Cubes of ultra-rich chocolate cake with a dark cherry centre and covered in a dark chocolate ganache — a pretty treat!


For the cake mixture
1 x 425g tin pitted black cherries in light syrup
1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur 150g dark chocolate

              (about 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
150g unsalted butter, softened
120g caster sugar
5 large free-range eggs, at room temperature, separated
60g ground almonds
90g plain flour

To finish
60g unsalted butter, softened
120g icing sugar, sifted
Pink food colouring
1 —2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
1 x quantity Ganache, made with dark chocolate

gold leaf (optional)

1. Heat your oven to 180°C / 350°F / gas 4. Drain the cherries, saving the syrup. Put I 6 cherries into a small bowl with the liqueur and 1 tablespoon of the syrup (you won’t need the rest of the cherries and syrup for this recipe). Stir then leave to soak until needed.

2. Put the chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Set over a pan of hot water and melt gently. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir the chocolate until smooth, then leave to cool until needed.

3. Put the soft butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer or wooden spoon until light and creamy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Beat in the cooled chocolate. Sift the almonds and flour into the bowl and fold in with a large metal spoon or plastic spatula. Put the egg whites into a very clean, large bowl and whisk just until stiff peaks form. Fold into the cake mixture in 2 batches.

4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread evenly Place in the heated oven and bake for about 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set the tin on a wire rack. Run a round-bladed knife around the sponge to loosen it from the tin. Firm up in the tin for 5 minutes, then carefully turn out the sponge on to the rack and leave until cold.

5. When ready to finish, make up the icing by beating the soft butter with the icing sugar until smooth and evenly blended. Spoon half of the icing into another bowl and tint with a little pink colouring — this icing will be used for piping the decoration, so if it seems a bit stiff add a few drops of the cherry soaking liquid. Set aside at room temperature Add I tablespoon of liqueur and I tablespoon of the cherry soaking liquid to the icing in the first bowl —this will be used as part of the filling.

6. Cut the sponge into I 6 squares, then trim each one so the sides are exactly 4cm.Turn the squares upside down and remove a plug of cake from the centre of each with an apple corer (or the tip of a small sharp knife). Make sure the hole is large enough to fit a cherry, and keep the sponge plugs’. Lightly brush the inside of each hole with the remaining liqueur, then carefully fit a cherry into the hole, Add a dab of the liqueur- flavoured icing and press a small slice of the cake ‘plug’ on top. Turn the square right way up (so the plug is underneath) and set back on the wire rack.

7. Carefully spoon the ganache over the sponge squares, helping it down the sides with a small palette knife. Leave to set in a cool spot.

8. When ready to decorate, spoon the pink icing into a small disposable piping bag and snip off the tip so the opening is about 2mm wide. Pipe the icing over each square to resemble ribbon on a parcel, then pipe a small bow on top of each. Add gold leaf if using.