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updated: 6/1/2011 7:58 AM

Biscuit bars fit for a prince

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By now we all know the dashing Prince William across the pond fancies chocolate desserts. To this fan of all things chocolate, his choice of a chocolate biscuit groom's cake seemed bold, inspiring and quite brilliant.

Before recent wedding coverage I knew very little about this distinctively English dessert. The official recipe was locked up by royal guard, but I found a number of chocolate biscuit cake recipes at various food websites.

This regal dessert piqued my interest because of its resemblance to one of my favorite chocolate forms: ganache. My first impulse was to run into the kitchen and recreate the recipe.

Its short ingredient list and easy preparation had to be too good to be true; impostor recipes, even ones rumored to be a close match to the "secret recipe" seldom reveal all the ingredients vital to the original formula.

More important, the faux recipe always leaves out a key step in the preparation from the original. It may be something simple or unassuming. But that omission holds the real secret to success and regardless of our efforts, our creations will never match our expectations.

So instead of trying to make a pale imitation, bakers should focus upon the strengths of the original recipe to inspire a new dessert. I set out to create a dessert that stayed true to some aspects of the cake, yet was different enough to avert any negative comparisons.

One version of the chocolate biscuit recipe caught my attention by using chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream. Working with that as my base I rounded out the ingredient list with McVitie's Classic Rich Tea biscuits and a touch of butter. Visions of a casual bar dessert, not a formal cake, came to mind.

Before heading to the kitchen I needed to settle one issue. Could another tea biscuit sub for the McVitie's biscuits? These lightly sweet and crispy treats are the English version of a cookie, but the only place I could find them was World Market.

I did find a nice selection of European tea biscuits at local international stores but after side-by-side taste tests, the English biscuits beat its competitors. McVitie's original digestive biscuits surprised me with a tender and somewhat flaky texture. I liked the deep brown hue and nicely developed flavor.

Now getting back to that impostor recipe … it called only for dark chocolate chips (no milk chocolate in sight), a bold move since few cake or dessert bar recipes rely solely on savory dark to deliver cocoa flavor. The low sugar McVitie's and dark chocolate together created a dessert without enough sweetness even for my taste buds.

Not wanting to give up on the chocolate chip concept, I swapped milk chocolate chips for the bittersweet variety in the bar cookie base, a change that boosted the sugar notes and complemented the rich taste of the toasted tea biscuits. The milk chocolate ganache coats crushed tea biscuits, allowing the bars to hold their shape. Moisture from the ganache along with refrigeration gently softens the biscuits; if you want crisper texture, serve after chilling only 3 hours.

Dark chocolate comes back and finishes the dessert in a velvety ganache swirled on top of the biscuity base.

A royal treat, indeed.

• Annie Overboe, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, lives in Villa Park. Write her at