DARK CHOCOLATE, PISTACHIO & DRIED CHERRY TORTE
Dried cherries are one of my favourite dried fruits; sour, sweet and wilfully chewy, their inclusion here along with pistachios, cardamon and chocolate is spot on. What makes this cake especially clever is how the cake batter behaves as it bakes. On the bottom you get a good crunchy base, and the remaining half of the base is then mixed through with the sour cream and egg to bake as a soft and cake-y top, all studded with nuts, cherries and chocolate. Serve with crème fraîche or sour cream.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F/Gas 4.
Line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper.
Combine the sugar, spices and flour with the pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl. Rub in the butter using your fingertips, until you have a sandy texture. (Alternatively, you can do this bit in a food processor, pulsing until you have the right texture.) Tip half the mixture into a separate bowl and stir in the cocoa.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake tin and press down slightly to form an even base.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, baking powder and egg. Add this to the remaining flour mixture, then stir in the chocolate, pistachios and dried cherries, and pour the whole lot over the pressed base.
Sprinkle the mixture with the 2 tablespoons of sugar.
Bake for 40 minutes, until golden on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow the torte to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and slice.
130g (4¾oz) light brown soft sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamon
100g (3½oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
pinch of salt
50g (1¾oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
120ml (4fl oz) sour cream, plus extra to serve
½ teaspoon baking powder
80g (2¾oz) dark (bittersweet) chocolate, finely chopped, or use the same weight of dark chocolate buttons
40g (1½oz) shelled pistachios or
40g (1½oz) dried cherries