Tiffin! The sweet of many names. And indeed more than one incarnation.
Tiffin is known in South India as a between-meals snack or light lunch. Much like the Japanese have Bento Boxes for their immaculately compartmentalised lunches, the Indians have Tiffin-Boxes. Tiffin over here in the UK is simply refrigerator cake or chocolate biscuit cake.
For many, along with Flapjacks or Rice Krispie cakes, it will have marked the start of infantile cooking, pour and stir recipes offering children a quick and satisfying treat.
Tiffin is melted (vegan) butter and golden syrup, mixed with molten chocolate that is then bolstered generously with crushed Rich Tea or Digestive biscuits, raisins, hazelnuts and coconut or perhaps glace cherries. The options are endless. And, if you use a decent dark chocolate, Tiffin makes a rich, decadent treat for grown ups too.
I am choosing to keep some pieces of Tiffin in our biscuit tin because I know exactly what has gone in them and I feel that we have greater control over our intake of sugar and fat this way. Besides, both are so rich that you only require a small square to feel that your sweet tooth can take that well-earned break from bugging you.
Both of these recipes come from one of my favourite cookbooks at the moment, Sue Lawrence’s Book of Baking. All of the recipes are simple enough for the non-baker or young person taking tentative steps towards cooking. She writes in a straight-forward, non-flowery manner as you would expect of a Scotswoman and everything looks delicious, comforting and homely. Highly recommended. Also, the recipes are easily veganised because the ingredients are so simply.
TIFFIN or CHOCOLATE BISCUIT CAKE adapted from Book of Baking by Sue Lawrence
175g Vegan Butter or Spread (I used Pure, as usual)
1.5 Tbsp. Golden Syrup or Dark Agave Syrup for a lower GI
200g best quality Vegan Dark Chocolate (fortunately, most, if not all, true dark chocolate is vegan)
180g Vegan Rich Tea or Digestives or a combination, crushed roughly in a freezer bag (they usually come in this weight package)
85g Raisins, Dried Cranberries or Cherries or a combination
85g Roasted and Coarsely Chopped Hazelnuts, Macadamias, Almonds, Pistachios or nuts of your choice
Gently melt the vegan butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a large saucepan until melted and glossy. Don't use a small pan like what I did, or this happens.
Stir in the crushed biscuit pieces, the raisins and the hazelnuts.
Turn out into a lightly greased cake tin, 9” square.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, before cutting into squares and gorging.
OPTIONAL: You can halve the raisins and add 85g of coconut as per the original recipe, or replace the raisins with glace cherries or any dried fruit you love. Play around with whatever nuts, dried fruit and biscuits or cookies you have lying around.