Recipes -


Serves 8

250g sponge cake 

150ml-250ml brandy (or to taste)

4 large eggs
100g caster sugar 

150g dark chocolate 
4 tbsp hot espresso coffee (optional)

80g butter 

4 tbsp freeze-dried raspberries 
250ml double cream
1 punnet each of fresh raspberries, blueberries and/or strawberries (saving some to decorate the top)
Cut thin slices of sponge cake to fit the base of a large dish or tin (I use a baking dish 17cm x 25cm), pushing them in like pieces of a jigsaw. Use half of the cake and reserve half for the second layer. Pour over half the brandy or sherry, just enough to moisten the crumb of the cake.

Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a bowl with the sugar, and whisk til thick and creamy.

Break the chocolate into pieces and put it, together with the coffee, in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Avoid stirring, but leave the chocolate to melt, occasionally pushing any solid pieces under the surface with a spoon. Remove the pan from the heat, add the butter cut into small pieces and gently stir it in.

Crush the freeze-dried raspberries to a coarse powder with a rolling pin or the back of a spoon. Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Beat the egg whites til almost stiff then fold them into the chocolate mixture with a large, metal spoon (this works better than using a wooden spoon).

Pour half of the mousse on top of the sponge in the dish. Sprinkle over half of the raspberry powder and half the fresh berries.

Place the reserved pieces of sponge cake over the chocolate mousse, spooning over more of the reserved brandy/sherry. Spoon the remaining half of the mousse on top of the sponge. Cover and place in the fridge for four hours.

To finish, whip the cream until thick enough to sit in soft mounds - stop well before it can stand up in stiff peaks. Spoon the cream over the sponge and decorate as you wish. I use the remaining berries and anything else that takes my fancy and looks festive. Return to the fridge for 20 minutes, then serve.

Merry Christmas