Digestive biscuit

Half term treat – Mary Berry’s honeycomb crunchies

honeycomb crunchies
I don’t often cook the recipes featured on the front page of the BBC website, but as a huge fan of Crunchie chocolate bars I just had to give this one a go.

I’ve always wanted to try making honeycomb and it’s actually quite straightforward with Mary’s recipe (the only tricky bit is getting the molten sugar off the saucepan afterwards).

These chocolaty bites are absolutely delicious. They are crunchy and chewy at the same time and the sugar content is so off the scale that my children went mad for them. My daughter Elizabeth ate three pieces in one day, but then again so did I.

Mary Berry’s honeycomb crunchies

For the honeycomb

  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • flavourless oil (such as vegetable oil), for greasing

To assemble

  • 250g of dark or milk chocolate (I used half dark and half milk)
  • 100g butter, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 150g digestive biscuits

Start by making the honeycomb. Measure out one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and set aside, then lightly grease a flat baking tray.

Put the sugar and golden syrup into a saucepan and set it on a very low heat for 10 minutes until all the sugar has melted. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. When the sugar is completely melted, turn up the heat to medium. Once the mixture has started to boil leave to bubble without stirring until it turns golden-brown (this only takes a couple of minutes).

Turn off the heat, add the bicarbonate of soda and quickly whisk for a couple of seconds. The mixture will froth up massively so make sure you use a saucepan with plenty of room. Quickly pour it into the middle of the oiled baking tray and don’t spread it out or touch it or the tray. Leave for about 30 minutes to cool and harden. You can hurry things along by putting it into the fridge after about 15 minutes.

Line a square 20.5cm/8in tin with baking paper.

Break up the chocolate into small pieces and put in a heatproof bowl. Melt gently over a pan of simmering water, then add the butter and golden syrup. Stir until the butter has melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside.

Use your hands or a knife to break up the biscuits and honeycomb into chunks the size of your thumbnail (Mary uses a rolling pin to do this but I found that this just smashed them into tiny crumbs). Put them into a mixing bowl and pour over the melted chocolate mixture. Stir until all the chunks are coated and pour the whole lot into the prepared tin. Spread it right into the corners.

Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 2 hours before cutting into squares with a sharp knife. Mary cuts hers into 16 but you can make them as big or little as you like.

Eat straight from the fridge. Mary says they keep for a couple of days but if yours last that long then you’ve got more willpower than I.

NOTE: These are fun to make with kids, but although they will love watching the bit where the honeycomb froths up keep them at a distance as the mixture is scalding hot.

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Ode to the digestive – part 3, Key lime pie

key lime pie

This is another really easy recipe with a digestive biscuit base. There are so many versions of Key lime pie knocking around, some baked, some not, some with a biscuit base and some with pastry. I think a truly authentic pie should actually have a pastry case, a similar filling to mine but uncooked, and then the addition of a meringue topping, rather like a lemon meringue pie. Put like that my version has so little in common with the real thing that maybe I ought to give it a new name.

The benefit of this version is that it’s cooked so you can serve it to pregnant women. The sharp lime flavour means that it works well as a dessert to follow a Thai, Indian or Mexican inspired menu where you’ve used lots of spice and garlic. The lime flavour is pretty intense and if you’re not a fan of limes then you can use lemons instead.

A sort of Key lime pie

Serves 8-10

Base

  • 200g digestive biscuits crushed with a rolling pin or in a food processor. (I think it is fine to use cheaper value digestive biscuits for bases.)
  • 75g butter

Filling

  • Zest of 3 limes (leave this out if using bottled lime juice)
  • 150ml lime juice (about 4-5 large limes, or use bottled lime juice)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 x 397g tin of condensed milk

Preheat the oven to 160oC fan.

For the biscuit base melt the butter in a saucepan and then add the crushed digestives. Stir to combine and then tip into a loose bottomed flan tin with a diameter of 23 cm. Press the biscuit mixture up the sides of the tin as well as on the bottom. Leave to chill in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

In a large mixing bowl add the eggs and lime zest (if using) and mix with an electric hand whisk until thickened. This usually takes about 2 minutes. Then add the condensed milk and whisk for another 4 minutes. Finally add the lime juice and give it another quick whisk (it will really thicken up now)*. Then pour into the prepared base and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

* I’ll let you into a secret, the last time I made this I misread the recipe and added the lime juice to the eggs instead of just the zest in the first step. In a panic I just bunged in all the filling ingredients together and whisked for a couple of minutes (it thickened up immediately because of the lime juice). I have to say that the result was exactly the same but I feel I should give you the legitimate recipe in the first instance.

