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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.

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.

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.

Tell us what you think

What 9 Others have said

  • 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
  • OMG!! Made this for one of my Christmas desserts and it went down like a treat, so well in fact that I may very well give the traditional pudding a miss next year. My friends tried it and have taken the recipe. Absolutely mouth watering. Highly recommend!! Thank you Nigella - bellissima!

    Posted by Mumof-5 on 26th December 2014
  • For the past few years I have been WOWing the relatives with your Anglo-Italian trifle but not all of them have been as keen as me on the limoncello. But this year they were blown away by the italian pudding cake especially when I smothered it with the freshly shucked pomegranate seeks. Divine, delicious and delightful just like its inventor! Thank you Ms Lawson for posting your recipes so that those who are less competent in the kitchen can come out from back stage and occasionally take a bow.

    Posted by soraya22 on 11th January 2014
  • This was an absolute winner at my house. The Tuaca liquor which I had to buy was well worth the $35 investment. It really does taste like liquid panettone! I was unable to obtain 'marron glaces', so I substituted chopped dried apricots which I soaked in a little warmed Tuaca. I wish I didn't have to wait till next Christmas to make it again!

    Posted by anilou on 2nd January 2014
  • best cake ever!! - according to the guys at work that had the left overs.................

    Posted by kathrynwatkiss on 23rd January 2013
  • As there is snow on the ground I have made this cake this afternoon. It's now in the fridge waiting to be decorated tomorrow..............yum!

    Posted by kathrynwatkiss on 19th January 2013
  • Made this as a lighter alternative to christmas pudding and it was a big hit - delicious. However it has been forever re-named as 'Mum's Panettone death cake'.................... :)

    Posted by Louloul on 30th December 2012
  • Yes now I've my menu complete for this Christmas! Thanx

    Posted by Juud on 15th December 2012
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