Chocolate, orange and amoretti cake

Chocolate and Orange Amaretti Cake.
December: Step by Step Dish.
Prepared by Richard Hughes, Laven

Chocolate and Orange Amaretti Cake. December: Step by Step Dish. Prepared by Richard Hughes, Lavender House, Brundall. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

It’s that time of the year when the need to impress is balanced with a shortage of hours in the day. With so many other things to attend to, the cook needs a few recipes that are quick, easy and fail-safe but will deliver that all-important wow factor.

They don’t come any easer than this month’s recipe, and it remains a favourite in all my kitchens. Chocolate is always a winner and the dense richness of this cake belies its simplicity. We’ll be serving this with morning coffee, on the tiered afternoon tea stands and as a dessert with espresso ice cream and mascarpone cheese. It seems to pop up on everyone’s menu!

I’m always amazed at the ambition from my customers as they tell me what they plan to cook over the coming weeks. I firmly believe that when you’re entertaining you should stick to what you know – there’s enough pressure as it is without the worry of what’s going on in the ovens. One of my first bosses would always tell me that the ingredients were much clever than the chefs; they knew when the hapless cook was nervous and would misbehave! A very strange presumption, but I know exactly what he meant. If you worry about the result, invariably it won’t be what you so desperately desire, particularly if it’s being judged by your family and friends. Doubtless you’ll be showered with advice from cookery programmes, books and magazines, but if I can add to the weight of knowledge offered, keep it simple and stick with what you know.

Richard Hughes is chef proprietor of the Lavender House at Brundall and the Richard Hughes Cookery School. He is also director of The Pigs Pub at Edgefield and The Assembly House, Norwich.

Chocolate, orange and amoretti cake

One 24cm spring-form, non-stick cake tin

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas mark four

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150g good quality dark chocolate (at least 55pc cocoa solids)

100g butter

50g amoretti biscuits

100g ground almonds

175g caster sugar

1 orange, zest only

4 eggs

Cocoa powder for dusting

1 Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl and sit over a pan of hot water to gently melt.

2 Place the amoretti biscuits in a food processor and pulse.

3 Add the ground almonds.

4 Add the sugar.

5 Zest the orange.

6 Put this into the food processor and pulse.

7 Beat the chocolate and butter together until smooth.

8 Mix the almond, sugar and biscuit mixture into the chocolate and butter.

9 Add the four eggs.

10 Mix thoroughly.

11 Pour into a non-stick cake tin. Bake at 180C/gas mark four for 35 minutes until the cake has puffed and the top is slightly cracked. Test with a skewer, it should come out cleanly. Leave to stand for 30 minutes before removing from the tin and dusting with cocoa powder.

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