I know it’s January and indulgent an recipe is kind of going against the grain but as I stare out the window at freezing lashing rain and gale force winds, I just want the comfort and endorphin release of this cake! I LOVE this cake! Almond, chocolate, orange…what more can you want from a cake?
300g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
100g Amaretti biscuits
200g ground almonds
Zest of 1 orange
For the Orange Ganache:
300g dark chocolate, at least 70 % cocoa solids
2 tablespoons Grand marnier or Cointreau
- Preheat the oven to 180°C ,Fan 170°C ,Gas Mark 4, grease 2 spring 22 cm/9 inch release tins and line the bases with baking paper.
- Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl and stand over a saucepan of just simmering water until melted, ensuring the bottom of the bowl is not in contact with the water. Allow to cool slightly
- Put the biscuits, almonds and sugar into the food processor and blitz until all are finely ground, add the eggs (one at a time) and blitz again.
- Add the melted chocolate to the food processor and blitz, the sir in the orange zest.
- Pour half the mixture into each cake tin.
- Bake for about 35 minutes – when the cakes are ready, they will have risen started to crack at the top.
- Leave to cool for 10 minutes then release the clips. They will come out of the tin very easily. Allow to cool fully on a wire rack.
- Peel the paper off the bottom of the cakes and cut in half widthways.
For the Orange Ganache:
Place the cream in a pan over a gentle heat and bring to the boil.
Remove from the heat and add the chocolate & Grand Marnier. Stir until the chocolate has melted.
To assemble the cake:
Place one disc of the cake on a plate or cake stand and cover with some of the ganache
Layer the cakes on top of one another using the ganache in between each to hold each piece together.
Using a palette knife, spread the rest of the ganache over the cake. You can keep a jug of boiling water beside you to dip the palette knife into if it is getting a bit sticky.
Decorate with some of the orange zest sprinkled on top.
Individual Mini Christmas Cakes
I have been making these mini Christmas cakes for about 5 years now and they always go down very well with both my family and with the students at my Christmas cookery classes.
I took inspiration from Nigella Lawson’s recipe for Christmas cake with the addition of chestnut puree. I like the texture and earthy flavour of it in these cakes but leave it out if you wish.
I love these mini cakes for two reasons! Firstly, they are very quick and easy to make and don’t take weeks of planning in advance. You can decide to make them a couple of days before Christmas and make them at the drop of a hat! Secondly, I love individualising them for the various different members of my family. Sometimes I write everybody’s name on the top of each in icing.
If you are struggling to find mini cake tins, just do what I did and use empty tuna tins! I also use mini loaf tins too.
You can of course make just one large Christmas cake if you would prefer. If doing one cake, use a 9” tin and increase the baking time to 1 ½ hours.
Mini Christmas Cakes
(Makes 10-12 mini cakes)
110g Candied Peel
25g Crystallized Ginger
250g Light Muscovado Sugar
250g Chestnut Puree
Juice and Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 Lemon
3 Eggs, beaten
250g of Plain Flour
½ Teaspoon of baking powder
¼ Teaspoon of cinnamon
¼ Teaspoon of ground cloves
¼ Teaspoon of ground nutmeg
¼ Teaspoon of mixed spice
Apricot jam, smooth
1 pack of marzipan or homemade almond paste
1 pack of ready to roll icing
- Place the sultanas, raisins, candied peel, dates, apricots, currants and crystallized ginger into a bowl.
- Pour sherry over and mix thoroughly
- Pre-heat the oven to 150˚C , 140˚C Fan, Gas mark 2
- Grease the mini cake tins and line with grease proof paper
- Place the fruit into a wide bottomed pot with the sugar, butter, chestnut puree, orange juice and zests
- Bring to the boil gently and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every now and then
- Turn off the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes
- Add the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and ginger and stir
- Add the beaten eggs
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins
- Bake for 1 hour, checking regularly as the length of time depends on the size of your cake tins
- Check the cakes are ready by inserting a skewer, if it comes out clean they are ready, if the skewer comes out wet they need to be returned to the oven
- When they are ready, leave to cool and then remove from the tins.
- To decorate the cakes, heat the apricot jam and brush onto the cakes
- Warm the marzipand a little in your hands to make it pliable, but no too much or it will start to seep oil
- Roll out the marzipan with a little icing sugar if it is sticky
- Cut out the shape of the cake in the marzipan and place a the marzipan on the top
- Roll out the icing and using the tins you have made the cakes in, cut out the icing so that it is bigger than the cake (allowing enough for the side of the cakes to be covered)
- Place the icing over the cake and tuck in at the bottom, trimming as necessary.
Decorate however you wish!