How to make Montezuma’s chocolate and hazelnut cake

A chocolate cake that looks as good as it tastes – though if you get around to decorating it before cutting a slice, you've more will power than we have.

Wandering through the Lanes in Brighton some years ago — two decades ago, almost unbelievably — I happened across a little chocolate shop calling itself Montezuma’s. Full of bizarre and unusual combinations it was hard not to be impressed, if not a little shocked: chocolate with chilli? What the…?

Today, unusual chocolate flavours didn’t really exist as they do now. Your choice was more or less a straight shoot-out between Cadbury’s and something from the Continent. Now, of course, posh chocolate — or artisan chocolate, as it usually gets labelled — is everywhere and while we still love a bar of Dairy Milk, the world is a better place for it.

Montezuma’s themselves have moved on too, turning that shop in Sussex into a successful business. They’ve also been delving into research about the future of chocolate, celebrating their 20th anniversary by funding a report by a ‘food anthropologist’ (now there’s a job…) by the name of Caroline Hobkinson, who worked with Professor Charles Spence and Dr Thompson Bell from Leeds University.

So what does the chocolate of the future look like? Apparently we’ll ‘actively pursue chocolate which delivers happiness using nostalgia, mood, wellness, health, environmental awareness and the senses’.  We’ll also be keen on chocolate made with plant-based milks, and that uses healthier ingredients such as ginger, kefir and ‘matcha’, a sort of green tea powder.

Montezuma’s test kitchens are starting to play around with new ideas already. ‘It’s definitely food for thought,’ says Debbie Epstein. ‘We will start seeking out the most interesting and exciting ingredients from around the world and marry them together with the best chocolate we can find.’

And for those who wait that long but still need a chocolate fix? They’ve shared this chocolate cake recipe that they came up with together with caterers Kemp Kitchen and florist Carla Gottlieb, who picked out the edible flowers on top.

Recipe: Montezuma’s chocolate and hazelnut flourless cake

Ingredients

Serves 8-10

  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 180g of dark chocolate (such as 2x90g bars Montezuma Fitzroy 74% dark chocolate)
  • 400g roasted hazelnuts
  • 5 eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1⁄2 tsp sea salt
  • Cocoa, to dust
  • Calendulas, pansies, roses and abutilon petals for decoration (optional, but edible)

Method

Preheat the oven to 160C/ 140C fan/320F/ gas mark 3. Grease and line a 23cm/9 inch round cake tin with baking parchment.

Break the chocolate into pieces and melt with butter together in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water — make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Once melted transfer to a large mixing bowl to cool.

Blitz the hazelnuts in a food processor until you have fine crumbs; be careful not to blitz for too long as eventually they will come together and turn into a nut butter. Once blitzed add to the chocolate mixture.

Separate the egg whites and yolks into two bowls. Whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar until fluffy and pale, then fold into the chocolate mixture.

Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and then gently fold this into the chocolate mixture too, adding a pinch of sea salt.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes. You want the cake to still be soft and gooey in the middle.

Leave to cool in the tin and dust with cocoa powder before removing. Decorate with the petals if and serve with something tart, like greek yogurt or crème fraîche.