Italian Christmas Pudding Cake

Nigella Lawson demonstrates how to make the perfect Italian Christmas Pudding Cake.

Italian Christmas Pudding Cake

With all the liqueur, chocolate and mascarpone involved here, you’d think it would be unbearably rich: instead, it is curiously elegant.

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  • Approx. 625g panettone (or pandoro)
  • 6 x 15 ml tablespoons Tuaca liqueur (can use rum, brandy or Grand Marnier)
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 500g mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 250ml double cream, at room temperature
  • 125ml Marsala
  • 75g pieces marrons glaces
  • 125g mini (or regular) chocolate chips, or finely chopped chocolate
  • 100g pistachio nuts, chopped
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons pomegranate seeds


  • 1 x 22 or 23cm springform cake tin

Preparation method

Using a serrated knife, cut the panettone roughly into 1cm slices, then use about a third of these to line the bottom of the springform tin. Tear off pieces to fit so that there are no gaps: panettone is fabulously soft and mouldable, so this isn’t a hard job. Drizzle two tablespoons of the Tuaca (or other liqueur of choice) over it so that the panettone lining is dampened. It looks like a beautiful golden patchwork made out of cake.

Now get on with the luscious filling. Whisk – using a freestanding electric mixer for ease – the eggs and sugar until very frothy and increased in volume and lightness.

More slowly, whisk in the mascarpone and double cream, then gradually whisk in the Marsala and carry on whisking until the mixture is thick and spreadable. Remove 250ml (a good cupful) to a bowl or other container, cover and put in the fridge: this is for the top layer, which is not added until you serve the cake.

Crumble the marrons glaces into the big bowl of mascarpone cream mixture, followed by 100g of the chocolate chips and 75g of the chopped pistachios, and fold in. Use half of this creamy filling to top the panettone layer that is lining the cake tin.

Use another third (approx.) of the panettone slices to cover the cream filling, again leaving no holes for the cream to escape through. Dampen with another 2 tablespoons of liqueur.

Spoon on the other half of the cream mixture and spread it evenly. Then top with a third and final layer of panettone, covering the cream as before, and drizzle over it the last 2 tablespoons of liqueur.

Cover tightly with clingfilm, pressing down on the top a little, and put in the fridge overnight or for up to 2 days.

When you are ready to serve, take the cake out of the fridge, unmould and sit it on a flat plate or cake stand, then spread with the reserved mascarpone mixture. Don’t try to lift the cake off the base, as the panettone slices at the bottom are too delectably damp.

Scatter the top – and all around the cake, if wished – with the remaining chocolate chips and chopped pistachios and your pomegranate ‘jewels’. These sprinklings also provide beauteous camouflage for any less than aesthetically uplifting edges of the springform base which may be visible.

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