Italian Chocolate Nut Christmas Cake
Liberally dusted with icing sugar, this chocolate cake from Italian cookery writer Anna del Conte, is delicious at teatime, or even after supper with a glass of sweet wine.
This recipe is from Delia's Happy Christmas. Makes one 8 inch (20 cm) round cake
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.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350F, 180C.