscuits, stirring until completely coated. 
Pack biscuit mixture into prepared cake pan, filling gaps as much as possible. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Unmould and remove from spring-form pan, turning cake upside down. Place on a fresh sheet of parchment paper, peeling paper from what is now the top (formerly the bottom) of cake.
In a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water, partially melt remaining three-quarters of the chopped chocolate, stirring until fully melted. Slowly pour over cake, filling crevices and smoothing top and sides using a large spoon or spatula.
Stand at room temperature at least 1 hour. Let the cake stand at room temperature, too, also at least an hour. Carefully run knife around bottom of cake where it has stuck to parchment paper, transferring cake to serving plate or stomach. Serves 8 king-sized portions, or 16 fit for a Queen. 
Send that wine, South Africans - or you can forget the Xhosa translation!

Isn't this a dainty dish to set before a Queen?

This cake is as rich as the Queen, too!

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