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Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Chocolate Fruit Cake - for Christmas!

Chocolate Christmas Cake 5525 R

As we head into October, it's time to start thinking about.... I can't bear to say the word.... yep, Christmas!

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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.

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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.

Morrisons fruit cake ingredients 5444 R
Thanks to Morrisons for sending a box of delicious cake ingredients to get me started

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Chopping the nuts

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Adding the fruit and nuts to the large bowl

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Followed by the chopped chocolate

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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
3 eggs
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!

(Printable Recipe)

icing snowflake 5517 R
Use a cutter to punch out perfect snowflakes - decorating made easy!

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This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2009 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Goodbye to Summer with Mini Pavlovas

One of the easiest ways to enjoy the last of the summer berries is to plonk them onto a pavlova. The meringue in this recipe is for softer, chewy, melting meringues, rather than the crisp dry ones that you would use for something like frozen meringue creams.

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Individual Summer Berry Pavlova
Adapted from The Best of Sainsbury's Desserts

Makes one large or 6 mini pavlovas

4 large egg whites
250g/8oz caster sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 teaspoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:
300ml/10 fl oz double cream
Summer fruits of your choice - sliced if wanted

Using a clean, large bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff.

Add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking until the meringue is very stiff.

Whisk in the cornflour, vinegar and the vanilla extract.

To make a large pavlova, pile the meringue onto a baking sheet that has been lined with non-stick baking parchment and spread into 23cm/9" round. Hollow out the centre slightly with a spoon.
For mini pavlovas, spoon or pipe 6 small circles of meringue onto a lined baking sheet, indenting the middles.

Bake the meringue in a pre-heated oven 15oºC/300ºF/Gas Mark 2, for about 1½ hours. Cool, remove the baking parchment and place onto a serving dish.

Whip the cream until stiff, then fold in some of the fruit before spooning onto the meringue base. Decorate with the remaining fruit.

Printable Recipe

Mini Pavlova 5276 R

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This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2009 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Mirabelle Jam for A Taste of Yellow

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Serve with scones and clotted cream

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I'm pleased to be participating in A Taste of Yellow, an event where food bloggers from around the world are invited to contribute a yellow dish, or drink, to raise awareness of cancer issues worldwide. The event is being hosted by Barbara of Winos and Foodies, in support for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

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This year, I've made some jam using the glut of fresh mirabelles that we picked from the garden. I added one of our fresh red chillies, just to give it a bit of heat - a warm glow that makes you feel happy inside. I like to de-seed the chillies as I don't want the jam to be really hot, and I prefer not to be crunching on the seeds.

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I like to slice the chilli length-ways, and then remove the seeds before dicing

Mirabelle Jam

1 kg of mirabelles, weighed after stones removed
1 kg preserving sugar (has pectin already added)
1 fresh red chilli - seeds removed
1-2 tablespoons brandy - optional

Wash and dry the fresh mirabelles. Cut them in half and remove the stones, place in a preserving or large saucepan.

De-seed the chilli and slice it finely, add to the mirabelles in the pan. You may want to wear rubber gloves when handling/slicing the chilli.

Pop a saucer into the freezer to chill.

Add the sugar to the pan and cook gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When all the sugar has dissolved and no crystals are left, bring the jam to the boil and boil for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the jam, you don't want it to catch the bottom of the pan and burn. Remove from the heat.

Put a teaspoonful of jam onto the chilled saucer for 1 minute. Drag your finger lightly over the jam. If it wrinkles, it has reached setting point; if it doesn’t, put the saucer back into the freezer and boil again for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and try again. You may need to give it another 5 minutes or so.

Add the brandy if using and set aside to cool for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to its lowest setting. To sterilise the jars and lids, wash them in hot soapy water, rinse and then dry them. Put them upturned onto a baking sheet (lids off) and put them in the oven for 15 minutes. Stir the jam before ladling into the jars. Seal and label.

Printable Recipe for the jam

Printable Recipe for the scones

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Spread the jam on your toast

Previous Taste of Yellow Recipes on Cherrapeno:
Pineapple Sorbet
Lemon Curd

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This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2009 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Recreating the Chocolate Daim Ice Cream Cone

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Recently, when I was on holiday in Norway, the weather was gorgeous - so warm that I bought a Daim ice cream cone. I've not seen them over here, which is a pity because they are fabulous. I couldn't get that cone out of my head, chocolatey and creamy - with a crunch. Was it delicious just because I was on holiday?

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I remembered that I had bought back a couple of packets of Daim crunchy bits (I'm sure you can buy these in Ikea) and that's the secret to the cone. It's time consuming, but quite easy to replicate at home.
Make vanilla ice cream and add Daim bits...
Fill bottom of cones with chocolate...
Add the ice cream to the cones...
Dip in chocolate...
E A S Y ! ! !

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I'd love to see the machines making them....

Chocolate Daim Ice Cream Cones
Note: make sure you have room in your freezer to stand these upright in a container.
Amounts are a guide, depends on your cone size.

6 ice cream cones
Approx 200g good milk chocolate - 1/3 for cone filling and 2/3 for dipping
1 x 100g packet of Daim pieces
Vanilla ice cream - I made my own and used this recipe from Delicious Magazine, it was a bit sweet so I'll cut down on the sugar next time, or you can buy a carton of good vanilla ice cream

Make vanilla ice cream according to the recipe and add the Daim pieces at the end.

Melt about a third of the chocolate and pour it into the bottom of the cones, place the cones upright in a container and put into the freezer.

When ice cream has fully frozen, remove from freezer and spoon some of it into the cones, coming up near to the rim of the cone. With an ice cream or cookie scoop, make a ball of ice cream and pop it onto the top of the cone. If the ice cream is melting too quickly at this point, make the balls and put them into the freezer to firm up for an hour or so before popping onto the cones.
Return cones to the freezer for an hour or so.

Melt the rest of the chocolate (you may need more) and leave to cool, but it should still be pourable.
Take one cone at a time from the freezer and working quickly, dip into the chocolate so that the ice cream is covered, return them straight to the freezer. You may need to spoon the chocolate over when you get to the last couple.

Note: Next time I am going to brush the whole of the inside of the cone with the chocolate and then freeze before adding the chocolate to the bottom of the cone.

Printable Recipe

chocolate Daim ice cream cone 5109 R

These chocolate Daim cones are headed to a food blogging event called Vacation Food. It's being hosted by Zorra from Kochtopf and she's asking us to cook our favorite "vacation food" to prolong the summer holidays. I'm all for that Zorra - hope you like my cones!

Prolong your summer holidays with chocolate Daim ice cream 5090 R

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This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2009 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.