Sunken Chocolate Amaretto Cake

A gluten-free Sunken Chocolate Amaretto Cake served with whipped cream and amaretti biscuits. Easy to make and perfect for entertaining.

nigella sunken chocolate amaretto cake on metal tray

Amaretto Cake

If you have been following my Instagram Stories, you will have noticed that I have made this Sunken Chocolate Amaretto Cake no less than three times in the last month – it is that good!

At first, I was hesitant to try a new chocolate cake recipe, especially since my go-to birthday cake is my all-time favourite Sour-Cream Chocolate Cake, whilst my mother-in-law’s Queen of Sheba flourless chocolate cake is what I make most frequently when we have friends coming over.

nigella sunken chocolate amaretto cake with amaretto biscuits

Nigella Lawson Recipe

But after watching Nigella Lawson make this cake from her latest cookbook, At My Table, I felt a sudden urge to add another liqueur to our drinks cabinet, for which I am sure my husband has been quietly thankful (he finished off the bottle of Amaretto within a matter of days!).

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

In addition, I have been on a mission to find more gluten-free recipes to add to my repertoire.

We have a good friend who has coeliac disease, and whilst I am sure he has no complaints about the many pavlovas I have served to him for dessert over the years, my range of gluten-free recipes is pretty limited.

nigella sunken chocolate amaretto cake sliced with cream

Chocolate Amaretto Cake

At first glance, this Sunken Chocolate Amaretto Cake is quite similar to the Queen of Sheba which I have been making for years.

But what I found intriguing was that, instead of separating the eggs and whisking the egg whites separately to give the cake air and volume (which you need to do with the Queen of Sheba), you simply whisk the eggs together whole for a long time until they are light and mousse-like in texture.

So, in effect, it is much easier and quicker to make than my trusty Queen of Sheba.

nigella sunken chocolate amaretto cake sliced with cream and crushed amaretto biscuits

How to Make a Sunken Chocolate Amaretto Cake

This recipe requires you to whisk the eggs until they are pale and frothy; by this stage, they should have nearly tripled in volume.

The mousse-like texture of the cake batter is what helps the cake to rise, as there are no raising agents in this recipe.

However, as the law of gravity dictates, what goes up must come down. Hence, that is why this is called a Sunken Chocolate Amaretto Cake. As the cake cools, it will start to deflate a little and may even crack on the surface. This is completely normal.

It is a fairly rich cake in that it uses real melted chocolate in the batter. As I do quite a lot of baking at home, I bought a bain-marie some years ago, specifically for melting chocolate. It has turned out to be a wonderful investment because I frequently use the small saucepan in cooking, and I have been rather surprised by how often I use the bain-marie in my everyday cooking.

A bain-marie is essentially a bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water. What is important is that the bowl should never be in contact with the water underneath. The steam from the simmering water underneath is what heats up the bowl to warm whatever ingredient it is holding.

So if you don’t have a special bain-marie like that pictured below, simply use a glass or metal bowl which can sit over a saucepan with a slightly narrower width.

How to Serve a Sunken Chocolate Amaretto Cake

What really sold me about this recipe was not so much the cake itself, but the gorgeous whipped cream with crushed amaretti biscuits which is served alongside.

There is something heavenly about the combination of the crunchy amaretti biscuit crumbs, the softly whipped cream, and the velvety chocolate cake.

Nigella suggests mixing the amaretti biscuits crumbs through the whipped cream, but I prefer to add them at the last minute to ensure that they remain lovely and crunchy.

Besides, if you are also planning to serve small glasses of Amaretto liqueur with the cake, you will want some extra amaretti biscuits for dipping!

nigella sunken chocolate amaretto cake with glass of amaretto liqueur

More Chocolate Cake Recipes

Here are some more chocolate cake recipes you might enjoy:

Easy Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Coconut Cake

Chocolate Pound Cake

Marble Bundt Cake

Queen of Sheba Cake (Reine de Saba)

Salted Butter Chocolate Cake

Sour-Cream Chocolate Cake

Ultimate Chocolate Cake

nigella sunken chocolate amaretto cake

Sunken Chocolate Amaretto Cake

5 from 4 reviews

  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian

A gluten-free Sunken Chocolate Amaretto Cake served with whipped cream and amaretti biscuits. Easy to make and perfect for entertaining.


For the cake

For the cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (without fan).
  2. Line a 20 cm (8 inch) springform cake pan with baking paper and butter the sides.
  3. Place the chocolate and butter into a bain-marie (or a double-boiler or a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water), and melt over low heat. Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Using a stand mixer or an electric hand whisk, whisk the eggs and sugar on medium to high speed until the mixture is pale and mousse-like. The mixture should have nearly tripled in volume by this stage.
  5. Slowly mix through the ground almonds, cocoa powder, Amaretto liqueur, and melted chocolate mixture. The consistency of the batter should be similar to a raw chocolate mousse.
  6. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan.
  7. Bake the cake for about 25 minutes, or until a cake skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Unfortunately, a cake skewer will leave a hole in your cake and may even cause the top of the cake to crack. I would suggest giving the cake pan a gentle shake – if the centre of the cake wobbles, you will need to bake for another 5 minutes or so. I would use a cake skewer only as the last step.
  8. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack.
  9. Carefully remove the cooled cake to a serving plate or cake stand. The cake is likely to crack during this process, if it hasn’t already done so upon cooling.
  10. Generously dust some cocoa powder onto the cake using a fine sieve.
  11. To make the cream, whisk the double cream with the Amaretto liqueur until it has thickened with soft peaks.
  12. Place the whipped cream into a small serving bowl and crumble over some crushed amaretti biscuits to decorate.
  13. To serve, place a generous spoonful of whipped cream alongside a slice of cake, and allow guests to crumble more amaretti biscuits onto the cream.
  14. It is also not a bad idea to serve some small glasses of Amaretto liqueur alongside.

