Chocolate cake with damson syrup

Serves 10

Rich, dark and bitter, this cake is not for the faint-hearted. It is distinctly grown-up, especially when a little damson syrup is spooned over the top to add its particular tart sweetness. One small slice is all that you will need.

6 large eggs
250g/8oz butter, softened
250/8oz caster sugar
250g/8oz whole blanched almonds
250g/8oz dark bitter chocolate

For the damson syrup

1kg/2lb damsons, washed well
150g/5oz caster sugar
Enough water to just cover the fruit
Small pinch of salt

Heat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas3. Butter a 10-inch cake tin with a removable bottom and line with parchment paper. Separate the eggs, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then add the egg yolks one by one.

Place the almonds into a food processor and pulse until fine. Finely grate in the chocolate and pulse once more. It is important that both the chocolate and the almonds are the same consistency. Fold the almonds and chocolate into the eggs and sugar and set aside while you whisk the egg whites until stiff. Now fold the whites into the almond mixture, a third at a time. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake~on the middle shelf of the oven for one hour, or until the cake is just firm in the centre when pressed lightly with your fingers.

While the cake is cooking, make the damson syrup. Place the fruit in a saucepan along with the sugar, water and salt and place over a medium heat. Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the damsons are soft and bursting, and the encasing liquid is dark and syrupy. Remove from the heat and pass through a strainer, pressing as you do so to pass through as much fruit as possible while leaving the stones behind.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before serving with the syrup (and cream if desired).

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