making the grades – ‘fruit & nut’ chocolate cake

making the grades – ‘fruit & nut’ chocolate cake

Now that Halloween is over, did you satisfy your sweet tooth—or do you still have bags of individually wrapped bite-size candies waiting for you in a cabinet? Enough to make you slip into a sugar coma? Living in NYC, we don’t have kiddies ringing the doorbell for trick or treat, so we’re spared from having left over candy that we don’t want.

This is not to say that I don’t like a bite now and then. My favorite is of the British persuasion—Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut Chocolate Bar, a childhood favorite. The soft sweet raisins and the crunchy almonds work harmoniously with the chocolate.

The candy inspired this moist chocolate cake filled with fruit and nuts really brought out memories of my childhood. If I made good grades at school, I was rewarded with a trip to the grocery store to buy a dollar worth of candies. I can’t recall how much the Fruit & Nut bars cost back then, but I always came out with additional candies in the bag.


Fruit & Nut Chocolate Cake


  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon rum, brandy or water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1-1/4 cups raisins
  • 1 cup (4-1/2 ounces) slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 12 tablespoons (6 ounces/1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1-1/4 cups (8-3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream, room temperature
  • Dark Chocolate Ganache Glaze, recipe to follow
  • Milk Chocolate Pearls for decoration (optional)
Dark Chocolate Ganache Glaze
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) heavy whipped cream
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon dark rum or brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt


1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350℉. Spray a 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and lined pan with parchment paper, extend up both long sides to create a sling. spray parchment. Whisk espresso powder, rum and vanilla in a small bowl until espresso powder has dissolved. Add eggs, whisk to combine, set aside.

2. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, combine raisins, almonds and 1/4 cup of flour mixture, toss to combine, set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, add butter and sugar, beat on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Reduce speed to medium, add egg mixture, a little at a time, until incorporated.

4. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream (in 2 additions), beginning and ending with dry ingredients, and beating in each addition until barely combined. After final flour addition, beat for 15 seconds, add raisin/almond mixture and beat for another 10 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and finish folding batter with rubber spatula to fully combine.

5. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan and smooth top with small off-set spatula. Bake until until firm to touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean about 55-65 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool completely. Remove cake from pan, peel off parchment and return cake to rack placed over a sheet pan.

Dark Chocolate Ganache Glaze

1. Place chocolate in a bowl, set aside.

2. Add cream, corn syrup, rum, espresso powder, and salt in a small saucepan and bring it to a near boil over medium heat.  Remove from heat and pour hot cream mixture over chopped chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds. Gently whisk mixture until chocolate is completely melted and ganache is smooth.

3. Pour ganache over top of cake and let it run down the sides of the cake. Sprinkle chocolate pearls (if use) over top of ganache. Let cake set for 30 minutes before serving.