This Christmas cake is rich in dried fruits housed in a decadent cocoa, honey and spiced batter. Dense, flavorful, with hints of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and a cream cheese icing to smoothen it all.
Let me start by saying: Merry Christmas everybody!
Then, just talking between me and you...I didn't know fruit cakes had such a bad rep here...
I keep hearing stories about people getting fruit cakes for Christmas like they are some kind of a joke, or some kind of punishment 😉 .
Yes, they're slowly -very slowly- showing a sign of coming back, but still, almost nobody wants it gifted. If it happens, all they want is to regift 🙂 .
Wait till you try my interpretation of Nigella'a chocolate fruit cake. You're going to lick your lips, fingers, and begging for a second slice.
I have to say that in Italy we have many desserts that are packed with candied and dried fruits: Panettone has orange candied peel and raisins, Panforte and Panpepato (denser and heavier than a fruit cake) are loaded with nuts and dried fruits, so for me, it is not that big of a deal. My taste buds are already trained for years and years of eating this kind of sweets and I like them a lot. I never had the Canadian version, though, maybe it's different, I don't know.
When I decided, supported by Loreto, that I wanted to bake a Fruit Cake for our Christmas' Eve dinner at his parents, we started looking at some recipes: viewing pictures, ingredients, instructions, and finally letting our intuition guide towards The One.
We were almost set on Jamie Oliver's "Bee’s Bakery’s perfect Christmas cake recipe" when we stumbled into Nigella's youtube video of her Chocolate Fruit Cake. A quick look at the ingredients and the preparation, and we were sold. I mean, it is a Chocolate fruit cake, how can't it win? Plus, you don't need weeks to make it and a truck to load into your mouth. It is perfect and balanced with just the right medley of: dried fruits (I used figs, raisins, cranberries, blueberries, Rainier cherries, crystallized ginger, candied cherries) spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and allspice), liqueur (Kahlua), cocoa, essence (orange juice and zest), sweet (brown sugar, honey and molasses), flours (all-purpose and almond meal), eggs and butter.
The longest part is to prepare all the ingredients. Once you have them ready, you just need a pan on the stove and a spring fold cake tin lined with parchment paper. Loreto did a great job in lining it for me: two round pieces at the bottom and a double ring of parchment around the side with butter being the glue to hold it in place. And we are set for the baking process.
When the cake was ready, we were going back and forth between a Mascarpone and a simple Cream Cheese Icing, and on pondering both we decided that the mascarpone may take it too over the top in richness, so cream cheese winning out. Finished it off with some chocolate shavings and a sprinkle of gold pebbles, it was a delight for the eyes.
The flavor of this cake is rich in dried fruits (figs being the most prominent), housed in a decadent cocoa, honey and spiced batter. The outcome is a dense, flavorful cake with hints of cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg hitting your palate and just that little bit of icing to smoothen it all. Loreto's favorite, the crunch of the sugar gold pebbles, just for the kid in him.
Christmas Fruit Cake regifter, beware! This one is a keeper.
Song of the day: "This Christmas", Cee lo Green's version.
Just want to take a moment to say thank you to all of you who have followed us. Merry Christmas to all. And to all a good day.Print
- 650 g mixed dried fruits (I used figs, cranberries, raisins, Rainier cherries, candied cherries, crystallized ginger)
- 175 g soft unsalted butter
- 175 g dark brown sugar
- 100 ml runny honey
- 75 ml fancy molasses
- 125 ml Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
- 2 oranges (juice and zest)
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice (cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice)
- 4 tablespoons cocoa
- 3 large eggs (lightly beaten)
- 150 g plain flour
- 75 g ground almonds
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
Cream Cheese Icing (optional):
- 225 g cream cheese, softened
- 1 Tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 ½ Tbsp icing sugar
- 2 Tbsp chocolate shavings
- 2 Tbsp sugar gold pebbles
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line the sides and bottom of a 24cm / 9.5-inch round springfold cake tin with a double layer of parchment paper. The paper should come up higher than the sides of the tin; think of a lining that’s twice as deep as the tin. To hold the parchment in place grease the tin with butter.
- Put the fruit, butter, sugar, molasses, honey, Kahlua, orange juice and zests, spice and cocoa into a large wide saucepan and bring to a boil gently, stirring as the butter melts. Simmer for 10 minutes, and then take off the heat and leave to stand for 30 minutes, or more.
- After the 30 minutes are up, it will have cooled a little. Add the beaten eggs, flour, ground almonds, baking powder and baking soda, and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Pour the fruit cake mixture into the prepared cake tin. Place in the oven and bake for 1¾–2 hours, by which time the top of the cake should be firm but will have a shiny and sticky look. If you insert a cake tester into the centre of the cake it will still be a little gooey in the middle.
- Put the cake on a cooling rack. It will hold its heat and take a while to cool, but once it has, unmould it from the tin.
For the cream cheese icing (optional):
- Combine cream cheese, milk and vanilla, mixing until well blended.
- Gradually add icing sugar, beating until light and fluffy.
- Spread over cooled cake.
- Garnish with chocolate shavings and sugar gold pebbles (optional).
You can use any dried and candied fruits you like (prunes, apricots, maraschino cherries, etc). Quantity of fruit is really up to you, if you like a more cake-like consistency less fruit is required. Also, if you don't like or have molasses, you can use all honey. Most of all, be creative and adventurous and be pleasantly surprised.
This cake has a long shelf life (of course without the icing). The best way to store it is to wrap it in baking parchment and then in foil and place it in a tin.
Cooking time may vary on the type of oven you have (convection -shorter- or conventional -longer-).
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: North American
Disclosure: All links in our post are NOT affiliate links. They are only about products or places we normally purchase and like.
I love baking and kneading dough because it takes me to a happy place in my soul.