Kitchen Notes

If you don’t have Amaretto, you could substitute with any other liqueur such as Frangelico, Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or rum. For a non-alcoholic version, simply replace the alcohol in the cake batter with 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

To make a larger and slightly thinner cake, use a 23 cm (9 inch) springform cake pan and bake for approx 20 mins or until a cake skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

The cake can be made ahead of time and keeps well on a covered cake stand. The whipped cream can be made a few hours ahead of time and kept covered in the fridge. However, whipped cream is always best when it is freshly made.

Recipe adapted from At My Table by Nigella Lawson

All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.

To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.


  • Serving Size: Serves 4 to 6
  • Calories: 494
  • Sugar: 33.3g
  • Sodium: 62.4mg
  • Fat: 30.9g
  • Carbohydrates: 38.8g
  • Fiber: 3.1g
  • Protein: 10.8g
  • Cholesterol: 169.5mg

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment below and share your photos by tagging @eatlittlebird on Instagram and using #eatlittlebird


This recipe was first published on 28 January 2018. It has been updated with new photos and more comprehensive recipe notes.

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  1. Gisele Doucet 30 January 2018

    If we don’t have almonds to grind, can we just use almond flour?

    • Eat, Little Bird 30 January 2018

      I would suggest using ground almonds (or almond meal) or perhaps even ground hazelnuts (hazelnut meal) in this recipe. From my understanding, almond flour is much finer in texture (like a normal flour), and this will give the cake a different texture.

  2. Dani 31 January 2018

    It looks incredible and rich and so so chocolatey! YUM! When its not so hot here and I’m allowed to turn the oven back on this will have to be made asap!

    • Eat, Little Bird 11 February 2018

      Hi Dani,
      I highly recommend this cake! It’s worth making in any weather 😉 Hope you will enjoy the recipe.

  3. Geoff 9 February 2018

    Would this recipe work just as well using Frangelico instead of Amaretti?
    I would substitute ground hazelnuts for ground almonds.

    • Eat, Little Bird 9 February 2018

      Hi Geoff,
      Absolutely! You could substitute the Amaretto for any liqueur like Frangelico, Cointreau, or even rum. And you could also use ground hazelnuts in place of ground almonds – I frequently do this in many recipes and don’t notice any change in taste. Hope you will enjoy this recipe!

      • Geoff 11 February 2018

        Made for my dinner party last night using Frangelico as suggested and my guests were blown away so this will be top of my list next time. Many thanks Thanh

        • Eat, Little Bird 11 February 2018

          Oh that’s excellent to hear! This recipe has also been a big hit with our friends and family, and I know I will be top of my list too 🙂

  4. Lorine 21 March 2018

    How far ahead can you make this cake

    • Eat, Little Bird 21 March 2018

      I’ve made this cake the night before and it was perfect for serving the next day. Simply leave it in the cake tin in a cool place (not the fridge). It also keeps well for a few days on a covered cake stand. Hope you will enjoy this recipe!

  5. Julia 16 April 2018

    Wow Looks beautiful and tasty! Cannot wait to try this! Love!

  6. Sharn Easton 23 November 2018

    Hi, I really enjoyed this cake and would like to know if it can this be frozen?

    • Eat, Little Bird 25 November 2018

      Hello Sharn,
      I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of experience freezing cakes. But according to the notes in Nigella’s cookbook for this recipe, you can wrap the cake in a double layer of cling film and a layer of foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. She also suggests freezing the cake on the springform base for extra protection. To defrost the cake, unwrap and leave the cake on a wire rack at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours. I hope this helps!

  7. Elisa 21 December 2018

    I Just made this beautiful cake. I used almond flour and it turned out great.

  8. Linda 30 March 2019

    Hi Thanh, made this delicious cake yesterday, tasted it today. I had to use dairy-free spread as my son’s lactose intolerant but was was gorgeous. A hit in our house! Thanks

    • Eat, Little Bird 30 March 2019

      Hi Linda,
      So glad you enjoyed this recipe! I have made this cake many times and it is a favourite with our friends and family. That’s great to know that it worked well with a dairy-free spread. A good recipe is often a versatile one!

  9. Joshua 13 January 2020

    Is it best to use a spring form cake tin when making this?

    • Eat, Little Bird 21 January 2020

      Hi Joshua,
      A spring form cake tin will help you to remove the cake more easily. The top of the cake is prone to cracking, so I would recommend a spring form cake tin for this recipe. Hope you will enjoy the recipe!

  10. Elisa Stanfield 4 April 2020

    I made this for the second time. Truly amazing! An elegant cake!

  11. Peter Balmat 27 December 2021

    We made this cake today.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Peter and Beth Balmat
    Costa Rica

    • Eat, Little Bird 6 January 2022

      Thank you so much! So glad you enjoyed this recipe. It’s one of my favourites to make when entertaining.