Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Chocolate Fruit Cake - for Christmas!
As we head into October, it's time to start thinking about.... I can't bear to say the word.... yep, Christmas!
I'm one of those who truly does leave everything to the last minute, shopping, baking and menus. But this year, I was contacted by Morrisons - the large supermarket chain - asking if I would like to join other bloggers and make a Christmas cake. The idea is to encourage their customers to bake their own cake, whether it be a traditional fruit and nut one, or something a bit different like my own chocolate fruit cake.
Making your own Christmas cake is easy if you get all your measured ingredients together first, the nuts roasted and the fruit chopped - remembering to marinate the fruit overnight. A little bit of mixing and your cake will be ready to pop into the oven. Your house will smell heavenly and if you feed the cake every week with some alcohol to stop it drying out, you will be rewarded with a moist, rich cake.
Marinating the fruit
My husband adores traditional fruit cakes, but I am less tempted with all the mixed peel and glace fruits, which is why I came up with this chocolate version. The beauty of this cake is that you can play around with the fruit, substituting the cherries with cranberries for example. You can swap the nuts for your favourite kind and even change the brandy to rum if you want. For those who prefer not to use alcohol, you can substitute apple juice when preparing the mixture. If using apple juice, the cake can then be well wrapped and frozen for up to three months, defrosting the day before you want to decorate and serve it. The nuts can be roasted and chopped the day before - make sure you keep an eye on them while they are roasting in the oven, they can easily burn.
Another great thing about this cake is that you don't need to make it this far in advance, a month or even a week before will still be adequate.
If you want to make the traditional Christmas fruit cake, head over to the Morrisons website for their recipe, which is just as easy to make and looks quite delicious! There's also a large database of recipes to browse, including seasonal recipes and healthy eating tips.
Thanks to Morrisons for sending a box of delicious cake ingredients to get me started
Chopping the nuts
Adding the fruit and nuts to the large bowl
Followed by the chopped chocolate
Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake
A different kind of fruit cake, studded with nuts, dried fruit and chocolate. One of the nice things about this recipe is that you can make substitutions to your liking - for example, swap the dried cherries for dried cranberries or apricots, sultanas for raisins, almonds for pecans and brandy for rum.
Instead of the traditional marzipan and thick fondant icing, I used white chocolate to cover the top of the cake, made some fondant snowflakes and sprinkled with edible glitter.
75g dried cherries (or cranberries)
75g sultanas (or raisins)
175ml brandy (or rum)
50g flaked almonds
100g whole macadamia nuts
100g whole blanched almonds
300g good dark chocolate, roughly chopped (or you can use half milk chocolate and half plain chocolate)
125g unsalted butter, softened
50g caster sugar
100g plain flour
175g ground almonds
450g clear runny honey
1 tablespoon apricot conserve
Extra brandy to pour over cake
Soak the dried cherries and the sultanas in a bowl along with the brandy for at least one hour or preferably overnight.
Set the oven to 14oºC and line a 23cm (9") deep cake tin with baking parchment. A spring form tin or one with a removable bottom is ideal.
Spread the flaked almonds, macadamia nuts and blanched almonds onto baking trays and roast in the oven until brown, about 5-8 minutes - keep an eye on them, they can easily burn. Let the nuts cool before chopping.
When the whole nuts are cool, chop them finely with a large knife on a chopping board. Don't chop the sliced almonds, they go in as they are.
Roughly chop the chocolate.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the flour and half of the ground almonds.
Add the honey to the marinating fruit, along with the apricot conserve. Stir well. Pour this mixture into the large bowl, along with all of the nuts (including the remaining ground almonds) and the chopped chocolate. Stir well until everything is incorporated.
Pour the cake mixture into the deep cake tin and bake for between 2 - 2½ hours. Keep an eye on the cake and test with a cake tester or a skewer until it comes out clean. You may need to cover the cake with some foil to stop it getting too brown. Leave the cake in the tin to cool.
Once cool, make a few holes in the top of the cake and pour over 3-4 tablespoons of brandy. You can do this a few more times to make the cake moist and rich before decorating.
The cake can be kept well wrapped for a few weeks in a cool dark place, feeding with the alcohol every so often, or it can be frozen for a couple of months.
Serve really thin slices as the cake is VERY rich!
Use a cutter to punch out perfect snowflakes - decorating made easy!
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