It's a classic combo, cherries and chocolate, and for good reason. This is an ideal do-ahead number for Christmas lunch. Serve with crème fraîche to cut through the richness. Start this recipe a day ahead to set the marquise.
- 250 gm dark chocolate (60%-66% cocoa solids), finely chopped
- 180 gm butter, diced
- 50 ml brandy
- 4 egg yolks
- 100 gm caster sugar
- 2 eggwhites
- 300 gm cherries, pitted
- 150 gm caster sugar
- 1 cinnamon quill
- 40 ml brandy
Chocolate sponge cake
- 2 eggs
- 110 gm (½ cup) caster sugar
- 50 gm (1/3 cup) plain flour
- 1½ tbsp Dutch-process cocoa
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 30 gm butter, melted and cooled
- 1For boozy cherries, stir cherries, sugar, orange rind and juice, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until cherries are tender but still hold their shape (4-5 minutes). Add brandy and refrigerate to chill. Boozy cherries will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 weeks.
- 2For chocolate sponge, preheat oven to 180C and butter a 24cm x 35cm baking tray and line with baking paper. Whisk eggs and sugar in an electric mixer until very pale and tripled in volume (6-8 minutes), then sieve in flour, cocoa and cinnamon in 2 batches, folding to combine between additions. Fold in butter, then spread batter evenly over prepared tray, smooth top and bake until risen and centre springs back when pressed lightly (8-10 minutes). Cool in tray.
- 3Line a 23cm x 7.5cm straight-sided loaf tin with plastic wrap. Cut chocolate sponge to line base and sides of cake tin, then brush lightly with a little of the boozy cherry syrup.
- 4Melt chocolate and butter in a bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth, then stir in brandy and set aside. Whisk yolks and sugar in an electric mixer until thick and pale (3-4 minutes), then fold into chocolate mixture. Whisk eggwhite and a pinch of salt in the clean bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form (2-3 minutes), fold into chocolate mixture, then pour into prepared loaf tin to half-fill. Drain a third of the boozy cherries and blot dry on paper towels, then scatter over chocolate mixture. Pour remaining chocolate mixture over to fill and smooth top. Cut remaining sponge to cover top, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to set.
- 5To serve, use plastic wrap to lift marquise out of tin onto a chopping board. Thickly slice with a warm knife and serve slices with a dollop of crème fraîche and boozy cherries and syrup spooned on top.