• Serves: 6-8
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 50 minutes
  • Difficulty: Medium

We recently carried out a survey of over 1,000 respondents, which revealed what a quarter of us already knew but kept secret as we scraped leftovers into the bin with a smile on our face for fear of upsetting anyone. We loathe the traditional Christmas pudding. In fact, more than a quarter of those surveyed will be searching for a more enjoyable alternative this year, with a brave proportion reaching for their rolling pins and making a ‘showstopper’ cake or dessert inspired by their favourite baking shows.

Leading this seasonal showstopper revolution with us here at AO, is Iain Watters, who hit headlines earlier this year after throwing his signature Baked Alaska in the bin when it was taken out of the freezer.

Iain doesn’’t want the nation’’s Christmas puds to end up in the bin like his Bake Off entry, saying “”If the Christmas pudding at your table isn’’t going to go down too well with guests, there really is very little point in making one at all. There are plenty of other homemade dessert options that would work wonderfully with a Christmas dinner.”

Well, we’re sharing a special treat created for us by Iain today – his own signature Chocolate Chestnut Orange Christmas Cake. We guarantee this one won’t end up being scraped into the bin!

Follow his video below for full instructions or scroll down for his ingredients and method.


here's what you'll need...

  • 125g soft, stoned prunes
  • 75g butter
  • 125g dark chocolate – around 60% cocoa
  • 200g chestnut puree
  • 100ml double cream
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 125g caster sugar

For the Chocolate cake

  • 3 large eggs
  • 250g butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 250g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange

For the Chocolate water ganache

  • 250g chocolate 60%
  • 125ml boiling water

For the Italian Meringue

  • 2 egg whites
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 50ml water

For the Decoration

  • Cocoa for dusting
  • Candied chestnuts
  • Flaked almonds


The cake will keep for 3 days in the fridge so can be made in advance of Christmas Day.

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here's how it's done...

For the torte:

Prepare a 20cm sprinform tin with non-stick baking paper and preheat the oven to 170C.
Firstly, blend in a food processor or very finely chop and mash the prunes and set aside.

In a bain-marie or double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter together. While the chocolate is melting, whisk the chestnut puree and double cream together until you have smooth texture and set aside.

Next, separate the eggs. Cream the caster sugar and egg yolks until they become thick and glossy. Now whisk the whites into soft peaks and set aside.

So you should have 5 different bowls of combined ingredients: mix the eggs and sugar together with the chestnut puree, followed by the prunes and then the chocolate mixture. Lightly whisk until well combined.

Finely grate the zest of the orange into the mixture followed by the juice.

Time to combine the egg whites, first put one big dollop of the whites into the mixture to loosen it up, then with the remaining whites in 2 halves, gently fold in the remaining whites until just combined – no more, as you don’’t want to knock out to much air.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 25 –- 30 mins. It should still be slightly wobbly in the middle and a few cracks will have appeared. Allow to cool then remove the springform tin and chill for a few hours in the fridge.

For the chocolate cake: 

While the torte is chilling, it’s time to start the chocolate cake. Prepare two 20 cm springform or normal tins with non-stick baking paper.
Cream together the butter and sugar with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.

Next sieve the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a separate bowl. Now, add all the eggs into the sugar mixture along with the sieved dry ingredients and beat together until well combined.

Finely grate the zest of the orange into the mixture followed by the juice and mix in.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and bake at 170C for 20 mins. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Once the cakes are half cooled and the torte has chilled, it’s time to stack them. First place one sponge on top of the torte and flip it over so the sponge is now on the bottom. The torte is quite delicate so this means there’s less chance of it breaking up. Now place the second sponge on top of the torte. The torte is now the filling of your sponge sandwich.

Ian Watters Chocolate Chestnut Orange Christmas Cake

For the ganache:

Time for the ganache! This might sound strange but the ganache is made with water and chocolate, not cream. In a bain-marie or double boiler melt the chocolate. While the chocolate is melting boil 125ml of water.

Once melted, take the bowl off the heat and pour about a tablespoon of the water into the chocolate and whisk together. It will look like it’s separating but keep whisking – it will come together! Then add the remaining water and keep whisking. The ganache will be a bit runny but will thicken up as it cools. While the ganache is still workable, cover the whole cake/torte in the ganache with a palette knife.

For the meringue:

Next, it’s time for the meringue topping. In a saucepan, stir the sugar and water together over a medium heat. Dip a pastry brush in water and brush any bits of sugar from the sides of the pan down into the syrup to melt, otherwise the sugar syrup will become grainy. When all of the sugar is dissolved, bring it to a fast boil until it reaches 120C/250F.

While the syrup is reaching temperature, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar to form soft peaks.

As soon as the syrup reaches the correct temperature, pour it onto the egg whites in a thin, steady stream as you whisk. Be careful not to pour the hot syrup directly onto the beaters, as it may stick to them or splash back at you.

When all the syrup has been mixed in, continue to whisk the meringue until it has cooled. It should be shiny and stiff and be tepid in temperature.

Transfer to a piping bag and with a large nozzle pipe small peaks onto the top of the cake, starting around the outside and working your way into the middle. The merignue is already cooked thanks to the heat of the syrup, but you can brown them very lightly with a blowtorch, if you have one.

Dust your serving plate with cocoa and transfer the cake to the plate, finish the top of the cake with finely chopped candied chestnuts and flaked almonds.


Amy Marsden

By Amy Marsden on 12.12.14

Guest Contributor

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