Most of you who are a) related to me b) whom I call “friend” c) have read this blog casually since the beginning of time, may or may not know that I have two sisters and the younger one of them works as a pastry chef at a restaurant somewhere in posh London. Although, she’s far from posh (we are a basic people), she makes deceptive pastries and desserts as part of her job. She meringues and quenelles and other French things dessert-eaters give way too much importance to when seeking “the best”. No, I will not stop. She knows it too. #hotjalebi4life
Most of you a, b, c people also have no clue that one of the first desserts Gayle ever made – at an age when she still watched Pingu – was a Marie biscuit cake. My mother had bought her a children’s cookbook from Mapusa as a dare. Gayle said my mother didn’t want her to have the book soooo she bought it? They still play this reverse psychology game, btw. The cake was one of the highlights of many a tea time and since Gayle was the youngest, Jane could trick her into making it all the time. (Another game they still play. It’s like we’re in a time warp.)
The cake was simple. You quick-soaked the biscuits in a cocoa powder + milk mixture, place them in a single layer flower shape and then ice/frost them with a basic buttercream whipped with more cocoa powder, layering more biscuits on top as you go. The cake always ended with a heavy hand of sprinkles after it came out of the fridge a few hours later It was the best. At that age, we we living the life. I always ate more than one slices of that cake and ever since I started this blog, it has been a wish of mine to one day recreate. That day is today. Well, that day was actually a week ago but for the sake of the climax let’s just go with “today”.
When I went into the web of the wide world, I noticed that this cake creation was already world famous. Here in America, they call it the icebox cake. I assume it’s because all of the “baking” is done in the “ice box” (refrigerator). You can use any biscuit/cookie/wafer you like to make a cake like this. As for the “icing”, you can be as creative or basic in that department too. I knew from the start that I wanted to make it with fruit so strawberries it was! I simplified the original recipe by removing the soaking step a little and threw in a different icing. Once my teeth hit the Marie biscuits, it was exactly like I remembered it.
Strawberry Marie biscuit cake
Marie biscuits is a type of tea biscuit sold in India. In the US, you will find it in the Hispanic foods section of your big box store under the name Maria biscuits. In a SE Asian/Indian store they should be sold as “Marie” biscuits. There’s a Goya (Hispanic) and Britannia (SE Asian) brand. You will need just 1 (200 gms/ 7 oz) packet for this recipe and you will definitely have leftover biscuits. They are excellent eaten along with tea or coffee. This cake is better made a day ahead as the biscuits will benefit many times over as they soften from sitting in the cream. It softens and gets to more of a cakey texture. I ate it for a week straight and it tasted just as good every single day.
Adapted from Gayle and The New York Times
- 455 gms/ 1 lb strawberries (about 14 large or 20 small berries)
- 226 gms (8 oz) mascarpone
- 28 gms (1/4 cup) confectioner’s/powdered sugar (more or less, depending on the sweetness or sourness of the berries)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 30 Marie biscuits
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- Strawberry Pocky, sprinkles and other assorted candy, for topping (optional)
Divide the strawberries into two sets of 7 berries each. Put aside one set in a bowl. These will be used to top the cake with later. Hull the remaining strawberries. These will be used for icing the cake.
Place the hulled strawberries into a blender or food processor and puree them till smooth.
Pour the puree, mascarpone, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla into a large whisking bowl. Using an electric hand mixer, whisk the ingredients until combined. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if necessary. Whip the mascarpone to medium-stiff peaks. This means that when you lift the whisks up from the cream, the peaks formed should hold their mountain-y shape but the tips should curl back down.
On a serving dish, lay 2 rows of 3 Marie biscuits in a rectangular shape (total of 6). One at a time, take each biscuit and spread a little of the cream mixture on top as if you were buttering toast. Put them back into their rows and then fill in the gaps between them with dots of cream. Top them with 6 more biscuits and spread another layer of cream as evenly as possible. Repeat the process until you have 5 layers of biscuits and cream. Cover the top and the sides of the cake with whatever cream remains. Cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap and chill for 8 hours or overnight.
Hull and quarter (if they are large) or halve the remaining berries and toss them in a bowl with 1 tbsp granulated sugar. Let them sit for 30 minutes to however long it takes until they get nice and juicy (I let them sit overnight because I love the jammy juice!). Right before serving, spoon the jammy strawberries on top of the cake and serve with Pocky and sprinkles!