Prince William's Groom's Cake Was A Sweet Ode To Queen Elizabeth II

It's been more than a decade since Prince William and Kate Middleton exchanged vows at Westminster Abbey, but thanks to the internet, the details of the ceremony are as fresh as this morning's beans and mash. There was Kate's handcrafted lace gown, the traditional Welsh gold ring gifted from Queen Elizabeth II, and a balcony kiss at Buckingham Palace witnessed by a sea of flag-waving Brits. Most importantly, there was a royal chocolate biscuit cake, which Prince William chose as his groom's cake in honor of his grandmother. (It also happened to be his favorite childhood treat.)

"The Queen's been eating chocolate biscuit cake for years," Chef Darren McGrady said on his YouTube channel. McGrady cooked for various members of the royal family for 15 years. Once, after forgetting to send the Queen enough of the cake to last a weekend stay at Windsor Castle, the chef took a train to the secondary royal residence to hand-deliver it to Her Majesty. So, what makes this monarch-approved treat so special? 

No oven, no problem

While variations of the recipe abound, the chocolate biscuit cake favored by Elizabeth II is as simple as it gets. As such, it's also incredibly easy to make. Rather than crushing biscuits with a rolling pin or blitzing them in a food processor, à la graham cracker pie crust, Chef Darren McGrady would break them up by hand into small pieces to add texture to the soft cake.

The biscuit pieces are then coated in a mixture of sugar, butter, and melted chocolate and pressed into a cake pan, which is chilled, covered in more melted chocolate, and chilled again. That's right — there's no baking involved. McGrady suggests making the simple treat your own by adding chopped dates and apricots, M&Ms, or whatever else your sweet tooth craves. If you're making it as a tribute to the late Queen, serve it with a cup of loose-leaf tea with a little milk.

Rich tea biscuits are a must

As lenient as he is when it comes to add-ins, there's one ingredient that Chef Darren McGrady insists on for the best British chocolate biscuit cake: Rich tea biscuits. The sweet and light wheat biscuits are lighter in color and milder in flavor than a digestive biscuit and are less crumbly than a graham cracker, making them just right for the simple but sturdy cake. 

The biscuit, whose earliest incarnation was served to the first earl of Strafford, has been a teatime staple since the 17th century. It was initially served to wealthy people as a snack (perhaps that's where it gets its name?) but has since evolved into a people's food. 

"It's plain," is how British celebrity domestic cook Nigella Lawson described the omnipresent biscuit to The Washington Post. "It's the equivalent of the old-fashioned English nursery, where children were always made to eat a slice of bread before the slice of cake." She was referring specifically to McVitie's, which happens to be the brand used in Prince William's groom's cake.