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Italian Christmas Pudding Cake

by . Featured in NIGELLISSIMA
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Introduction

This recipe is my own but at the same time a conflation of a couple of Italian Christmas must-haves: the glorious, fruit-studded panettone and crema di mascarpone, which is best described as tiramisu without the Savoiardi biscuit layer, and sometimes with pieces of chocolate stirred through the mascarpone mixture. I have brought in a cassata element, which means I add, along with the chocolate, some crumbled marrons glaces (though any candied or dried fruits could do) and chopped pistachios. The pomegranate seeds I tumble over the top at the end are there for their beauty as well as to add a further seasonal touch but, importantly, are thought to bring luck and should therefore be an indispensible part of the Christmas table.

If you would like to make this cake without the uncooked eggs, then simply omit the eggs and caster sugar. Then whisk 50g/½ cup icing/confectioner's sugar into the mascarpone and double/heavy cream carrying on with the recipe as normal. You could add 2 tablespoons of Advocaat along with the Marsala if you would like to emulate the original's eggyness.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

This recipe is my own but at the same time a conflation of a couple of Italian Christmas must-haves: the glorious, fruit-studded panettone and crema di mascarpone, which is best described as tiramisu without the Savoiardi biscuit layer, and sometimes with pieces of chocolate stirred through the mascarpone mixture. I have brought in a cassata element, which means I add, along with the chocolate, some crumbled marrons glaces (though any candied or dried fruits could do) and chopped pistachios. The pomegranate seeds I tumble over the top at the end are there for their beauty as well as to add a further seasonal touch but, importantly, are thought to bring luck and should therefore be an indispensible part of the Christmas table.

If you would like to make this cake without the uncooked eggs, then simply omit the eggs and caster sugar. Then whisk 50g/½ cup icing/confectioner's sugar into the mascarpone and double/heavy cream carrying on with the recipe as normal. You could add 2 tablespoons of Advocaat along with the Marsala if you would like to emulate the original's eggyness.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Italian Christmas Pudding Cake
Photo by Petrina Tinslay

Ingredients

Makes: 12-14 slices

Metric Cups
  • approx. 625 grams panettone (or pandoro)
  • 6 tablespoons tuaca liqueur
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 75 grams caster sugar
  • 500 grams mascarpone cheese (at room temperature)
  • 250 millilitres double cream (at room temperature)
  • 125 millilitres marsala
  • 75 grams marrons glacés (pieces)
  • 125 grams mini chocolate chips (or regular chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate)
  • 100 grams shelled pistachios (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
  • 1½ pounds panettone (or pandoro)
  • ⅓ cup tuaca liqueur
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • ⅓ cup superfine sugar
  • 2 cups mascarpone cheese (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (at room temperature)
  • ½ cup marsala
  • ⅓ cup marrons glacés (pieces)
  • ⅔ cup mini chocolate chips (or regular chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate)
  • ⅔ cup shelled pistachios (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

Method

  1. Using a serrated knife, cut the panettone roughly into 1cm / ½ inch slices, then use about a third of these to line the bottom of a 22 or 23cm / 9 inch springform cake tin. Tear off pieces to fit so that there are no gaps; panettone is fabulously soft and mouldable, so this isn’t a hard job. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the Tuaca (or other liqueur of choice) over it so that the panettone lining is dampened. It looks like a beautiful golden patchwork made out of cake.
  2. Now get on with the luscious filling. Whisk – using a freestanding electric mixer for ease – the eggs and sugar until very frothy and increased in volume and lightness.
  3. More slowly, whisk in the mascarpone and double cream, then gradually whisk in the Marsala and carry on whisking until the mixture is thick and spreadable. Remove 250ml / a good cupful to a bowl or other container, cover and put in the fridge; this is for the top layer, which is not added until you serve the cake.
  4. Crumble the marrons glacés into the big bowl of mascarpone cream mixture, followed by 100g / ¾ of the chocolate chips and 75g / ¾ of the chopped pistachios, and fold in. Use half of this creamy filling to top the panettone layer that is lining the cake tin.
  5. Use another third (approx.) of the panettone slices to cover the cream filling, again leaving no holes for the cream to escape through. Dampen with another 2 tablespoons of liqueur.
  6. Spoon on the other half of the cream mixture and spread it evenly. Then top with a third and final layer of panettone, covering the cream as before, and drizzle over it the last 2 tablespoons of liqueur.
  7. Cover tightly with clingfilm, pressing down on the top a little, and put in the fridge overnight or for up to 2 days.
  8. When you are ready to serve, take the cake out of the fridge, unmould and sit it on a flat plate or cake stand, then spread with the reserved mascarpone mixture. Don’t try to lift the cake off the base, as the panettone slices at the bottom are too delectably damp.
  9. Scatter the top – and all around the cake, if wished – with the remaining chocolate chips and chopped pistachios and your pomegranate “jewels”. These sprinklings also provide beauteous camouflage for any less than aesthetically uplifting edges of the springform base which may be visible.
  1. Using a serrated knife, cut the panettone roughly into 1cm / ½ inch slices, then use about a third of these to line the bottom of a 22 or 23cm / 9 inch springform cake tin. Tear off pieces to fit so that there are no gaps; panettone is fabulously soft and mouldable, so this isn’t a hard job. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the Tuaca (or other liqueur of choice) over it so that the panettone lining is dampened. It looks like a beautiful golden patchwork made out of cake.
  2. Now get on with the luscious filling. Whisk – using a freestanding electric mixer for ease – the eggs and sugar until very frothy and increased in volume and lightness.
  3. More slowly, whisk in the mascarpone and heavy cream, then gradually whisk in the Marsala and carry on whisking until the mixture is thick and spreadable. Remove 250ml / a good cupful to a bowl or other container, cover and put in the fridge; this is for the top layer, which is not added until you serve the cake.
  4. Crumble the marrons glacés into the big bowl of mascarpone cream mixture, followed by 100g / ¾ of the chocolate chips and 75g / ¾ of the chopped pistachios, and fold in. Use half of this creamy filling to top the panettone layer that is lining the cake tin.
  5. Use another third (approx.) of the panettone slices to cover the cream filling, again leaving no holes for the cream to escape through. Dampen with another 2 tablespoons of liqueur.
  6. Spoon on the other half of the cream mixture and spread it evenly. Then top with a third and final layer of panettone, covering the cream as before, and drizzle over it the last 2 tablespoons of liqueur.
  7. Cover tightly with clingfilm, pressing down on the top a little, and put in the fridge overnight or for up to 2 days.
  8. When you are ready to serve, take the cake out of the fridge, unmould and sit it on a flat plate or cake stand, then spread with the reserved mascarpone mixture. Don’t try to lift the cake off the base, as the panettone slices at the bottom are too delectably damp.
  9. Scatter the top – and all around the cake, if wished – with the remaining chocolate chips and chopped pistachios and your pomegranate “jewels”. These sprinklings also provide beauteous camouflage for any less than aesthetically uplifting edges of the springform base which may be visible.

