Monday 27 December 2010

Merry Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake

Belated Merry Christmas everyone!

So so sorry for the slack posting.  Christmas is an intensely insane time of year.  But for some reason this year's Christmas craziness really takes the cake.

On top of the usual Christmas madness, I'm at a humungous turning point in my life.  At the cusp of something very exciting but it could mean moving away from all the people and places and things I love to pursue a dream of mine.  It's terrifying, exhilarating and mind boggling.  And all still up in the air with nothing completely confirmed yet.  Very. Eek.

And on top of that I'm flying out to Sri Lanka tomorrow, then have a trip to HK all the while trying to plan my wedding (5 months to go!)...whew!!

So in all the madness, all I have for you lovely people today is a short and sweet post today this super yummy Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake with Chocolate Brandy Ganache adapted from a Nigella recipe, made for the family Christmas lunch and used a practice round for my wedding cake!

This Chocolate Fruit Cake marks my very first attempt at decorating with fondant.  I've never had lessons, though have watched countless youtube videos, so was totally rookie.  I'm rather proud of my attempt..ok so it's lumpy and I couldn't get rid of the folds but it looks so purrrrrty! Plus I had so much fun!  Like playing with playdoh but playdoh that actually tasted good when you eat it. 

The cake itself was super easy to make.  All in one saucepan, then bake long and low for ages.  To tell you the truth I'm not a huge fan of fruit cake.  But like I mentioned before, this is a practice for my wedding cake which I plan to make myself and I thought I'd go for a fruit cake as it is traditional and can be made waaaaay in advance.

I've heard good things about this Nigella recipe...the combination of chocolate and fruit cake intrigued me.  And I'm glad I tried it.  The flavour is rich, deep and fruity but not that mediciney taste you get from badly made commercial fruit cakes.  The chocolate brandy ganache is utterly heavenly with the cake.  The dark chocolate and dried fruit combo actually reminds me of florentines - yum!  Next time, I think I might mix through some dark chocolate chips for more of a chocolate hit.

The ingenious decorating idea was from Kelly, one of our Baking for Hospice bakers.  So easy and so effective - I loves it! Thanks Kelly!

Chocolate Fruit Cake with Chocolate Brandy Ganache

Adapted from a recipe by Nigella Lawson

350 g pitted prunes, chopped
250 g raisins
125 g currants
175 g unsalted butter, softened
175 g dark muscavado sugar
2/3 cup honey
2 Tbsps golden syrup
1/4 cup brandy
1 Tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
1 orange zested and juiced
1 tsp mixed spice
2 Tbsp cocoa

3 eggs, lightly beaten
150 g flour
75 g ground almonds
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Chocolate Brandy Ganache
500 g dark chocolate, chopped/broken up into little pieces
1 cup cream
6 Tbsp brandy

Place chocolate, cream and brandy into a microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave for 30 second bursts till the chocolate has completely melted.  Stir with a silicon spatula and make sure you don't get any water in the bowl.  Let cool and place in the fridge for around 30 minutes to set to a spreading consistency.

To decorate
Fondant icing
Giant Jafas
Jelly Mint leaves

1. Line a 9 inch spring form pan with a double layer of newspaper then double layer of baking paper.

2. In a large saucepan heat over medium heat the butter, prunes, raisins and currants, sugar, honey, golden syrup, coffee, brandy, orange zest and juice, mixed spice and cocoa until the mixture comes to a gentle boil stirring as it melts.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Take off the heat and let cool for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150oC.

3. Once the mixture has cooled a little, add the eggs, ground almonds and sift in the flour, baking powder and baking soda and mix well.

4. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours, until the top of the cake is firm and looks shiny/sticky but a skewer comes out with the middle still a little uncooked.

5.  Cool in the tin.  Once completely cool, remove from tin and decorate by spreading a thin layer of Chocolate Brandy Ganache over the cake with a pallet knife as a crumb layer.  Let this set in the fridge.  Then add a thicker layer of ganache the create a smooth surface for the fondant.  Let the ganache harden completely in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

 6.  Using a clean stocking, cut off the tip and make a pouch for equal parts cornflour and icing sugar to dust the work surface and the fondant.  Take the premade fondant and knead on the prepared work surface, then roll out until around 0.5 cm thick.  Use to cover the cake and trim away the ends.  Decorate with jafas and mint, wetting the spot where you want the lollies to stick with a little water to make the fondant tacky.

7.  If you don't want to decorate right away wrap in a double layer of parchment paper, then foil and then gladwrap and will keep like this for 2-3 weeks.  Or will keep wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months.


  1. That looks wonderful! Perfect holiday cake.

  2. I don't even like xmas fruit cake, but this recipe looks and sounds rather yummy. I think it was the chocolate ganache that swayed me. :P
    The decoration is really appealing too, makes it look modern. Definitely doesn't look like a rookie effort.

  3. This looks super, Nessie! :) Yum!!

    Have a great and relaxing trip! and I think we'll all be waiting to hear what is about to unfold in your life - it sounds like a dream close to your heart. May it all work out well!

    Am moving up to Auckland in 2 weeks, scaryness for me. :O

  4. Adorable cake! Love the photos! Congrats on food buzz top 9!!

  5. Lora: Thanks Lora! Hope you had a great Christmas and new year!

    Tiffany: Cheers for stopping by Tiffany...not being a fruit cake fan I couldn't believe how tasty it was!

    Linno: Aw thanks Linno! I can't wait to try again and not get such a prunish looking cake. I'm not a fruit cake fan either but I like this cake...the brandy chocolate ganache definitely kicks it up a notch. Chocolate makes all things good.

    Mel: Oh wow thanks Mel and hope the move goes smoothly!! I'm most probably moving down to Dunedin next month so am also going through pangs of missing my kitchen! Hope you had a great Christmas and New Years in Welly xox

    Kori & Christina: Thanks Kori and Christina! It was my very first attempt at fondant decorating and am just very glad it didn't end up looking a lumpy snow ball! :)

    Shannon: Oh wow I had no idea I was in the top 9!! Awesomeness! Thanks heaps for stopping by!



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