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Christmas-Spiced Chocolate Cake

by . Featured in NIGELLA CHRISTMAS
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Introduction

There are few more popular ways to end a dinner party than with a fallen chocolate cake – the cakes are so called because they are compact and flourless and, when cooling out of the oven, their rich centres drop and dip a little. It is into this dip, not so dramatic as to be called a crater, that you drop or scatter the sticky nut topping. I serve this with Cointreau Cream, made simply by whisking 250ml double cream until softly whipped, whisking in about 45ml of Cointreau (or Triple sec or Grand Marnier, of course) to taste at the end.

Despite the name, this cake is for all-year-round delectation.

There are few more popular ways to end a dinner party than with a fallen chocolate cake – the cakes are so called because they are compact and flourless and, when cooling out of the oven, their rich centres drop and dip a little. It is into this dip, not so dramatic as to be called a crater, that you drop or scatter the sticky nut topping. I serve this with Cointreau Cream, made simply by whisking 250ml double cream until softly whipped, whisking in about 45ml of Cointreau (or Triple sec or Grand Marnier, of course) to taste at the end.

Despite the name, this cake is for all-year-round delectation.

Christmas-Spiced Chocolate Cake
Photo by Lis Parsons

Ingredients

Makes: 10-12 slices

Metric Cups

For the Cake

  • 150 grams chopped dark chocolate
  • 150 grams soft butter
  • 6 large eggs
  • 250 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 100 grams ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of ground cloves
  • zest of 1 clementine (or satsuma)
  • 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder

For the Topping

  • juice of 1 clementine (or satsuma)
  • 15 grams butter
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 50 grams flaked almonds

For the Cake

  • ¾ cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 11 tablespoons soft butter
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of ground cloves
  • zest of 1 clementine (or satsuma)
  • 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder

For the Topping

  • juice of 1 clementine (or satsuma)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup slivered almonds

Method

  1. Take anything you need out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature. The only truly important thing, however, is that the eggs aren’t cold, so if they are, just put them into a bowl (I use the KitchenAid bowl I’m going to whisk them in later) and cover with warm water for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF. Butter the sides and line the bottom of a 23cm / 9 inch springform tin.
  3. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl, in a microwave according to the manufacturer’s instructions, or suspended over a pan of simmering water, and set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together until thick, pale and moussy. They should have at least doubled in volume, even tripled. If you’re using a freestanding mixer, as I do, this is effortless.
  5. Gently fold in the ground almonds, cinnamon, cloves, clementine/satsuma zest and espresso powder, taking care not to lose the air you have whisked in, then, finally, pour and scrape in the melted, slightly cooled, chocolate and butter, folding gently again.
  6. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes, by which time the top of the cake should be firm, and the underneath still a bit gooey.
  7. Remove from the oven, and sit it on a wire rack, draped with a clean tea towel, to cool completely.
  8. To make the topping for the cake, put the clementine/satsuma juice into a small, preferably non-stick, frying pan with the butter, sugar and cinnamon and melt everything together, then let it sizzle for a minute or so and begin to caramelize before adding the almonds.
  9. Stir everything together, and occasionally tip the pan to keep it all moving; what you want is for all the liquid to disappear and the nuts to look shiny and be coated thinly in a fragrant, orange-scented toffee.
  10. Remove to a plate and cool.
  11. Unspring the cake and transfer to a cake stand or plate; I am brave enough to take it off its base sometimes, but don’t if you’re scared. Remember this cake, however intense and elegant within, has a rather ramshackle rustic appearance on the outside.
  12. Scatter with the almonds, mainly letting them pile up in the centre of the cake, but drop a few here and there all over the top. And serve with the cointreau cream.
  1. Take anything you need out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature. The only truly important thing, however, is that the eggs aren’t cold, so if they are, just put them into a bowl (I use the KitchenAid bowl I’m going to whisk them in later) and cover with warm water for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF. Butter the sides and line the bottom of a 23cm / 9 inch springform tin.
  3. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl, in a microwave according to the manufacturer’s instructions, or suspended over a pan of simmering water, and set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together until thick, pale and moussy. They should have at least doubled in volume, even tripled. If you’re using a freestanding mixer, as I do, this is effortless.
  5. Gently fold in the almond meal, cinnamon, cloves, clementine/satsuma zest and espresso powder, taking care not to lose the air you have whisked in, then, finally, pour and scrape in the melted, slightly cooled, chocolate and butter, folding gently again.
  6. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes, by which time the top of the cake should be firm, and the underneath still a bit gooey.
  7. Remove from the oven, and sit it on a wire rack, draped with a clean tea towel, to cool completely.
  8. To make the topping for the cake, put the clementine/satsuma juice into a small, preferably non-stick, frying pan with the butter, sugar and cinnamon and melt everything together, then let it sizzle for a minute or so and begin to caramelize before adding the almonds.
  9. Stir everything together, and occasionally tip the pan to keep it all moving; what you want is for all the liquid to disappear and the nuts to look shiny and be coated thinly in a fragrant, orange-scented toffee.
  10. Remove to a plate and cool.
  11. Unspring the cake and transfer to a cake stand or plate; I am brave enough to take it off its base sometimes, but don’t if you’re scared. Remember this cake, however intense and elegant within, has a rather ramshackle rustic appearance on the outside.
  12. Scatter with the almonds, mainly letting them pile up in the centre of the cake, but drop a few here and there all over the top. And serve with the cointreau cream.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Make the chocolate cake up to 3 days ahead and store in an airtight container. Make the nut mixture and store, on baking parchment, in small airtight container or wrap in a loose “bag” of foil.