Additional Information

NOTE: this recipe contains raw or lightly cooked eggs, and is not suitable for people with compromised or weak immune systems, such as younger children, the elderly or pregnant women.

NOTE: this recipe contains raw or lightly cooked eggs, and is not suitable for people with compromised or weak immune systems, such as younger children, the elderly or pregnant women.

Tell us what you think

What 19 Others have said

  • First time making this, gorgeous! Didn’t chop the pistachios and used chopped roasted hazelnuts instead of marron glacé. Makes a big cake! Wrapped the rest in individual portions and froze. Got the liqueur on line, only used what recipe suggested, quite strong enough for me.

    Posted by Hilty on 8th January 2020
  • 2nd Christmas I have made this and it’s divine, universally loved by family and friends including hard to impress 95yr old mother in law. It is also forever known as Floor Cake in our house as my first trial attempt ended up on the floor when left in the hands of my son. We invoked the 3 second rule and ate it anyway!!

    Posted by Nicky55 on 30th December 2019
  • Pretty good! In Italy we call this cake "Panettonamisù"

    Posted by ranocchiettaromana on 19th December 2019
  • What can I say, every recipe is amazing. Not a single complaint from me.

    Posted by Sparkygaz on 19th December 2019
  • I have to make this EVERY year now, it’s so popular with the family! Even when invited out for Christmas dinner, this goes too! I have made it with Panettone or Pandoro, and with/without the Marron Glacé ( which are hard to find) and it always goes down a treat!

    Posted by Mizzma on 5th December 2019
  • This cake was utterly divine!!! And thanks to you, I found out how delicious Tuaca liqueur is too. I ended up using Rum Chata liqueur, for the mascarpone filling and I wouldn't change it. Originally I wanted to make it for Christmas Day but I ran out of time. I couldn't stop thinking about it and since I already had all the ingredients I decided to make it, this week for my birthday. My family and I were licking our plates, it was so good! Thank you, so much for such a fabulous recipe, Nigella.

    Posted by CubanCracker on 14th January 2019
  • Yum! Made it a day ahead for Christmas dessert and it was truly divine. Everything about it - flavor, texture, ease of preparation. It's now joined the lexicon of Christmas Joy! Thank you!

    Posted by ctipworth on 26th December 2018
  • Made it with pandoro instead of panettone and a citrus brandy instead of Tuaca. Everyone loved it!

    Posted by Stephong on 2nd January 2018
  • I made this for the first time this year and it was absolutely delicious and easy to prepare the day before with little fuss to finish off at serving time.

    I would say though that the first batch of cream I made split on me which apparently is very common in mascarpone if it's not 100% at room temperature. It was hard to have to throw out the tasty but curdled mixture (and what a cost too). Also the candied chestnuts were very hard to find here in New Zealand and pricey to boot. In the end I couldn't taste them amongst all the other flavours so next time I would substitute them as someone else suggests. I only share these points so that others don't go astray as I did!

    Posted by Julia_ on 25th December 2017
  • Sounds wonderfully delicious!

    Posted by RobyH on 19th December 2017
  • OMG! I have never tasted a cake where the whole tastes so much better than its individual parts. And the individual parts for this cake are heavenly. I used hazelnuts instead of glacé marrons and you know what, they softened anyway. This is heaven on a Cristmas plate and the perfect dish for a hot Aussie Xmas.

    Posted by Effiety on 20th February 2015
  • I made this cake for my New Year's Eve dinner party. I followed the recipe completely, and it was a showstopper! It's absolutely beautiful when presented on a pedestal plate. It also had my guests gasping with delight upon first bite. What a hit in every way. Thank you!

    Posted by S Marie on 3rd January 2015
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