What’s a girl to do when she can’t get the real thing? Improvise.

Biscuit Showdown: Jaffa Cakes vs. Pim's
I’ve heard from more than one source that expats and Britophiles who are sadly separated from Great Britain—and therefore from the delectable Jaffa Cake—can find a substitute in Pim’s biscuits. These have nothing to do with Pimm’s, the liqueur that goes so well with lemonade, rather they are sweet sponge cookies covered in jam and topped with European chocolate.

Are Pim’s a viable substitute for Jaffa Cakes? There is only one way to find out.

I was familiar with the taste of Pim’s before I experienced Jaffa Cakes. I thought them delicious; just the right sweetness and a lovely combination of textures. Then a fellow Britophile took me to a shop where they sold whole boxes of the real thing: authentic Jaffa Cakes. I brought one home, of course, and was now prepared to compare the two goodies side by side.

Biscuit Showdown: Jaffa Cakes vs. Pim's
Here is the breakdown of my observations:

  • Biscuit: I may have been a bit unfair here. The Pim’s I tested was a little old and dry, whereas the Jaffa Cake came fresh out of the package. However, I recently tasted a raspberry Pim’s fresh out of its package, and it was also disappointingly dry. Is this a characteristic common to all Pim’s biscuits? I’d have to ingest a waist-widening amount to find out. From this one test, however, the verdict is that the Jaffa’s biscuit (or cake, whatever) was much softer and made for more pleasant eating.
  • Orange Filling: This is where I think the British treat really shines. Both fillings taste tangy and delightful, but there is so much more in the Jaffa Cake. Just look at the photo below. The biscuit on the left is flat and ordinary, the one on the right bulges with jammy filling. You can also see the difference in the first photo; on the left the Jaffa’s chocolate cracks apart to reveal a disc of jam that can actually be removed from the cookie and eaten by itself (rather like the cream filling of an Oreo). The Pim’s biscuit, on the other hand, is sadly lacking.
  • Chocolate: The crispy smooth chocolate blanket is what tops off these beauties. I believe the Jaffa has the more tender chocolate of the two. The chocolate in the Pim’s is a bit darker, and supposedly some say that it is higher quality, but I am not enough of a chocolate snob to know the difference.
Biscuit Showdown: Jaffa Cakes vs. Pim's
So I imagine that by now you can see that Jaffa comes out as the clear winner in this contest. Maybe you expected that. But the fact is that these two biscuits are in fact rather similar, and if there is absolutely no way for you to get access to a true Jaffa Cake (though there’s really no excuse, as you can read in my post on Eating British Abroad), Pim’s biscuits may be a delicious substitute. 
In the contest between Jaffa Cakes and Pim's biscuits, the British treat comes off the clear winner.
It’s a tough job being the official Picture Britain taste-tester,
but I’m dealing with it.
For those who just can’t get enough of the chocolaty, jammy deliciousness, perhaps you should try making your own Jaffa Cakes from scratch, baking up Jaffa cupcakes or a massive Jaffa Layer Cake, delectable Jaffa pancakes, or making orange and dark chocolate bread puddings that are like hot, fluffy Jaffa cakes.

If you’ve never heard about the legal kerfuffle surrounding Jaffa Cakes, you can get the whole sordid story here.

Question: Which do you prefer—Jaffa Cakes or Pim’s? 
Do you know of any other substitutes for British goodies?

Resources:
brands.nabisco.com
cooksinfo.com
picturebritain.com

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Written by Abigail Young

I've had a passion for everything British my entire life, despite being raised as a small-town girl in the American Midwest, After years of dreaming, I got the chance to live and work in England for an entire year. Now I write about my favorite country, and hopefully inspire my fellow Britophiles to get over there and experience it for themselves.

This article has 13 comments

  1. Xenia Reply

    We can get Jaffa Cakes here in Belgium. I dunno about other countries, but you can buy them in the Aldi.

  2. Shalom Reply

    im addicted to pims , jaffa is so so… and there are so many wanna be out there… 🙂

  3. Lai-Lai Reply

    You’d think they’d have Jaffa Cakes at import stores like Trader Joe’s, but no. I only recently came across Pims in the cookie isle of a Fred Meyer’s & thought they were a hard biscuit with crunchy dark chocolate, but when I bit into it, I immediately knew it was one of those Jaffa Cakes Simon from Yogscast never shuts up about.

    I would bet that British expats could find real Jaffa Cakes at any World Market though; import candy takes up 1/4 of the store.

  4. Shirley StJohn Reply

    I am addicted to the Jaffe cookies. I have tried Pims but they just are not as good as the Jaffe biscuits. I recently sent an order to Britain and hope they arrive quickly. I have stomach problems and these biscuits do wonders for me. I could eat them all day. I first purchased them in the US at Big Lots but it’s on an available now thing. I haven’t been able to get any for a month or so. I keep going to the store. But if these cakes are as good as the Party brand, I will start ordering for my next batch now.

  5. Gabyu Reply

    I’ve tried Jaffa cakes after Pim’s, i liked the hardness of the chocolate shell of the Pim’s more than in Jaffa’s. However, it is true that Jaffa’s beats Pim’s on the softness.

    I have tried the Mark and Spencer’s mini Jaffa cakes. They are even more amazing, you must try them.

  6. Patsy Reply

    I think this must be the Marmite versus Vegemite equivalent in the cake world. Personally, I slightly prefer PiM’s, not just because I like the chocolate better, but because I like the version with raspberry jam, which isn’t available in Jaffa. When fresh, I don’t think there’s much difference between PiM’s and Jaffa, and though PiM’s may dry out a bit quicker, neither is very interesting once they get old. But I wish they would bring back PiM’s with chocolate mousse filling – that was really something!

  7. Joe Reply

    The Jaffa cake is no competition to a pim’s cookie she has no clue what she is talking about. I have bin eating pim’s for more then 30 years and it never changes the consistency of the cookies. I bought the cookies in Holland and they taste a bit different then the ones in France. This is because the different distributors the Jaffa cake is a bit dry and sugary the chocolate is a cheap variant it’s more milky were pim’s is using high quality fair trade chocolate beans that is we’re the taste comes from also the jelly orange is high quality orange juice pressed from the best flesh orange in the South Africa region these combination makes the best tast in the world pim’s cookies

  8. Francis Reply

    Please, can you tell me in what year did pim’s cakes arrive in France?
    Thank you

  9. Ed Reply

    FYI, Jaffa cakes can be purchased on Amazon for a very decent price. You guys are comparing things that are designed differently. Jaffa was created and named after the Jaffa Orange (the oranges used in the filling). Pims are less soft on purpose and have a slightly darker chocolate hence the chocolate being more firm. Saying the chocolate is of less quality in the Jaffa cake vs Pims is not an accurate test as the milk chocolate vs the darker chocolate (i.e. less milk) are two different things. Pims make a drier cookie with less than half the orange jam (FYI Pims doesn’t use Jaffa Oranges so that is also different). Doesn’t make them less tasty just different. As you say Ms Young, it’s all a matter of personal taste.

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