Chocolate and brandied cherry make this the ultimate decadent dessert, perfect for entertaining guests over the festive season.
Preheat the oven to gas 3, 170ºC, fan 150ºC. Butter a 23cm (9in) springform cake tin. Line the base of the tin with a disc of greased, nonstick baking paper. Lightly dust the tin with plain flour and tip out any excess.
Put the chopped dried cherries in a small saucepan, add the cherry brandy and gently heat but don’t boil. Remove from the heat and leave to cool so that the cherries plump up and absorb the brandy.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth and remove from the heat. Add the brandied cherries and any leftover brandy to the mixture.
Put the egg yolks, vanilla extract and both of the sugars in the bowl of a freestanding mixer. Whisk until pale and doubled in volume; the mixture should leave a ribbon trail when the whisks are lifted from the bowl.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt in another spotlessly clean bowl until stiff but not dry.
Using a large metal spoon, fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks. Sift the ground almonds and flour into the bowl and fold in until just combined.
Stir a large spoonful of the egg whites into the batter to loosen the mixture slightly and then fold in the remainder. Carefully pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin, spread until level and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, until the cake is starting to crack at the edges and the middle is only just set.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. The cake may sink and crack as it cools but don’t worry – this is part of its charm.
Serve the cake at room temperature, lightly dusted with cocoa and icing sugar. Decorate with fresh cherries and serve with crème fraîche or ice cream.
See more Christmas recipes