Italian Chocolate Nut Christmas Cake by Anna del Conte

Italian Chocolate Nut Christmas Cake

Recipe by AnnabelCourse: Sweet treatsCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time





This cake does not need to be made months in advance, but it does keep for 2 weeks. This chocolate version is just so good for all those who don’t like the traditional fruit cake. It is also good served as a pudding around Christmas time.


  • 225g dark chocolate (minimum 70-75% cocoa solids), broken up into small pieces

  • 5 large eggs, separated

  • 1 large orange, scrubbed under warm water and the peel (without the pith) removed with a potato peeler and very finely chopped

  • 25g icing sugar, for dusting

  • 25g unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus a little extra for the tin

  • 2 rounded tablespoons fine breadcrumbs, for the tin

  • 225g whole blanched hazelnuts

  • 225g walnut pieces

  • 5 drops vanilla extract

  • 65 ml brandy

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 200g golden caster sugar


  • Preheat the oven gas mark 4, 350F, 180C
  • Begin by buttering the cake tin generously, then sprinkle the inside with the breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess.
    Put the hazelnuts and walnut pieces in a food processor, then break the chocolate into small pieces and add it to the nuts. Pulse the machine on and off until the mixture is of a grainy consistency, but not finely ground. If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop the ingredients by hand using a sharp knife.
  • Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the vanilla extract, brandy, cinnamon, melted butter and sugar, mixing thoroughly. Now gradually add the egg yolks, mixing them in very well, and, finally, add the orange peel. Next, whisk the egg whites to the stiff-peak stage but not so thick that they become dry.
  • Gently fold them into the chocolate mixture with a large metal spoon, a few tablespoons at a time, cutting through the mixture with a high movement to incorporate plenty of air. When all the egg whites have been folded in, spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven on the centre shelf for about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes.
  • Cover the cake loosely with baking parchment for the last 10 minutes if it’s becoming too brown.The cake is ready when a cocktail stick inserted in the middle come out dry. Then leave it to rest in the tin for a couple of minutes, before turning out on to a wire rack to cool.
  • Store in the fridge, wrapped in foil, and eat within 2 weeks. The cake will also freeze well, again wrapped in foil.