FREEZE AHEAD TIP: Make and freeze the chocolate cake up to 1 month ahead. Thaw overnight in a cool room.

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Make the chocolate cake up to 3 days ahead and store in an airtight container. Make the nut mixture and store, on baking parchment, in small airtight container or wrap in a loose “bag” of foil.

FREEZE AHEAD TIP: Make and freeze the chocolate cake up to 1 month ahead. Thaw overnight in a cool room.

Tell us what you think

What 6 Others have said

  • Made this cake for a birthday. Really delicious. Instead of whipped cream I served it with hot vanilla sauce and added small cocos macarons to the almond flake topping. For sure one of my davourite chocolate cake recipes for winter season. ;-)

    Posted by Simone.Rezik on 11th December 2015
  • I'm planning to make this cake for Xmas as it looks just delicious. The only problem is my husband does not like coffee taste in anything. Is coffee flavour strong in that cake? Can i omit the expresso powder and still have a tasty cake? Or is it going to be totally different cake then?

    Posted by magx on 21st December 2012
  • Fabulous cake! I loved it, more if I think that it has no gluten in it. I did it with 70% chocolate, but changed the frosting. Instead of the almond mix, I mixed mascarpone with hazelnut liquor, and used this cream as a frosting. Delicious! Will do it again.

    Posted by babeijon on 7th December 2013
  • This was a smashing hit with my friends at X-mas eve! Some sparklers on top made it even more festive. Only the double cream with Cointreau did not seem to work. I prefer a lighter cream mixed with mascarpone instead of double cream! The double cream is just too rich and mightily, also the Cointreau does not seem to come, as I wanted. Thank you for the delicious recipe!

    Posted by Quirky Tess! on 29th December 2012
  • When I tried this cake, the man of the house did the shopping and bought yummy almond dark chocolate (72%). It added an extra nutty intensity to the cake and is definitely something I would do again. I also added fresh pomegranate seeds before serving for a festive look; looked and tasted delightful. Yum!

    Posted by Ren on the Road on 22nd December 2012
  • This was a fabulous hit at the Xmas day party I went to last year. I messed it up a bit, but they were clammering for more - it was unbelievably fabulous and easy to make. So I'm doing another this year and am going to make it every year, and this time, take my time.

    Posted by takart on 28th October 2012
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