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  • Writer's pictureSpiced Cranachan

Cardamom Chocolate Cake with Bergamot Ganache

For when you're in the mood for comfort food but fancy something a little different...

I always love making this dessert. Its a great feeling, to be baking in the kitchen surrounded by chocolate and sugary aromas.

But adding a touch of spice takes it all to a whole other level.

Cardamom is used quite frequently in Indian cuisine, ranging from the spicy to the sweet. Growing up, my mother used to add it to rice pudding, which I suppose might be where I get my fondness for using this spice in sweet dishes.

In baking, cardamom pairs especially well with chocolate, with each ingredient bringing out the subtler tastes of the other.

I prefer to use whole cardamom pods and grind the seeds myself. Buying it pre-ground can often reduce the flavour to some extent and dull the overall effect of the spice - which is definitely something we are aiming to avoid.

I used a dark chocolate for this recipe, one which isn't too sweet and has a relatively low cocoa percentage. While the richer dark chocolates are certainly delicious, they do have a more dominating taste, which would make the cake a little too overwhelming.

Its my personal preference to chop the chocolate by hand. Apart from this being incredibly satisfying and somewhat cathartic, it also gives the dish a more rustic and natural appearance. This method is great for giving you a nice range of textures throughout the cake and it allows you to control the percentage of cocoa being used.

I do have a little confession to make about the ganache: while there certainly is bergamot present, I don't use any bergamot fruit in the recipe. It's actually Earl Grey tea!

The distinct taste of Earl Grey tea comes from an extract taken from the rind of a bergamot orange. In fact, most teas or confectionery (such as Turkish delight) which feature bergamot as an ingredient, use rind oil as opposed to the actual fruit itself.

Bergamot is quite a bitter flavour, so I used chocolate for a base to counteract this while still allowing for the distinct spice to shine through. This adds an almost perfumed scent to the cake which plays nicely with the cardamom.

The cake is quite moist, so I would caution to wait until it is absolutely cooled before cutting in half. I can tell you from personal experience what it feels like to have this cake break before your eyes just as you near the finish line...

It's worth the extra patience, trust me.

It's also quite a nice dessert to have with a little cream on the side. It isn't too heavy (depending on the size of your slice, of course) but the cream does add a certain freshness. That being said, it's perfectly delicious all by itself too.

Don't forget to let me know how the recipe works out for you! I'd love to hear some of your spiced-baking adventures.




  • 7oz Softened Butter

  • 7oz Caster Sugar

  • 7oz Self-Raising Flour

  • 3 Medium Eggs

  • 1 tsp Baking Powder

  • 3 tbsp Cocoa Powder

  • 8 tbsp Water

  • 300g Chocolate (I used dark, 36%)

  • 10 Cardamom Pods, finely ground

  • 1/2 cup Loose Leaf Earl Grey

  • 200ml Double Cream

  • Confectioner's Sugar, to decorate


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease a 20cm x 5cm circular pan (or similar).

  2. Beat the sugar and butter together until pale yellow. Continue to beat while adding the eggs, one at a time, to the mixture. Sift in the flour and baking powder, and whisk until well incorporated.

  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the water and cocoa powder until there are no lumps. Add to the cake batter along with the cardamom.

  4. Roughly chop the chocolate and stir half of it into the cake batter. Set aside the rest of the chocolate for later.

  5. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted and extracted without any wet batter clinging to it (be careful not to mistake melted chocolate chips for wet batter). Set aside on a cooling rack.

  6. Meanwhile, add the cream to a small pan and set over a low heat. Add the tea and leave to diffuse, stirring occasionally to avoid burning.

  7. Break up the remaining chocolate and place the pieces in a heat-proof bowl. Pour boiling water into a pot and place the bowl inside, so that the water level comes just above the chocolate level. Take care not to let any water inside the bowl. Once melted, pour the warm cream into the chocolate through a fine mesh strainer, stirring constantly. Whisk if any lumps form. Allow to cool.

  8. Once the cake has cooled, slice horizontally through so you have two identical circles which form a 'sandwich.' Evenly spread half of the ganache on one slice, then place the remaining cake slice on top. Spread the remainder of the ganache on the top of the cake. Decorate with a sprinkle of icing sugar.


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