Some cakes are meant to be snacked on. Others are all about their richness and intensity. Almay Jordaan definitely had the latter in mind when creating this dark chocolate, citrus and tequila cake, topped with an equally memorable cocoa-nib ganache.

“It’s a pretty full-on dessert,” says the Old Palm Liquor chef and co-owner. “It’s dense and definitely designed for a whole group of people.”

Jordaan has previously served a different version of the cake at her Brunswick East wine bar and restaurant. Old Palm Liquor draws on her South African heritage, and there’s a natural focus in the kitchen on South African herbs and spice mixes. That background also came into play when Jordaan adapted this cake to include Don Julio Reposado tequila, inspired by her home country’s beloved brandy-rich desserts (such as the traditional Cape brandy pudding, or known colloquially as “tipsy tart”). Adding tequila to the already dark and rich cake brings out new citrus and caramel notes, which in turn showcase the chocolate and other ingredients.

“I’ve been playing with a lot of chocolate desserts,” she says. “The tequila works to make the [other] ingredients shine more, instead of it just being a chocolate cake.” She also finds that adding the spirit helps strengthen the cake’s structure.

As for what to pair with this gathering-friendly dessert, Jordaan reaches for Don Julio Reposado, a barrel-aged tequila famous for its mellow flavour and smooth finish.

“When I tasted the Reposado, I got raw cacao and some citrus notes,” Jordaan says. “I thought about a really nice dark chocolate and something with a rich, silky mouthfeel.”

She recommends making the cake the day before serving it, to allow the flavours to intensify. When it comes time to plate it up, slice the cake thinly and serve it at room temperature once your guests have had something savoury. You will need a benchtop mixer and a 20-centimetre springform tin lined with baking paper on the base and sides. When you’re making the cake at home, Jordaan suggests you don’t fold too much or too little air – which affects the structure of the finished dessert – into the mix. Instead, try to strike a balance, folding in the egg whites gently to making for “a neater cake”.

As for the tequila in the Paloma with a twist, she recommends serving the Reposado straight from the freezer in pre-chilled glasses, creating a vivid contrast with the blood orange soda and rich, chocolatey cake.

“It just won’t be the same if you don’t prep the tequila ahead of time,” she says. “It’s designed to finish off a meal on a high.”’

Recipe: Don Julio Tequila and Blood Orange Paloma
Makes 1 serve. Approx. 1 standard drink

Ingredients 30ml Don Julio Reposado
150ml Fevertree blood orange soda
Wedge of orange to garnish
Teaspoon of sea salt

Method
Rim half a tall highball glass with sea salt. Assemble all ingredients with plenty of ice. Garnish with a wedge of orange.

Dark chocolate, citrus and tequila cake with cocoa-nib ganache
Yields 14 thin slices
Preparation and cooking time: 65 minutes (including cooling)

Ingredients
250g 70% dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
120g butter, chopped into small pieces
½ tsp vanilla paste
zest of 1 navel orange
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
1 tsp sea-salt flakes
3 tbsp Don Julio Reposado tequila
6 eggs
80g raw caster sugar

Ganache
130g cream
70g 70% dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Method
Preheat oven to 170°C. Melt chocolate and butter together in short bursts in a microwave, or in a bowl over gently simmering water on the stovetop. It’s crucial that the mixture just melts together and doesn’t overheat. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, citrus zests, salt and tequila.

Separate eggs and beat yolks with 60g of the caster sugar until thick and creamy, then gently stir into the chocolate mix. Wash and dry the mixing bowl and whisk. Add egg whites, whisk on medium speed to soft peaks and add the remaining 20g of caster sugar. Continue whisking on medium for 2 minutes until you have a glossy foam. Gently fold this into the chocolate, resisting the urge to overmix. Pour batter into cake tin and bake at 170°C for 25 minutes.

The finished cake will still be a bit wobbly in the centre. Cool on a cake rack for 5 minutes and then release the springform-tin ring before cooling further.

When the cake is cool, gently bring the cream to the boil, remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate pieces to make the ganache. Pour ganache over the cake and sprinkle cocoa nibs over ganache. Cut thin slices with a hot knife and pair with a Don Julio Tequila and Blood Orange Paloma.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Don Julio. Drink responsibly.