Ricotta cake with amaretto raisins and chocolate ganache

Helen Goh's panettone inspired cake with chocolate ganache.
Helen Goh's panettone inspired cake with chocolate ganache. Photo: William Meppem

Making panettone is notoriously time-consuming and complex. Even for the most dedicated of us, achieving the soft, buttery texture is no mean feat. Fortunately the flavours – rich in raisin, citrus and vanilla – can be captured successfully in a cake. For best results, steep the raisins in the amaretto overnight, then strain and save the liqueur to whisk into the chocolate ganache.


100g raisins

50g candied citron or mixed peel (optional), finely chopped

50ml amaretto

150g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

⅛ tsp salt

80g almond meal

125g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature

250g castor sugar

zest of 1 large orange

zest of 2 limes

4 large eggs, room temperature

250g ricotta

1 tbsp vanilla essence

For the chocolate ganache

100g dark chocolate (70 per cent), finely chopped

100ml pure cream

1 tsp unsalted butter

amaretto (from macerating fruit)

20g candied citron (optional), finely chopped, for garnishing


1. Place the raisins and candied citron or mixed peel (if using) in a small bowl and add the amaretto. Leave to macerate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes (or even better, overnight), stirring gently whenever you remember to.

2. Grease and line the base and sides of a 22cm round cake tin with baking paper and set aside.

3. Preheat the oven to 190C (170C fan-forced).

4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl, then stir in the almond meal to combine.

5. Place the butter, sugar and lime and orange zests in the bowl of a cake mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until combined – the mix will not be very light or fluffy as there is quite a small amount of butter relative to sugar, but it does need to be well mixed.

6. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the bottom of the bowl regularly with a rubber spatula to ensure there are no lumps. Add the ricotta and vanilla essence, and beat on low-medium speed until incorporated.

7. Strain the macerating dried fruit – save the amaretto to use in the chocolate ganache later – and add the fruit to the ricotta mixture. Mix for a few seconds, then add the sifted dry ingredients. Beat on low speed until just combined, and give the bowl a final scrape to ensure the batter has been evenly mixed.

8. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a cake rack for 30 minutes before removing the cake from the tin onto a serving plate.

9. In the meantime, make the ganache by placing the chopped chocolate into a medium heat-proof bowl. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and place over medium heat until it just begins to simmer, then remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Allow to stand for 30 seconds, then add butter and whisk to combine. Finally, add the reserved amaretto and whisk again until smooth. Spread the ganache on top of the cake and garnish with the citron if desired.