50. Italian Nut and Chocolate Christmas Cake

Make number 50 already!  I can’t believe the year has gone so fast.

This week I’ve made Italian Nut and Chocolate Christmas Cake.  I don’t remember where the recipe came from originally but I’ve been making this version for at least 10 years.

It serves 10-12 and you will need a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin. (Or as I’ve done this year, 2 x 20cm regular cake tins)

  • 450g of nuts (I use hazelnuts and walnuts.  This year I didn’t have quite enough so made up the balance with pecans)
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 5 drops of vanilla essence
  • 65ml brandy
  • 1 level teaspoon cinnamon
  • 25g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • Finely chopped zest of 1 large orange
  • Unsalted butter and breadcrumbs to prepare the tin/s.

Preheat the oven to 180/350/gas 4.  Line the cake tin with greaseproof or baking parchment, then lightly grease this with a little unsalted butter.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Like this:

Whiz nuts and chocolate in a food processor or liquidiser until they are finely chopped but not ground. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in vanilla, brandy, cinnamon, butter and sugar.

Beat the egg yolks with a fork and then blend them in a little at a time to the mixture.

Add the finely chopped orange zest.

Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff peaks and then fold these into the mixture gently a little at a time.

Pour mixture into one or two already prepared cake tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 45 mins for two tins or around 75 mins for one tin.  Test the cake by sticking a cocktail stick in the centre.  If it comes out without cake mix on it, the cakes are ready. (It will likely have melted chocolate on it, that is ok).

Rest the cakes for a five minutes in the tins, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

You can either store the well wrapped cakes in the fridge for 2 weeks or freeze them.

Dust with icing sugar and its ready.

43. Nanaimo Chocolate Bar

Our lovely niece discovered the most amazing chocolate bars when she lived in Canada last year.  More about Nanaimo bars and links to recipes here. Of course, as you might expect, I haven’t stuck to the recipe.  As a special treat, I made these yesterday on the first day of National Novel Writing Month, I’ve named this variation ‘NaNoWriMo Bars’.

There are 3 layers to both Nanaimo and NaNoWriMo bars.  For this recipe I used a 18cmx28cm baking pan, that I lined with baking parchment.

Bottom Layer:

½ cup Butter

½ cup Sugar

5 tablespoons Cocoa Powder

1 egg

1¼ cup Digestive Biscuit Crumbs

¾ cup Porridge Oats

  • Melt butter, sugar and cocoa powder together
  • Add beaten egg and cook for a further 3 minutes
  • Take off heat and mix in other ingredients
  • Press into pan

Middle Layer

½ cup Butter

2 tablespoons Custard Powder

2½ tablespoons Milk

2 cups Icing Sugar

  • Beat ingredients together until light and fluffy
  • Spread over biscuit base

Top Layer

100g chocolate

2 tablespoons butter

  • Melt chocolate and butter together over a pan of hot water
  • Spread over top of cream layer
  • Place in fridge overnight

And here they are: