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    Heston's chocolate Christmas cake

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    Heston's chocolate Christmas cake

    “This lovely light chocolate sponge, filled with plump, boozy fruit and coated in chocolate cream, is a delicious update of the traditional yule log. Make it in stages over a week for a trouble-free run-up to Christmas.” Heston Blumenthal

    • Christmas
    • Preparation time: 1 hour, plus macerating, chilling and cooling
    • Cooking time: 20 minutes
    • Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes, plus macerating, chilling and cooling 60 minutes 20 minutes

    Serves: 8


    Soaked fruit (make up to 1 week in advance)

    35g each raisins, currants, sultanas, dried cranberries, mixed peel
    2 oranges, juice of both and zest of 1
    100g Mount Gay extra old rum
    ½ tsp each ground cloves, ginger, allspice, cardamom and cinnamon
    pinch freshly grated nutmeg

    Spiced syrup (make up to 2 days in advance)

    1 tbsp caster sugar
    2 tbsp reserved fruit soaking liquid
    Chocolate cream (make up to 2 days in advance)
    80g Heston from Waitrose chocolate sauce
    120ml double cream

    Chocolate sponge (can be made the day before)

    5 large eggs, separated
    100g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
    35g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
    15g cocoa powder, sieved CREAM CHEESE FILLING (can be made the day before)
    340g cream cheese, at room temperature
    60g unsalted butter, cut into cubes and at room temperature
    70g icing sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract

    To decorate

    natural green food colouring
    50g white marzipan
    icing sugar, for dusting
    25g white chocolate, melted
    fresh (or frozen and defrosted) cranberries, to decorate


    1. Mix together the ingredients for the soaked fruit. Cover and chill overnight, or for up to 1 week, to macerate. Strain the fruit from the liquid, and set both aside separately.

    2. For the spiced syrup, mix the sugar with 2 tbsp boiling water until dissolved. Stir in the soaking liquid and chill for up to 2 days.

    3. For the chocolate cream, put the chocolate sauce in a bowl. Put the cream in a pan over a medium heat; bring to a quick simmer. Take off the heat and gradually add to the sauce, stirring with a spatula to ensure the sauce has fully melted and the cream is well mixed in. Cover with cling film; chill overnight or for up to 2 days.

    4. For the sponge, preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Grease and line a Swiss roll tin (about 26cm x 38cm x 2.5cm) with baking parchment. Put 5 egg yolks, 1 egg white and 50g caster sugar in the bowl of a freestanding mixer. Whisk at medium/high speed until light and creamy, and it leaves a ribbon when you pull out the whisk. Fit the mixer with a clean whisk and bowl, then whisk the remaining 4 egg whites and 50g sugar at medium/ high speed to soft peaks. Meanwhile, put the dark chocolate in a bowl and microwave at 15-second intervals, mixing well between bursts until the chocolate is melted.

    5. Fold half the whisked egg white into the egg yolk mixture. Using a fine sieve, sprinkle over the cocoa powder and mix well using a spatula. Add the melted chocolate, a little at a time; mix until fully incorporated. Carefully fold in the remaining egg white until fully incorporated.

    6. When ready to bake, reduce the oven temperature to 180°C, gas mark 4. Pour the cake mixture into the lined tin and bake for about 20 minutes. Keeping the parchment paper attached, leave to cool on a rack. Then peel off the parchment paper and, if making the sponge in advance, wrap in cling film.

    7. For the cream cheese filling, put the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a freestanding mixer and whisk at medium/high speed until well mixed and creamed. In a separate bowl, mix the icing sugar, vanilla and 2 tbsp of the spiced syrup until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and gradually add the liquid into the cream cheese mixture, mixing until well incorporated.

    8. To assemble the cake, put the chocolate sponge on a large piece of parchment paper and brush all over with the remaining spiced syrup. Using a palette knife, spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the top, then sprinkle with the soaked fruit. Holding the paper from the narrowest side of the cake, pull the paper up until the edges of the cake begin to roll onto the cream. Continue to roll so it’s nice and tight. Once fully rolled, keep the cake wrapped in parchment paper. Chill, seam-side down, on a parchmentlined baking tray for 30 minutes.

    9. To decorate, put the chocolate cream in the bowl of a freestanding mixer and whisk at medium/high speed to soft peaks. Using a palette knife, spread evenly all over the log. Holding a fork at a 45° angle, drag all over the surface of the cake to create long streaks like tree bark. At either end of the cake, drag the fork to form circles of different sizes.

    10. Knead enough food colouring (about ½ tsp) into the marzipan to achieve a bright, even green colour. Dust a work surface with icing sugar; roll to 0.2cm thick. Cut out leaf shapes by hand or using a cutter; set aside. Pour the white chocolate into a disposable piping bag. Cut the tip to make a small hole; pipe on chocolate vines. Stick the leaves and cranberries over the top to resemble holly sprigs.

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