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Italian Chocolate Nut Christmas Cake

Fabulous alternative to the traditional fruit cake. Includes intoxicating flavours of citrus, brandy and spices that we associate with Christmas food.

December 19, 2017

Italian Chocolate Nut Christmas Cake

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Italian Chocolate Nut Christmas Cake

makes one deep twenty centimetre cake

250gm bittersweet or dark chocolate
250gm roasted, skinned hazelnuts
250gm walnut pieces
60gm unsalted butter
3 Tbsp brandy
¼tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
225gm caster sugar
1½ Tbsp finely chopped orange zest
1½ Tbsp finely chopped lemon zest
6 x extra large 59gm eggs
½ tsp vanilla paste

icing sugar to serve


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Line the base of a deep 20cm cake tin with non-stick baking paper. Lightly grease sides of tin using butter on fingertips.
  3. Place chocolate into food processor and pulse to roughly chop. Add roasted hazelnuts and walnuts. Process until all the ingredients are finely chopped.
  4. Transfer mixed nuts and chocolate to a large bowl.
  5. Melt butter. Stir through chocolate mix with brandy, cinnamon and half quantity of sugar.
  6. Peel orange and lemon zest using peeler and finely chop.
  7. Separate egg yolks from whites. Add yolks to bowl with chopped zest and stir through other ingredients.
  8. Place whites into food mixer bowl. Whisk until soft peaks form and with motor running, add remainder of sugar in steady stream. Whisk for 30 seconds. Fold sweetened whites into chocolate mixture in a couple of batches with a metal kitchen spoon. Use a cutting action to maintain as much air as possible in the cake.
  9. Scrape mixture into prepared cake tin and bake for 55 to 60 minutes.
  10. Test by inserting a paring knife into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean the cake is ready. If there is sticky cake mixture on the skewer then replace in the oven for a further 5 to 7 minutes and then test again.
  11. Leave the cake in the tin for 5 minutes before removing. Run a blunt knife carefully around cake and invert onto a wire rack. Cool completely.
  12. Serve dredged with icing sugar.

cooks notes:

  • This cake is not only a fabulous traditional fruit cake alternative and a way of incorporating chocolate into Christmas (for all us chocaholics) but can also double up as a dessert. Serve warm (can gently heat slices in microwave) or cold with vanilla bean ice cream or an espresso custard.
  • Cake will keep for up to 2 weeks stored in the fridge or 10 days in the pantry. Tightly wrap it in foil to keep it moist.
  • Make muffin-size cakes to give as gifts; adjust cooking time to about 25 minutes.
  • This cake freezes well, so can be made a month or so in advance.

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Meet the team

Tracey Cotterell

Tracey Cotterell
Tracey Cotterell


Tracey has been in the food industry since completing her Diploma in Hotel, Catering and Institutional Management in 1982 in the UK. She worked for an outside catering company in London, then joined her parents in rural West Sussex running

View Tracey’s full profile.

Tracey Cotterell

Tracey Cotterell


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