Tastier Than The Sum Of Its Parts? When Aussie Baking Icons Collide...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Coco Chanel would not approve of these biscuits. Not one little bit. They fly in the face of her minimalist elegance and advice to always take one thing off before you leave the house. They are too, too much and proud of it. They are Versace, Pucci and Lacroix rolled into one. They combine a Tim Tam with a lamington, for heaven’s sake!

Can you combine two chocolaty legends of the Australian kitchen and scale new culinary heights? Should you even try – such matters are surely not to be trifled with lightly. Tinkering with a Tim Tam is a risk many have taken (well, that Arnotts has taken numerous times) and that rarely succeeds. Attempts to improve on perfection*, while possibly good for sales, can upset a delicate balance. Dark chocolate is one thing (and a very good thing indeed), but strawberry? A raised eyebrow and dismissive shrug don’t begin to cover it.

But I thought they might look pretty, and after the tasty-but-aesthetically-challenged lamington brownies, that was appealing. Although it was the fun of experimenting with so much excess (in the name of national holidays, of course) that was the real motivation, as part of Delicious Delicious Delicious's 2011 lamington reinvention. So, in the spirit of noble failure, I set off to make… The TimTamington.

Challenge #1 – Can we build it? (Yes, we can!)
So many tough decisions... regular Tim Tams or giant ones? Flavoured ones or the original recipe? Sandwiched with jam and cream, or with jam alone? Topped with ganache – no question – but how to make the ganache stand out amidst all that chocolate? What to do about the coconut, which just might seem like a passing afterthought?

I decided the key things about a Tim Tam (especially as distinct to a square of sponge cake) was its glossy crunchy chocolatyness, and that any attempts to turn it into something else should try to preserve these features.

Introducing the TimTamington...

6 Tim Tams (the original flavour and size)
3 tbsp jam (I used the strawberry and blueberry jam I’d made for the more legitimate lamington reinvention)
50 g white chocolate
25 g cream
2 tbsp chocolate hail

1. Heat the cream until it just boils, then remove from the heat and pour over the white chocolate, stirring madly until it melts and combines into a smooth, shiny mixture. Set aside to cool – if making in summer, sticking it in the freezer for half an hour is a good idea. (I actually made twice this amount, as I was wary of scaling the quantities down too much and having the ganache misbehave… that was my excuse, anyway!).
2. Poke several small holes part-way into one Tim Tam with a thin skewer or similar implement**. Spread the Tim Tam with a tablespoon of jam (thick jam works best – if using a runnier jam, drain off some of the syrup).
3. Spread the white chocolate ganache on the un-jammy Tim Tam and sprinkle immediately with chocolate hail (before the ganache has a chance to set).
4. Carefully place the ganached Tim Tam on the jammy Tim Tam and bask in the glow of your creation!

Even making something this simple seems to use an awful lot of stuff...

Challenge #2 – The tasting
They did indeed look prettier than the lamington brownies, but were just no match in terms of taste… the Other Penguin declared that there was just too much going on, and that really said it all. In the brownies, the jammy middles (especially with ricotta), blended just enough with the surrounding mixture to merge gently from one flavour and texture to another, and the ganache added a darkly indulgent stickiness it might otherwise have, if not lacked, then had a little less of.

In the TimTamingtons, the biscuit remains a separate element, and the jam huddles in between looking charming but uncomfortable. The traditional milk chocolate Tim Tam is sugary enough that more isn’t better (hence why the Tim Tam slurp / slam*** is so effective – it tones this down and changes the texture).

The ganache topping fares more successfully in merging with the Tim Tam, but is rather more-of-the-same, rather than introducing something new.

How many layers does it take to make a TimTamington? Lots!

So if I accepted that tinkering with a Tim Tam is tricky, and wanted to do something a bit different with them again, I’d try these two options:
- Keeping them one layer (two is definitely too much of a good thing!), and icing them with a coloured, or maybe flavoured, ganache. Coffee or raspberry spring to mind as options.
- Using them as the pre-bought biscuit / cake element in another dish, so that by changing their texture they can integrate better with other ingredients.

* And by perfection, I mean the best possible mass-produced chocolate biscuit – where sugary and sticky things are concerned, there are numerous categories and manifestations of perfection. While I love a Tim Tam, I’d cheerfully given them up forever for a lifetime supply of Pierre Herme salted caramel macarons!
** I’d thought this might enable
*** One of the (many) good things about a Tim Tam is the squishy wonderment that comes from slurping your hot beverage of choice through one, after nibbling off opposite corners, then gobbling the chocolaty remains before they collapse into the cup.

Brilynn on January 25, 2011 at 2:54 AM

I LOVE this! Now you just need to take that and do a Timtamslamington... Just a thought...

Sonia on January 25, 2011 at 9:24 AM

Wow...this seems to be an amazing dish. Really liked your challenges and coming out with flying colors...great job !

Sonia on January 25, 2011 at 9:31 AM

loved your dish and all the recipes...great great great job !

Mr. P on January 28, 2011 at 2:15 AM


OMG. I love them.

Ronnie –  on January 30, 2011 at 9:02 PM

I loved all of these as well won't be trying any though, the dreaded treadmill if beckoning!!!!

Mary at n00bcakes on February 3, 2011 at 1:36 AM

This is fantastic! I've always wanted to try out TimTams, and I think now you've convinced me to actively seek these out. Wonderful 3xD entry! XD

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