275 g butter , at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
275 g light brown sugar
3 large free-range eggs
100 g ground almonds
175 g self-raising flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
150 ml milk
white chocolate , to serve
CHAI SYRUP & BUTTERCREAM
1 tablespoon cardamom pods
5 chai tea bags
100 g light brown sugar
100 g butter , at room temperature
200 g icing sugar
100 g cream cheese
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First make a chai syrup. Crack 4 of the cardamom pods and pop them in a pan with the chai tea bags and 1 pinch of cracked black pepper. Add water to cover, bring to the boil, then simmer for 4 minutes.
Strain, discarding the tea and spices, then pour the liquid back into the pan with the light brown sugar.
Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until you have a thick syrup. Take it off the hob and cool.
Preheat your oven to 180ºC/gas 4. Grease and line the base of two 20cm cake tins and set aside.
To make the sponge, crack the remaining cardamom pods, and put the seeds in a pestle and mortar (discard the shells). Grind them into a fine powder and set aside.
Break up the chocolate and melt half in the microwave for a few seconds and leave to one side.
Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale. Beat in the eggs one at a time, stir in the almonds, then fold through the flour, cocoa, baking powder, crushed cardamom seeds and ½ teaspoon of fine sea salt.
Finally, stir in the milk and melted chocolate until combined.
Divide the mix between the tins and bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until firm and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and leave in the tins for 5 minutes, before taking them out to cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, finish the filling. Place the butter in a bowl and beat in the icing sugar and 2 tablespoons of the chai syrup (or enough to give it a lovely flavour) until smooth. Stir in the cream cheese to make a smooth buttercream.
For the topping, melt the remaining chocolate plus a knob of butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, until silky.
To assemble the sandwich, place one of the cakes on a plate and spread it with the chai buttercream. Top with the second cake and finish by drizzling over the dark chocolate glaze and shaving over some white chocolate, to serve.