This delicious nutty chocolate cake smothered with a mascarpone topping is wonderfully versatile. Roast and grind your favourite nuts, then choose what chocolate you want to pair them with. Enjoy it at morning break, for afternoon tea or even as dessert.
What, I have been wondering this week, would go well with the black bottom cupcake frosting that I didn’t use last week. Whilst perusing Linda Collister’s Divine, I found a recipe that I thought would be just the thing: a nut cake. I needed it for Valentine’s Day and CT is particularly fond of nuts.
Nutty Chocolate Cake
So, for the last few days I’ve been imagining the house filled with the scent of roasting hazelnuts. So picture my disappointment when I came to make it – I had forgotten to buy any hazelnuts – bah! Luckily, I had some cashews in stock so I substituted those instead – not quite such a wonderful aroma, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Not being too fond of coffee, I decided to replace it with orange as the flavouring. I also used a different preparation method to the one in the book. In short, the recipe was an inspiration rather than an exact copy. Come to think of it, I’m incapable of following a recipe exactly anyway. The cake was not meant to be iced either, but well, that was the point of it after all.
I was so right, the chocolatey crunchy nut cake and the cream cheese icing was a great combination. In fact, I was really pleased with this creation. Using cashew nuts worked absolutely fine. I now have a good excuse for making this again to see if it is even better (is this possible?) with hazelnuts. The cake was cooked to perfection – not something I always achieve – evenly cooked but beautifully moist. It also tasted quite delicious. CT was duly impressed. Five days on, the cake tasted even better – it certainly keeps well.
First thing is to roast the nuts. You can use whatever nuts you like. Almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts and hazelnuts are all delicious. I mostly use cashews though as they give a nutty flavour and texture, but don’t overpower everything else. They’re also really easy to roast. Mostly because you don’t have to skin them as you do with hazelnuts.
So roast them for about eight minutes when they should be golden, but not too dark. Then blitz them. Don’t worry if there are different sized bits. It’s almost impossible to get a fine flour type consistency. And in any case, you want some texture in the cake. Really you do.
I tend to use a coffee grinder to do this, but a blender or food processor will work too.
I’ve given the standard creaming method for this cake, but I’ve actually made it in several ways and the differences are only slight. The easiest method is to melt the butter, chocolate and sugar together as you would when making brownies. Then beat in the eggs followed by the dry ingredients. This gives a slightly denser texture.
For a slightly lighter texture, whisk the eggs and sugar together until they’ve tripled in volume. Electric beaters are best for this. Melt the butter and sugar, and carefully mix into the eggs. Then fold in the dry ingredients.
The mascarpone topping is just dreamy. It’s also very easy to make. As long as your butter is soft, that is. Just cream the icing sugar and butter together until really light and fluffy, then beat in the mascarpone. That’s it, a simple three ingredient topping.
I like to dust mine with a little cocoa powder. But you could go wild and grate some chocolate on instead. Or just leave it plain. The choice is yours, as they say.
Chilli & Orange Nutty Chocolate Cake
Divine do a lovely dark chocolate bar with chilli and orange. I used it in the nutty chocolate cake you can see in the photos on this post. It’s a great combination. I added ½ tsp cayenne pepper to boost the chilli content, the grated zest of an orange and a tablespoon of orange juice instead of the water.
Other Nutty Chocolate Cake Variations
It’s best to use a high cocoa content dark chocolate for this nutty chocolate cake. Because without it, it won’t be particularly chocolatey. But other than that, use whatever flavour you like. Or just keep it plain. Here are a few suggestions.
- Almond & Raspberry. Use almonds instead of cashews and swap the orange chocolate for raspberry.
- For an extra nutty chocolate cake, add fifty to a hundred grams of finely chopped walnuts.
- Sea Salt & Walnut. Swap the cashew nuts for walnuts and the orange chocolate for a bar of sea salt chocolate. Or use plain chocolate and add half a teaspoon of sea salt.
- If you’d like more of a chocolate hit, add a tablespoon of cocoa powder along with the flour.
- Coffee & Hazelnut. Use hazelnuts instead of cashews and coffee chocolate instead of orange. Swap the tablespoonful of water for strong coffee.
- If you’re feeding a crowd, you’ll need a larger cake. Just double the quantities, use a slightly larger tin and bake for an additional ten minutes or so.
- Brazil Nut and Toffee. Swap the cashews for brazil nuts and use a bar of dark toffee or butterscotch chocolate.
Other Chocolate Nut Bakes You Might Like
- Chocolate baklava
- Chocolate walnut pastries
- Giant chocolate macadamia nut cookies
- Hazelnut chocolate crinkle cookies
- Henk’s chocolate nut cakes
- Pistachio chocolate biscotti
- Praline coffee chocolate cake
- Roasted hazelnut brownies
Keep in Touch
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make a version of this versatile nutty chocolate cake, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
Nutty Chocolate Cake. PIN IT.
Nutty Chocolate Tart – The Recipe
Nutty Chocolate Tart
- 100 g cashew nuts
- 100 g spicy orange dark chocolate - broken into pieces (I use Co-op's fairtrade version or Maya Gold)
- 125 g unsalted butter - softened
- 125 g light brown muscovado sugar
- 1 orange (optional)
- 2 large eggs (I use duck eggs when I can get them)
- 50 g wholemeal spelt flour
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- 100 g icing sugar
- 50 g unsalted butter - softened
- 125 g mascarpone cheese, or ricotta if you're feeling a bit more virtuous
- cocoa powder for dusting
- Roast 100g cashew nuts in the oven at 160℃ (320℉, Gas 3) for just over 8 mins until golden. Leave to cool.
- Melt the chocolate in a bowl suspended over a pan of hot, but not boiling water. Leave to cool slightly.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then grate in the orange zest, if using.
- Beat the eggs in, one by one.
- Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in. Throw any bits of bran left in the sieve into the bowl.
- Grind the nuts in a blender or food processor (I use a coffee grinder for this), then stir in.
- Add 1 tbsp water or orange juice, if using. Stir in together with the melted chocolate until just combined.
- Spoon into a 20cm sq or round silicone cake mould or lined tin. Level the top and bake in a preheated oven at 170℃ (338℉, Gas 3) for 35 mins, or until the cake is well risen and firm to the touch.
- Leave to cool for ten minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Cream the butter and icing sugar together until nearly white and fluffy.
- Beat in the mascarpone or ricotta cheese.
- Spread on top of the cake and then lightly dust with cocoa powder.