Try our version of zuccotto chocolate cake, a classic Italian dessert with sponge, chocolate and a splash of booze. It's perfect for entertaining guests
- Serves: 10 persons
- 100g 70% dark chocolate
- 30g blanched almonds, toasted
- 30g blanched hazelnuts, toasted
- 300ml whipping cream
- 40g icing sugar
- ½Italian sponge cake
- 3tbsp of each rum, brandy and cherry brandy
- 2tbsp cocoa powder
- butter, for the tin
- 5eggs, separated
- 225g golden caster sugar
- 200g plain white or ‘00’ Italian flour, plus extra for dusting
- finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 1tsp dark rum
Step 1Line a 2 litre mixing bowl with cling film and very lightly brush with oil.
Step 2To make the cake, heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and flour a 23cm loose-bottomed, round, deep cake tin. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until thick, pale and creamy. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then gently fold into the egg mixture. Gradually sift in and fold in the flour. Add the lemon zest, vanilla and rum, and mix until well-blended.
Step 3Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and well risen. turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool.
Step 4Cut the cake in half horizontally (freeze the remaining half to use for another time) then trim off the top crust so you have a thin layer of sponge.
Step 5Break half of the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and stand the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. heat until melted, then remove the bowl from the heat. Cool. Chop the remaining chocolate into small pieces.
Step 6Roughly chop the almonds and hazelnuts. Whip the cream until it holds its shape, then mix in the chopped nuts and chopped chocolate. Divide the cream in half and add the melted chocolate to one half. Sift half of the icing sugar into each half of the cream and stir in gently. Chill in the fridge until required.
Step 7Push the cake into the bowl so it takes on the shape of the bowl. Mix the rum, brandy and cherry brandy. Brush the cake with the rum mixture to moisten it completely and help it mould to fit the bowl firmly. Trim off any untidy edges and use your hands to get as smooth a finish as you can.
Step 8Spoon in the white cream mixture and spread it evenly up the inside of the cavity. Fill the centre with the chocolate mixture and smooth the top. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 4-5 hours before serving.
Step 9To decorate, turn the zuccotto out on to a serving plate. Cut out a circle of greaseproof paper about the same size as the zuccotto when turned out. Draw 8 even wedges on it, and cut out each alternate wedge. sift icing sugar over the whole top of the zuccotto. Place the cut-out template over the top and liberally sift the cocoa over. Carefully remove the paper and you will have given the zuccotto its classic design.