If you are a certain type of person – me, essentially – you will be unable to hear the phrase “biscuit base” without it immediately conjuring the sound of Gregg Wallace bellowing it over and over again against a wall of hardcore techno. If that has just happened to you, I can only apologise, but I promise these recipes will make it worth it. Puddings that require any amount of smashed-up biscuits are almost always the best sort of puddings, and here are 10 glorious examples.
It would be easy just to list 10 brilliant cheesecake recipes – a dessert renowned for its buttery biscuit base – but I’ll keep them to a minimum by only including the best. And the very best is Liam Charles’s recipe for eggnog creme brulee cheesecake. Ostensibly a Christmas dish, this is rich and boozy and wobbly and – best of all – you have to shatter the top with the back of a spoon. Perfect indulgence.
One more cheesecake recipe, because I know I’m going to get letters from the set-cheesecake crowd, complaining about undue editorial preference for baked cheesecake. So here’s Yotam Ottolenghi’s honey and yoghurt cheesecake. Not only is it surprisingly sharp and clean for a cheesecake, but the base calls for Hobnobs.
Fortunately, away from cheesecakes, there’s a wealth of desserts that benefit from the addition of biscuits. For example, banoffee pie. Eight years ago, Felicity Cloake perfected the pud, so it’s only right to use her recipe. The base is a mixture of biscuits and pecans and, although she recommends adding coffee to the cream topping – controversial, in banoffee circles – this is otherwise as straight down the line as you would expect.
While we’re talking caramel, let’s meander over to banoffee’s portable cousin: millionaire’s shortbread. This sweet treat is a classic of the form, even if in recent years it has succumbed to the evils of hyperinflation (Gü Zillionaire Cheesecakes, I’m looking at you). Doves Farm’s digestive biscuit, caramel and chocolate squares make things a little easier because you have to crush biscuits rather than make your own, but they are still delightful.
I have a feeling that this might prove to be controversial. The purists will tell you that a lemon meringue pie must be made with a pastry case, but what do those philistines know? Sorted Food is aware that a lemon meringue pie is, ultimately, an orgy of faffery and has therefore simplified its recipe with – you guessed it – a buttery biscuit base. Don’t listen to the pastry lobby; this is just as good.
To deviate from the classics slightly, Tamal Ray has an incredibly good recipe for a no-bake spiced orange tart. Like the creme brulee cheesecake, this is technically a Christmas recipe, but it is such a powerful burst of flavour – such a cleanly refreshing treat, humming with the low-level buzz of star anise – that I would vouch for it all year round. It is truly sublime.
Rosheen Kaul’s plum and brown butter jelly slice is a recent addition to the Guardian’s recipe archives but I’d be a fool to leave it out. Biscuit base, condensed milk and a slice of jelly on the top. It takes a while to get each element together, but is worth your time. It’s like a birthday party you can hold in your hand.
So far, you’ll notice that all these recipes use biscuit on the bottom. Let’s rectify that with Tom Hunt’s refrigerator cake. You know how these work: melt some chocolate, add some honey, chuck in broken biscuits and nuts or dried fruit or bits of cereal or whatever, then chill. They are always successful and always make everyone happy. Bonus points if, like Hunt, you make it to use up stale biscuits.
Right. I’m going to do the unthinkable here and give you another cheesecake recipe. Bear with me – I’m not doing this out of lack of inspiration, but to counter the tyranny of the digestive. Ninety-five per cent of the time, a biscuit dessert will call for a digestive. But you know what’s better than a digestive? A custard cream. Of course it is! Custard creams are brilliant. So here is She Who Bakes’ recipe for custard cream cheesecake. The base tastes as if it is made from custard creams. The filling has custard in it, so it tastes a bit like custard creams. There are custard creams on the top. You are welcome.
Oh screw it, Jane’s Patisserie has a recipe for bourbon biscuit cheesecake that is much the same as the custard cream cheesecake, except it’s made with bourbons. And it has bourbons around the side. It’s amazing, obviously. I realise that this list is now 40% cheesecake, but I regret nothing. Not a single biscuit.