When my Mother was a child one of her favourite things my Nan would make at Christmas was Chocolate Biscuit Cake and she just so happened to keep the recipe. One of the primary ingredients is something called Copha – in fact the recipe was in a Copha cookbook – and according to my Mother is was a very commonly used product when she was young. Around since 1933 and only available in Australia, it is a vegetable shortening and according to their website is made with more than 99% coconut oil and less than 1% soy lecithin. Ever eaten a chocolate crackle? Then chances are you’ve eaten Copha. Chocolate crackles are their signature recipe. Aside from baking it is also used to fry food and comes as a block, not unlike butter. It melts into a clear liquid and is often mixed with cocoa to make a chocolate sauce that dries hard. This is how it’s used in the Chocolate Biscuit Cake.
This recipe is so simple to make and once it’s all constructed all you need to do is let it set in the fridge!
What you will need
240g / 2 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
250g milk coffee biscuits (I used one packet)
1 tablespoon dry sherry or rum (optional)
Melt the Copha in a saucepan over a low heat and set it aside to cool slightly. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a mixing bowl and add the beaten egg and vanilla essence. Tip – actually mix the icing sugar and cocoa before you sift them and lightly beat the egg and vanilla essence together in a small bowl before adding it to the larger mixing bowl. Combine well.
Pour the warm Copha over the ingredients gradually, continuously mixing, and combine until mixture is smooth. Line a straight sided 15cm square cake tin with foil or baking paper. Starting and finishing with the chocolate mixture, begin to create layers – chocolate – biscuit – chocolate – biscuit – etc. Arrange the biscuit layers in alternate directions which will give you a nice brick-wall finish when cut. As the biscuits are rectangular they won’t fit perfectly so you will need to cut up some biscuits to make it neat. If you want to add the sherry or rum you can drizzle each biscuit layer. Allow to set in the fridge for probably about 3 – 4 hours but the longer the better. The original recipe said to remove from the fridge an hour before slicing so it could settle but as it’s been so hot it became a little melted. I found it easy enough to cut straight from the fridge. You’ll only want small slices as it is a bit rich and depending on how you choose to create it – wider or higher – it apparently makes 20 – 24 slices.
I’m not entirely sure how healthy Copha is, it is essentially a fat and it is hydrogenated so I probably wouldn’t go eating it every week! If you’re in any way unsure of using it there is a lot of information available online.