Dense, chewy and dark – a peppery chocolate and nut cake from Umbria, also eaten throughout central Italy. Pepper takes a back seat here but still adds a slight touch of pungency.
Soak the sultanas in plenty of warm water until they plump up – about 20 minutes. Roughly chop the nuts and candied peel. Break the chocolate into bite-sized pieces. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas 3.
Measure the honey into a heavy-based saucepan and warm over a low heat. Add the chocolate, butter and sugar and stir until melted. Stir in the cocoa, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
Drain the sultanas and add to the pan along with the nuts and candied peel. By now the mixture will be getting very stiff so slacken it with the hot water. Sprinkle in the flour,
Tip the dough onto a non-stick baking tray and press into a circle, using a wet palette knife. Slice the circle into six segments. When cool enough to handle, mould each segment into a ball, then flatten into cakes about 2.5cm/1in thick and 8cm/3¼in wide.
Bake for 20–25 minutes or until firm. Remove from the oven and leave for 5 minutes, then put the cakes on a wire rack to cool completely.
© 2008 Christine McFadden. All rights reserved.