Christmas chocolate carrot cake

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

For the cake
200g carrots – peeled and finely grated
175g dark soft brown sugar
2 large eggs
150ml sunflower oil
200g wholemeal self-raising flour
3 teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
The grated zest of one orange
110g sultanas mixed with candied peel (you can buy mixed fruit bags from most good supermarkets)
50g desiccated coconut
100g dark chocolate with orange (most of the supermarkets sell an own-brand dark chocolate with orange – I’m using the Morrison’s Signature 72% cocoa dark chocolate with orange.)

For the syrup glaze
The juice of one medium orange
75g dark brown soft sugar
2 tablespoons Cointreau or Grand Marnier

For the cream cheese icing
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
500g icing sugar
400g full-fat cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the chocolate scrolls
150g bar of dark chocolate
2 pieces of greaseproof paper

Featured in:
December 2015

I have to confess that I’m not a huge fan of the traditional Christmas cake or Christmas pudding. I find them both quite heavy, especially at the end of one of the year’s richest and most extravagant meals. What’s really funny is that I love all the individual elements but just not how they appear at Christmas lunch, so I wanted to take all the best bits from the traditional cake and pud and make my own, lighter version. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still quite naughty and has the added booze element but in my mind there’s something a little less Victorian about it. The carrot cake won’t keep for as long as your traditional Christmas cake but it will freeze well, undecorated.

Grease and line two 20cm round cake tins. Pre-heat the oven to 170C.

Whisk the sugar, eggs and oil together in a bowl with an electric whisk for 3 minutes. Now stir in the flour, mixed spice and bicarb with a rubber spatula and once combined add the rest of the cake ingredients and gently fold in. Gently melt the chocolate and then fold this in too.

Divide the batter evenly between the cake tins and bake the cakes for 30 mins. They should come out nice and golden and a skewer inserted should come out clean.

Meanwhile, make the glaze by heating the ingredients gently in a pan or the microwave. Then, when the cakes come out of the oven, prick them all over with a skewer and gently pour the glaze over both cakes. Set aside to cool completely in their tins.

For the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until light and smooth, for about five minutes. Add the vanilla extract. Slowly beat in the icing sugar until combined, then increase the speed and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the cream cheese until just combined. Do not over-beat at this stage or the frosting will be too thin.

To make the chocolate shards, lay a large sheet of greaseproof paper on your work surface, then simply melt the chocolate gently in a pan and pour out onto the paper. Lay another piece of paper on top and gently spread out with your hands, then roll the paper up into a tube and pop it in the fridge for 30 mins. When you’re ready to decorate, unroll the paper and the chocolate will crack into shards, which you can scatter on top of the cake.

To assemble the cake, put a layer of cake on a serving plate. Spread a layer of frosting on top of the cake and put the second cake layer on top, then spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.

Decorate how you please but a sprinkling of chocolate shavings and some edible gold leaf will make the whole cake look frosty and Christmassy.

Eat and of course, enjoy and a very Merry Christmas!

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