Childhood nostalgia is pretty hard to beat. Who doesn’t love the thrill of rediscovering something which instantly transports you back to a simpler time, when your happiness was defined by such simple pleasures as your favourite biscuit. Or is it a cake? The Brits amongst us will be full of nostalgia for the subject of today’s post and I’m absolutely sure you will all be joining me in a chorus of “Full moon… Half moon… Total eclipse!” as you treat yourself to not one, but three homemade jaffa cakes.
There is something a little bit special about this recipe for me personally too. It was one of my own recipes which thrilled Hungry Hubby and was often made to take to university to share with my course mates during a lengthy tutorial where the only way to make it through was the promise of some naughty little snack if we buckled down and got the work done. Originally, these jaffa cakes started off life as one large cake but one day, I tried making individual ones and was thrilled with the results. I took photos of the process, added captions of how I did it and uploaded it to my personal Facebook account. My friends were delighted! It was the birth of my “blogging” life really and I remember one friend in particular telling me how much she enjoyed the album and thought I should start a blog of my own. And the rest is history.
These are so like the real McVities Jaffa Cakes it is a little unsettling. I was shocked the first time I made these they they required so little tweaking. All they are is a simple sponge mix which you make by the all-in-one method, topped with freshly squeezed orange jelly and coated in melted chocolate. Time consuming yes, difficult no. The biggest tweak was working out how much batter and how long to bake for. As for how to get the right shape – get yourself down to TK Maxx or onto Amazon and order yourself a whoopie pie tin. They are perfect to be the sponge bases in as they come out perfectly round and without the awkward angles a muffin or fairy cake pan would give. I wouldn’t recommend free styling it dropping onto a baking tray as the batter will run too much but these tins are quite cheap and easy to source now (I suspect because us Brits don’t *get* whoopie pies – they look like a sandwich cookie but eat like a cake and we just don’t get it). I will be so bold as to say I believe my recipe just beats McVities as the jelly layer is bright and fresh and pops of fruit as you bite into the cake. If you want that true to life, artificial orange taste you’d be better reconstituting a block of Rowntree’s jelly or similar. It’s taking liberties with a classic but if you try my version, I’m quite sure you’ll be converted too! Hungry Hubby tells me he doesn’t like dark chocolate (I don’t believe him – he eats more than he realises with my baking ;)) so I add a little milk chocolate to the coating but you don’t have to concede to such madness…
- 150ml freshly squeezed orange juice
- 30g caster sugar
- 3 small sheets of leaf gelatine* (mine are approx 2x4 inches)
- 70g very soft butter
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g self-raising flour
- 2 small eggs
- 2 tbsp milk (room temp)
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 100g dark chocolate chips
- 30g milk chocolate chips
- A shallow dish to set the jelly in
- A whoopie pie tin (12 wells to a tin)
- A 2-3cm round cookie cutter
- Oil to grease with (sunflower or rapeseed in a spray are the best as they are flavourless and give a nice thin, even coating)
- Make the jelly first to allow as long as possible for it to set – ideally overnight in the fridge.
- Soak the gelatine sheets in a bowl of cold water. Heat the orange juice and sugar until it just comes to the boil then take off the heat, pick up the gelatine and squeeze it gently before dropping into the hot juice. Stir to dissolve.
- Pour into a greased dish small enough to give you about 3-4mm jelly. I use rapeseed oil as it has little flavour to it to grease my dish. Cover and refrigerate until set.
- Make the sponges. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease the whoopie pie tin lightly.
- Put all the sponge ingredients into a bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon until well mixed – don’t over beat and if in doubt, zap the butter in the microwave to soften as it won’t mix well unless it is very soft.
- Scoop 1½ tbsp batter onto each well of the prepared whoopie pie tin and bake the first 12 sponges for 8 minutes. Do not over bake – they will brown more around the edges than the middle and you want them still to be moist, not over-baked and dry.
- Cool on a rack and clean the tin up before you make the remaining 6-8 sponges in the same way as step 6.
- When cool, turn upside down and cut out discs of jelly and place one on each sponge.
- Melt your chocolates together (I am lazy these days and do 20-30 second zaps in the microwave, stirring well each time until just melted). Leave to stand for a few minutes as the hot chocolate could melt the jelly if it’s used straight away. You can use all dark chocolate if you prefer.
- Using a teaspoon, pour on a little melted chocolate directly onto the jelly and swirl it gently with the point of the spoon to cover all the jelly and the exposed 2-3mm rim of sponge all the way around. Once you’ve done all 18, you can patch up any exposed jelly if you were too impatient to let the choccie cool first time around! I don’t blame you… Eat once the chocolate has fully cooled and set.
- Vegetarians may wish to use 2/3 tsp agar instead of the gelatine - just whisk it not the hot juice and continue as per the recipe.