30 mins to 1 hour
1 to 2 hours
Rich chocolate cake is layered with gooey coffee and chestnut mousse and coated with soft meringue. A gloriously decadent treat.
For the chocolate cake, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Lightly grease and line the base of a 25cm/10in loose-bottomed cake tin.
Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl for 4-5 minutes, or until thick and pale.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a separate bowl then gently fold them into the egg and sugar mixture until just combined and stir in the melted butter.
Spoon the mixture into the cake tin, lightly smoothing over the top. Place the tin onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until the cake has risen and is springy to the touch. Remove from the oven, allow to cool briefly then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For the coffee mousse, place the cream, coffee and icing sugar into a bowl and whisk to soft peaks.
Beat the mascarpone in a bowl until very smooth then fold the cream mixture into the mascarpone until just combined.
For the chestnut mousse, place the mascarpone and chestnut purée into a small processor and blend until smooth.
Whip the double cream until soft peaks form then fold in the chestnut mixture until just combined.
For the Italian meringue, place the sugar and water into a pan and slowly bring to the boil until the syrup reaches 110C/230F on a sugar thermometer.
At this stage, whisk the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until firm peaks form when the whisk is removed.
Continue heating the sugar syrup and as soon as it reaches 121C/250F remove the pan from the heat.
Immediately resume whisking the egg whites with the beater at its lowest speed then pour in the sugar syrup in a steady stream. (CAUTION: Ensure the syrup is clear of the beaters to prevent it being splashed on your hands.)
Continue beating for about five minutes or until the meringue is tepid.
To assemble, cut the chocolate cake horizontally into five pieces, placing the bottom piece onto the serving plate.
Spoon over 1-2 tbsp of the brandy then spread over half the coffee mousse then scatter over a quarter of the crumbled meringue nests.
Place another piece of sponge on top, sprinkle with another 1-2 tbsp brandy then spread with half the chestnut mousse another quarter of the meringue.
Repeat these layers, finishing with a layer of sponge.
Spread the Italian meringue over the sides and top of the sponge stack, forking the meringue to make little peaks.
Using a blow torch, glaze the meringue until just golden-brown and garnish with holly.