Chilli Chocolate Cake with Pistachio Crumb and Salted Caramel Sauce


Serves 8 ( or if your us a greedy 6!)

Prep Time – 30 mins maximum ( be organised and get everything out and weighed etc, this really does have a massive impact on how you cook, efficiency, getting it right, tidying up too!)

Cooking Time – 30 minutes ( for all the separate bits)


  • Either a good bowl and strong arms to mix everything or a food mixer ( I love my Kenwood Major I have had it for over 15 years so its a worthwhile investment but any Mixer or good old elbow grease works just darn fine! I actually have a battered old cupboard that I have all my electrical cooking items in, all plugged in ready to go, then afterwards cleaned and close doors- restore calm in my little kitchen )

baking cupboard

  • Sieve ( thinking of substitutes for this but cant think of one, they are cheap if you don’t have one and they are handy)
  • Scales- again I have had some cheap electric ones for years and also use my very old vintage scales I love them had them in Delicieux and they make cooking much more fun and converting everything back into ounces!

My Vintage Scales

  • Measuring spoons or guess work as I do most times! Teaspoons, etc
  • Greaseproof paper a lifesaver in baking for lining the cake tine
  • Pan a medium size
  • Grater (whatever style you have, or grater blade on your mixer )
  • Spice grinder ( a bit of a luxury but truly worth it save up for, otherwise a rolling pin and towel, or pestle and mortar, your mixer can do this too, anything to bash pistachios to crumbs!)


For the chocolate sponge

  • 250g self raising flour
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 50g dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 50ml milk
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp cacao, grated
  • 100g coco nibs or dark chocolate drops

For the salted caramel

  • 125g salted butter
  • 125ml double cream
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 banana ( this isn’t critical but does add a nice flavour , needs to be a small banana or can be overbearing, even add a splash of booze only for over 18s !)
  • 100g caster sugar

For the pistachio crumb

  • 150g pistachios, shelled
  • 30g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt

How to..

  1. First make the chocolate sponge. Line a 20 x 20cm cake tin with baking/greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 180˚C.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together at high speed with an electric whisk, then add the eggs one at a time,( crack your eggs into a separate bowl cup/glass)
  3. Next add the sieved flour, baking powder and cocoa powder, (then loosen the mixture with the milk so you have a batter like texture not too sloppy).
  4. Stir in the chocolate drops or coco nibs, grated cacao and chilli powder. Add a large pinch of salt and mix well. Pour everything into the prepared tray and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  5. You can test its cooked pop a cocktail stick, skewer, fork, knife in and pull out should come out clean
  6. To make the salted caramel sauce, put the sugar in a pan and heat gently over a medium heat until caramelised DO NOT STIR- shake and wiggle the pan, stirring will impact the caramel. . Once golden brown, add the banana, cream and vanilla seeds.
  7. Cook for 2 minutes until the banana is soft, then add a good pinch of salt and stir until smooth. If you get any lumpy bits of caramel pop on a low heat and it will melt again
  8. Use a grinder to grind the shelled pistachios, then add the sugar and grind once more. (If no grinder place between a clean tea towel and bash the heck out of it until crumbs, or put into your blender and whizz until crumbs)
  9. Tip everything into a frying pan and lightly toast for 2 minutes then set aside.
  10. To serve, cut the sponge cake into portions, then pour over the caramel sauce and sprinkle over the pistachio crumb. I like to put the crumb on top of each square it looks very pretty


  • I make a custard jelly , Creme Anglais Jelly,  which is easy to make 6 eggs , caster sugar (50g)  whisked together until very pale and fluffy , have cream(200ml)  and milk (200ml)  and vanilla pod in a pan and warm. Mix together with the eggs/sugar mix and then cook on a low heat until it thickens. Have 2 gelatine sheets in cold water once the custard has thickened slightly wont go really thick (its natural and not like Birds custard!) add the softened gelatine sheets mix until melted. Pour into jelly moulds, ice cube tray, or a flat tray lined with cling film -easy to remove then- and pop in freezer for quick set or fridge for setting in an hour or so 
  • You can also make a self saucing chocolate cake with chilli or not – same technique up-to point 4, then weigh 50g brown sugar, 50g coco powder mix together 200 ml boiling water. Sprinkle the cocoa and sugar mix evenly over the cake batter over then pour over the boiling water and cook at 180 for 40-45 minutes. We call this Topsy Turvy Pudding its great and a family favourite.

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