When it’s completely cool cover and chill in the fridge until you are ready to serve. I don’t cover with cling film as the top is very fragile and comes away with the cling film when you remove it. I tend to cover with a shallow bowl which fits neatly over the tin without touching the surface of the pudding but you could also just put it in a large Tupperware container and then in the fridge.

Remove from the fridge for about 20 minutes before serving. I like to decorate with a dusting of icing sugar (don’t do this in advance though as the sugar just melts into the surface). You can also drizzle melted dark chocolate over the top if you want to be really fancy.

I like this dessert just for itself but if you want to work the presentation then a dollop of crème fraiche with some lime zest grated over the top works well.

Ode to the digestive – part 2, banoffee pie

banoffee pie

As with Marmite people seem to love or hate banoffe pie. I adore it, but it’s my husband’s absolute worst nightmare. For this reason (and because it is so calorific) I only ever make it when we have a really big gathering with lots of other desserts. As we haven’t had people over for a while this is why there’s no picture to show you of one I’ve made recently. At parties it’s always the first to go leaving me disappointed that there are no left overs to enjoy as a hung-over breakfast the morning after.

Because you can now buy the condensed milk ready caramelised there’s really not much to this dessert. Gone are the days of boiling the tins in water for several hours on the hob. When I was a student I had a terrible accident making banoffee pie – the pan boiled dry and I ended up with exploded caramel covering the whole kitchen. By the time I’d finished scrubbing molten sugar off the walls, ceiling and floor the kitchen had never looked so clean and our slum landlord was delighted.

This is a useful recipe to have to hand but I do feel like a bit of a fraud because it’s virtually identical to the one on the side of the Carnation condensed milk tin.

Easy-peasy banoffe pie

Base

  • 200g digestive biscuits crushed with a rolling pin or in a food processor. (I think it is fine to use cheap own brand digestive biscuits for bases)
  • 100g butter

Filing

  • 1 x 397g tins of caramel condensed milk (sometimes also known as dulce du leche). This results in quite a thin layer of caramel. If you like it thicker you can use two tins
  • 4 small bananas (or enough to cover your base when sliced thinly)
  • A small 300ml carton of whipping cream
  • Grated milk chocolate to decorate

For the biscuit base melt the butter in a saucepan and then add the crushed digestives. Stir to combine and then tip into a loose bottomed flan tin with a diameter of 23 cm. Press the biscuit mixture across the the bottom of the tin and up the sides. This is a bit fiddly and it is quite tricky to get it even. I find using my fingers or the back of a spoon quite helpful. Leave to chill in the fridge.

Slice the banana thinly (about 2mm) and arrange it neatly over the biscuit base.

Pour the tin of caramel over the banana and spread evenly using a palette knife. Do not be tempted to beat the caramel to make it easier to spread and this will change the consistency completely and make it too runny.

Chill in the fridge. When you are ready to serve whip the cream and spread over the top. Decorate with grated chocolate.

Ode to the digestive – part 1, silly toppings

Digestive

I love digestive biscuits. Admittedly they are a bit boring by themselves but they are so versatile and great topped with sweet or savoury food stuffs or as the biscuit base for all sorts of puddings. When I rooted through my recipe folder I found quite a few digestive based desserts and so these very silly recipes begin my 5 days of 5 ways with digestives.

Digestives with melted marshmallow

I’m not sure where on earth this idea came from but I used to do this as a child and now my own children just love it. It is pretty exciting watching the marshmallow blow up like a balloon and the end result is a sweet and sticky delight.

  • a digestive biscuit
  • a standard marshmallow (pink or white)

Place a single marshmallow on a digestive biscuit.

Place in the microwave for 10-20 seconds and watch it blow up like a balloon. When it is about the same size as the digestive (circumference-wise) stop the cooking. When you take it out it will deflate into a lovely melted gooey mess over the digestive.

Leave to cool for a minute before eating.

Marshmallow on a digestive

Ready for action.

marshmallow on a digestive blown up

Blown up.

melted marshmallow

Yummy.

Cheat’s cheesecakes

This is for when you really can’t be bothered to make a proper dessert but you need something sweet to end your day.

It honestly does taste just like the real thing once it’s all mushed up in your mouth but you obviously couldn’t serve it a dinner party – unless you were trying to be funny.

Cheat’s lemon cheesecake
Take a digestive biscuit and smear with cream cheese. Then dollop a spoonful of lemon curd on top.

Cheat’s raspberry cheesecake
As above but with a dollop of raspberry jam.

Cheat’s chocolate cheesecake
As above but with a dollop of chocolate spread.