Nigella's Sunken Chocolate Amaretto Cake recipe

Slice of Chocolate Amaretto Cake with ice cream

If I had to choose just one cake to make for the rest of my life, this would be it. Of course I love how it tastes: rich, chocolatey and decadent, but speaking as someone who is generally a lazy, unenthusiastic baker, there are many other reasons why this is my favourite cake:

  • No decorating is required apart from a dusting of cocoa powder.
  • The sugar content is fairly low (in my opinion) for a cake. I sometimes reduce the sugar from 125g to 90g and after the cake is cut into 12 slices it works out at around 2 teaspoons of sugar per slice. I should say that the slices are small and if I’m making this to feed other people for dessert then I cut it into 8 slices.
  • The butter doesn’t need to be at room temperature as it’ll be melted.
  • There’s no need to separate the eggs. I don’t know why but I hate separating eggs.
  • The cake freezes beautifully and defrosts in the microwave in less than a minute.
  • The cake has booze in it (only a subtle taste). I love booze in food.

The eggs have to be at room temperature but apart from remembering to take them out of the fridge (if that’s where you store them) this is an incredibly easy cake to make. 

I’ve experimented with different kinds of alcohol. Orange liqueur worked well although 4 tablespoons were needed to really taste it and some orange zest probably would have helped. Cherry liqueur wasn’t great; even with 5 tablespoons I couldn’t detect it but it might have been the liqueur I used (all of them came from M&S). Now that I think of it, thanks to Nigella, I have a collection of drinks bought purely to cook with: Marsala, Vermouth, bourbon and Amaretto. I’ve gotten through an entire bottle of Amaretto just from making this cake. 

I’ve listed the Amaretto cream from the original recipe in the ingredients but I’ve only made it a few times. It’s a great accompaniment to the cake but we usually eat it plain, or with a scoop of ice cream. This cake is fairly similar to Nigella's Chocolate Olive Oil Cake. Both are flat, contain ground almonds and are rich and chocolatey but I think this cake is more interesting because of the Amaretto and it's a bit quicker to make.

I freeze 6 of the 12 slices after baking and store them in a container with a little space between and some baking paper underneath. I love knowing that I can grab a frozen slice, defrost it to the point where it's warm and squidgy, add ice cream and have an amazing dessert in just a few minutes. I know that it's not the most spectacular looking cake but its taste far exceeds the effort required to make it and it's been my number one cake since the book, At My Table, came out in 2017. That's not to say I haven't made other good chocolate cakes since. Samin Nosrat's Midnight Chocolate Cake is phenomenal but for taste and convenience nothing rivals this trusty Chocolate Amaretto Cake.

Ingredients

Serves: 8-12

Chocolate Amaretto Cake

  • 100g dark chocolate (around 74% cocoa solids)
  • 100g butter (salted or unsalted)
  • 4 eggs
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbs amaretto liqueur

Amaretti Cream

  • 250ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp amaretto liqueur
  • 4 amaretti biscuits, crumbled

You will need

  • 20cm springform cake tin

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan), line the bottom of a 20cm round springform tin with baking paper and grease the sides with butter or light olive oil.
  2. Add 100g of dark chocolate and 100g of butter to a heatproof bowl and either melt in a microwave on the defrost setting or place the bowl over a pan of boiling water, making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Once melted, put to one side and leave to cool a little.
  3. Add 125g of caster sugar to a large mixing bowl and crack in 4 eggs. If you have a freestanding mixer, mix for 2-3 minutes until you have a pale yellow, moussy mixture. I use a hand mixer and this takes around 5 minutes.
  4. Combine 75g of ground almonds in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of sifted cocoa powder then turn the mixer down to low and slowly add the almonds and cocoa into the egg mixture, a tablespoon at a time.
  5. Stir 3 tablespoons of Amaretto liqueur into the melted chocolate and butter, then with the mixer still on low, slowly pour the melted chocolate into the cake batter until all the ingredients have fully combined.
  6. Use a silicone spoon or spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The cake is ready when it begins to come away from the edges of the tin and a cake tester comes out with just a few crumbs sticking to it.
  7. Keep the cake in its tin and transfer it to a cooling rack, draping a clean tea towel over it. Nigella’s recipe says, “As it cools, the top of the cake will crack a little more, and it will sink slightly, leaving a frilly edge”. I find that the cake sinks and cracks a lot but almost never gets a frilly edge.
  8. Once the cake has cooled, unclip the tin and if possible, leave it on its base as it’s quite fragile. Dust a generous teaspoon of cocoa powder over the top of the cake, using a sieve.
  9. Just before serving, whip 250ml of double cream with a tablespoon of Amaretto until thickened but still soft, then fold in the majority of 4 crumbled Amaretti biscuits before transferring the cream to a serving bowl and sprinkling the remaining Amaretti biscuits on top.

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