Monte Carlo

October 1, 2010 at 21:56 | Posted in biscuits | 2 Comments
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Monte Carlo. A name imbued with decadence and romance; casinos and royalty, James Bond and Formula One. Just how have Arnott’s distilled this heady mix into biscuit form?

The Monte Carlo is a ‘jam and cream’ biscuit, and is a remarkable feat of biscuit engineering. On first inspection it seems like it has some sort of pink cream filling. However, you soon discover that actually that is a layer of sticky jam wrapped around a regular cream interior. I have no idea how they achieve this; I sort of imagine them making round balls of jam-coated cream, and then squashing them between two biscuits. The jam is really sticky; it gets into your teeth and adds a kind of chewiness to the thing which is somewhat unexpected.

I actually think this is a companion biscuit to the Iced Vovo. The Iced Vovo is a kind of throwback to British high tea, and this is the same. It’s an attempt to distil a jam-and-cream Victoria sponge cake* into biscuit form. I guess the ‘Monte Carlo’ thing is to give it a kind of continental sophistication – like taking English tea in the Hôtel de Paris. Like the Iced Vovo, its all rather fussy and overdone; this is a blowsy biscuit that is really trying too hard. It features some up-market ingredients – but only in trace quantities. The jam, for example, does contain raspberries – but is mainly apple, with raspberry not featuring until after such additives as food acid. The biscuit part contains honey, but way down the list along with raising agents and the like.

In terms of re-creating the experience of eating a Victoria sandwich cake, however, Arnotts have excelled themselves. Victoria sandwiches are rather heavy, sickly affairs that make you feel a bit ill if you eat too much. The Monte Carlo re-creates this perfectly; there are twelve in a packet (a refreshingly even number), but your correspondent had to admit defeat after just seven – and the last one was really ill-advised and brought back memories of eating too much cake at parties.

I’m going to give this a four out of ten. Clever engineering, but not a great biscuit.

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*For those interested, here is the recipe for a Victoria sandwich. Note it is important to only use British Imperial measurements; if you use metric equivalents or any kind of electric beaters the cake will not work properly.

Cake ingredients
8oz butter or margarine, softened
8oz caster sugar
4 eggs
8oz self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder

For the filling and topping
4 tbsp strawberry or raspberry jam
5oz butter, softened
10oz icing sugar
1-2 tbsp milk

Method
Grease two 8 inch cake tins and line the bases with baking paper. Set the oven to 350F.

Tip the cake ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, flour, and baking powder) into a large bowl and beat vigorously for about two minutes with a wooden spoon.

Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and level the surface with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 25 minutes, until risen and golden in colour. The cakes should be springy when lightly pressed. Leave the cakes in the tins for a few minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the tins and turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool.

To make the filling, beat the butter for the filling in a large bowl until soft. Add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar and one tablespoon of the milk and beat the mixture until creamy and smooth. Beat in the milk, if necessary, to loosen the mixture.

Spread one of the cakes with the jam, then a thick layer of the buttercream filling, and then put the other cake on top (top upwards) and sprinkle with icing sugar. Serve on a doily.

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2 Comments »

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  1. I have to disagree with you here – the monte carlo is one of Arnott’s best products, beaten only by the Peppermint Cream and possibly the Scotch Finger. The sweet, crumbly biscuit, creamy filling and chewy coating (which I never realised was supposed to be jam) come together in a very complimentary and satisfying way. I think it’s a matter of expectations – if you pick up one of these expecting a recreation of a high tea of course you’re going to be disappointed, but measured strictly against other (mock) cream filled biscuits the Monte Carlo is definitely the king. The size, excellent crumbly biscuit base and chewy jammy twist all combine to place it ahead of its peers.

    • Hmmm. Each to his own, I suppose. But I’ll give you the size thing. This is one large biscuit!


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