Once upon a time, probably around 18 years ago, I remember picking up a recipe card in a supermarket after seeing the recipe advertised on TV. This was a cutting edge piece of marketing in the early nineties, before we all had inter-lives and tweet-nests and books full of faces through which companies could court our affections. Not sure if this marks me out as an early adopter or a sheep, but it worked.
What now looks like an essentially simple dish felt like quite a complex ‘occasion’ piece at the time, but that’s probably due to my relative culinary inexperience, the use of the then uncommon ‘Mascarpone’ [daring!], and the flim-flamerous decoration required by the original recipe. The smiley people in the TV advert easily made chocolate leaves and sugared their grapes for the topping, but it was always a bit more of a palaver in my kitchen.
Nonetheless I persevered with, and indeed added to, the chocolate leaf display business for quite some time. And there was always some chocolate left over, which I decided to add to the cheese and lime mixture, and so this version was born. I’ve since decided it’s easier to simply drizzle some molten chocolate over the top than to put myself through the whole leaf making anxiety, but by all means go there if the fancy takes you.
For a lighter, fresher version don’t add chocolate to the cheese mix, just grate a little solid chocolate over the top of the finished dish. But do add chocolate – the beauty here lies in the marriage of the freshness of lime with the richness of deeply dark chocolate.
This recently fed six of us, but could easily have stretched to eight, or even more…
- 100g lemon shortbread biscuits
- 100g dark chocolate digestive biscuits
- 80g butter, melted
- 500g Mascarpone
- 2 limes, zest and juice
- 50g icing sugar
- 75g good dark chocolate [at least 70% cocoa solids]
Whizz the biscuits to a fine crumb in a food processor and combine with melted butter. Mix well, and press evenly into the bottom of a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge until set.
Melt the chocolate in a bain marie then allow it to cool a little whilst ensuring it remains mobile. If the chocolate is too hot when added to the cheese mixture the whole thing may become a little granular.
Zest the limes, and add their juice and the sugar. Stir well to dissolve the sugar, and then fold in the Mascarpone. Pour in two-thirds of the melted chocolate and gently, but thoroughly, combine. Spread this mixture evenly over the chilled biscuit base and smooth the top surface with a spatula or, if necessary, the back of a warmed spoon [dip into hot water and dry before using].
Place the tin on a large sheet of newspaper and drizzle over the remaining chocolate in a pattern of your choosing. Cover and chill well until twenty minutes before needed, then gently release from the tin and transfer to a suitably pretty plate.
And if your guests don’t ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at the table – invite different people to your next party.