December 2, 2012

From Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson

Serves 10 to 12 (slices)


150g dark chocolate, chopped
150g soft butter
6 eggs
250g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g ground almonds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
zest of 1 clementine/satsuma
4 tsp instant espresso powder

juice of zested clementine/satsuma
15g butter
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
50g flaked almonds


1. Take ingredients out of the fridge if necessary including the eggs
2. Preheat oven to 180C.  Butter the sides and line the bottom of a 23cm 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 and pale.  They should have at least doubled in volume, even tripled.
5. Gently fold in the ground almonds, cinnamon, cloves, clementine 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 mins 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 juice into a small, preferably non-stick ,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.
8. 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.
9. Remove from the heat to cool.
10. Un-spring the cake and transfer to a cake stand.  I am brave enough to take it off its base sometimes, but don’t if you’re scared.
11. Scatter with the almonds mainly letting them pile up on the centre of the cake but drop a few here and there all over the top, and serve with cream.

La Femme Version:

Not being a fan of traditional Christmas pud this is the perfect Christmas dessert in my mind.  I was worried that my topping really didn’t look as special as Nigella’s did, I might even have been more generous with the amounts of those ingredients, however it was of course delicious.

Wine Matching:

It is no surprise to my regular followers that I suggest pairing this with a dryl, fruity, red wine with some depth of character.  Of course it is best if the wine itself displays dark chocolate characters. Shiraz certainly has this capability.  The festive spices in this cake, cinnamon and cloves, add another flavour element which would harmonize well with Merlot-based wines.  Try them all – there is a festive challenge for you!


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