We had an early Christmas meal with some friends, and since one is gluten-intolerant, Christmas pudding is out. I made this to take with us instead. It’s very rich, so serve small slices! It’s not really a cake, as no baking is involved. Rather, it’s a boozy chocolate mousse layered with cardamom walnut praline, truffle and candied orange peel.
For the “cake”
300g dark chocolate
200ml double cream
Cointreau/brandy to taste
1 large orange
1 tblsp caster sugar
For the praline:
8-10 cardamom pods
For the candied orange peel
Start with the bottom truffle layer. Heat 100ml of double cream in a small heavy-bottomed pan. Break 100g of chocolate into the warmed cream and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture combines into a smooth, thick liquid. Add cointreau/brandy to taste. Pour into a 9″ loose-bottomed tin.
Slice one orange into rounds, then cut each one in half. Place these, cut side down, around the edge of the tin, using the truffle to stick them in place. Refrigerate for at least half an hour.
Start the candied orange peel. Grease a baking tray. Using a potato peeler, shave strips off the remaining two oranges. I did short vertical strips off one, and one long spiral off the other. Put in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a rapid boil, then drain. Repeat two or three more times, until the peel is soft and no longer so bitter. I boiled mine 3 times in all. Return the pan to the heat with 150g sugar and 75ml water. Stir until all of the sugar has melted, then add the peel. Boil for about half an hour in the syrup until the peel is sweet and the syrup has reduced to a sticky mess. Pour onto a greased baking tray and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, make the praline. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, lightly oiled. Bash your walnuts into small pieces. Use a pestle and mortar to pulverise the cardamom pods. Remove the husks and retain the seeds. Put the sugar and a tiny bit of cold water in a small pan. I used a frying pan. Heat very gently until the sugar has melted, then allow to bubble for 3-4 minutes until you have a rich, dark caramel.
Add the cardamom seeds and a tsp cinnamon. Take off the heat and leave to cool for 1 minute. Stir in the walnuts until well-coated, then pour onto the greaseproof paper and spread out quickly with a spoon. Leave to cool completely, then bash or snap into shards. Try not to eat it all. Scatter two-thirds of the praline over the truffle layer, reserving some to decorate the top with.
Make the mousse layer. Melt 150g chocolate in a bain marie. Separate the eggs. Whisk the yolks with the sugar until pale. Once the chocolate is melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Stir in the yolk mixture. In a clean bowl, use a clean mixer to whisk the egg whites until frothy and stiff. Beat 50ml of double cream until thick, then mix that into the chocolate mixture. Fold one spoonful of egg whites into the chocolate mixture, carefully folding in a figure-eight motion until just incorporated. Repeat with the remaining egg whites until you have a sturdy chocolate mousse. Pour/spoon carefully into the tin, trying not to disturb the orange slices. I used the strips of orange peel round the edge at this point. Return to the fridge.
Make another, thinner, layer of chocolate truffle with 100g chocolate and a splash of cream. Heat together gently until combined, then add cointreau and pour over the mousse layer. Decorate with strips of candied orange and walnut praline.
Leave to set overnight. To remove from tin, use a sharp knife around the edge, then lift out very carefully. Serve in very small slices using a hot, sharp knife.