Italian Chocolate, Nut & Orange Cake (GF)

rich, moist, nutty, cinnamony , orangey ……..with quite a lot of brandy too.









I have been making this cake for a few years now and have tinkered around with the original Anna Del Conte recipe and I hope the grand dame wont mind as I think my method adds a touch more body and is easier to follow, provided you do have an electric whisk or failing that bionic arms as it involves making a meringue. If you do not the cake will not fail, it will just be more dense and “fudgy”. The method is fun and involves blitzing up dark chocolate into chocolate “crumbs” which then melt into the cake as it bakes. Here I’ve served it with show off parsnip and white chocolate ice cream which did work very well.



  • Good Dark Chocolate broken into chunks or the professional chocolate drops 72% cocoa content please.  (ciocolata negru)                225g
  • Hazlenuts (alune de padure)      225g
  • Walnuts (nuci) 225g
  • Eggs separated 6 x (oua separate)
  • Sugar (zahar)     200g
  • Orange Zest (coaja de portocale)  x 1
  • Vanilla Essence (esentia de vanilia) 1 tsp
  • Something alcoholic (Whisky or Rum or Cognac)      60ml  I like brandy
  • Cinnamon (scortisoara) 2 tsp lingurite
  • 100g melted butter (unt topit)


A loose bottomed tin 20cm diameter (will make quite a nice high cake) or a 23cm diameter will make a slightly flatter one. I also make them in the paper smallish/medium pannetone cases which I like a lot.


Prepare your tin. Line with baking paper and a little oil.

Pulse the chocolate in a blender until it is grainy. You want it looking like coffee grains.IMG_8535






Next pulse the nuts. Again you want them with some texture not as a powder but if the pieces are too the cake will disintegrate when you cut it

Make a meringue with the egg whites and sugar buy whisking on full power until the meringue is glossy and shiny and when the bowl is tipped upside down the meringue stays in place. Go on try it!







Mix the egg yolk, melted butter, chocolate, nuts and alcohol, spices and orange zest to make a kind of gorgeous smelling chocolate alcohol spice concrete mix.








Now lighten it by folding in the meringue softly softly. Reserve a spoonful of the meringue.








Pour into the prepared tins. It will look too pale and you will wonder if you did something wrong. Dont worry – its because the chocolate still has to melt.








When almost done (a cocktail stick comes out clean) take out and with the one spoonful of meringue add a spoonful of water to thin down and create meringue glue. Paint the cake top which should be crusty and might have cracked in a pleasingly artistic way. Now sprinkle on sugar so it looks snowy. Pop back in the oven for only two minutes – just enough for the sugar to stick. If it caramelizes…don’t worry…just call it your special touch!


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