Mum’s biscuit cake with coffee & chocolate

Mum’s biscuit cake with coffee & chocolate

Biscuit cake with coffee & chocolate with Gourmesso coffee pods

I’ve been wanting to make my mother’s biscuit cake for ever. This is a recipe passed on by her own mother, potentially going back even further to my great grandmother that happened to be Hungarian.

You see, I recently learned that Croatian heritage has only been in our family for a couple of generations – my parents and their parents. Prior to that it was Hungary, or when part of Yugoslavia was occupied and later annexed by Hungary. Prior to that, who knows?

Biscuit cake with coffee & chocolate recipe

It’s quite possible that my grandmother was influenced by Hungary’s own dobos torte, a cake comprised of very thin layers of sponge, chocolate buttercream and caramel.

And then there’s the espresso. Was she creating her own version of tiramisu?

Making biscuit cake with coffee & chocolate with Gourmesso coffee pods

Regardless of where its influences lay, the recipe has been in my mothers hands since she was 16 or 17  – and I had my fair share of it during my childhood.

Time to share the love.

Biscuit cake with coffee & chocolate recipe

Tea biscuits, or arrowroot-style biscuits are the key here; and they need to be rectangular in shape. And those of you in North America, these aren’t the bready scone-like biscuits you’re familiar with.

They may be crunchy to begin with, but once the biscuits are dunked into espresso and piled 7 layers high with the filling, they soften beautifully – yet keep their shape. This was my chance to borrow a Nespresso machine and use the stash of Gourmesso coffee capsules I was given to do this recipe.

Biscuit cake with coffee & chocolate recipe

As for that filling, it’s a cross between buttercream and a firm custard – thanks to the eggs that are cooked through it. The cake can sit at room temperature for a little while, but it does soften significantly as the cream warms.

Mum says it’s best if you let the cake sit in the fridge for a few days before serving it. Whilst I can’t dispute that, it still is pretty damn delicious after you’ve let it refrigerate overnight!

Biscuit cake with coffee & chocolate recipe


Print Recipe
Mum's biscuit cake with coffee & chocolate
Layers of biscuits soaked in espresso with rich chocolate cream. This is my Mum's biscuit cake.
Biscuit cake with coffee & chocolate
Course Dessert
Cuisine Croatian
Course Dessert
Cuisine Croatian
Biscuit cake with coffee & chocolate
  1. Crack the eggs into a heat resistant bowl, then add the 200 g sugar, vanilla sugar or vanilla extract and dark chocolate. Stir well with a wooden spoon.
  2. Put the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, or use a double boiler. Stir the egg mixture continuously over the steam for 10 minutes, trying not to stop as it may scramble.
  3. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  4. Meanwhile, beat the butter and 50 g caster sugar for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Whisk in the cooled chocolate mixture until combined, then refrigerate until cooled completely.
To assemble
  1. Dip 6 of the biscuits into the espresso and arrange them in a 3 x 2 rectangle on a serving board or plate. Only dip the biscuits for a second as you don't want them soggy.
  2. Evenly spread some of the chocolate filling over the dipped biscuits. The filling should be a little less than 5 mm thick.
  3. Dip 6 more biscuits into the espresso and lay them over the first layer, then keep repeating the process until all of the biscuits are used up. This will give you 7 layers of biscuits.
  4. When the cake is assembled, spread the filling over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate for a few hours, or until the topping is firm again. Gently cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of days, or at least overnight, before slicing and serving.
Recipe Notes
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  • KevinIsCooking

    Thanks for sharing the love John, this is my kinda chocolate cake. These lovely stacked layers with espresso and chocolate – serve me up! Any substitutions ideas for us in North America on the tea biscuits? I love how you frosted the edges of the cake, too. Just beautiful.

    • Kevin, I think Lu cookies has a Social Tea or similar cookie that works. Von’s may carry them. I’ll look when I’m there next and report back. My grandmother used to have them on hand all the time. They are a rectangular crisp cookie with a small scalloped edge.

      • Thanks Marlene, I searched online & came up empty handed

      • KevinIsCooking

        I’ll try Vons myself, thanks so much!

      • Amazon has Social Tea Biscuits. And a kosher food company called Kedem makes a similar cookie as well, so check that section. At World Market I found a rectangular cookie that wa the right size called Petit Ecole, I think. It had chocolate on one side, however.

        • I know exactly what you’re talking about, Marlene. My mind when to precisely the same place when I read this post. They’re called Petit Écolier. You commonly find them in upscale groceries, in the cookie aisle. I buy them frequently. They have a layer of chocolate on top that probably isn’t right for this recipe. But they make a version without the chocolate, and call it Petit Beurre. They’re not easy to find in real life, but I do see them on Amazon. (If you could think of a clever way to separate the chocolate from the biscuit, the dark-chocolate version of Petit Écolier would be perfect.)

  • What a gorgeous looking cake John, it’s giving me major TWIX vibes. Beautiful photos!!

  • Josie Spicer

    Thank you so much for sharing this, John. I am so eager to try this recipe, especially since it’s been around for so long and you find it to be so special. It’ll be tough keeping it in the fridge for so long without touching it though!

    • A pleasure, Josie. Just so you know, this cake survived for a maximum of 4 days, so the last bits were slightly better than when I tasted it the day after I made it. Not by much, but there was a difference.

  • Oh wow what a great recipe. And how perfect are those lines John. It’s a kind of Croatian Tira Misu. Lovely

  • AmandaChewTown

    Absolutely delicious sounding cake with the coffee and chocolate – I would take a giant slice of that right now.

  • I do love a good biscuit cake! I’m impressed it lasted four days 😉

  • John – I would take your mothers biscuit cake over a dobos torte any day!

    • I haven’t tried dobos torta yet and was tempted to make it a few weeks ago. Mum’s cake won out.

  • Lisa Fitzgibbons

    this might defeat the point of the biscuit cake, but is the coffee absolutely necessary for the recipe? if it is, could you substitute something for it?

    • It does defeat the point a little, Lisa, but I would definitely try a fruity liquer like cherry or peach inplace of the coffee. Can’t really think what else could work.

  • Pingback: 10 Recipes for Chocoholics - The Devon Foodie()

  • That’s great to hear, Kat! So glad everyone like it.

  • Try diluting some cocoa powder in water. That should work.

  • How delicious! This coffee cake literally has my mouth watering! YUMMY! thanks for sharing great cake recipe.

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