Saturday, 30 August 2014

RIch Fruit Cake / Christmas Cake Recipes - Mulled Wine and Deluxe Chocolate Orange !

Yup - it's AUGUST and I'm making Christmas cakes !

Seems crazy doesn't it - but the effort is worthwhile. I took an old, vintage cake recipe and gave it a bit of a vamp. I'm happy to say, these have turned out absolutely divine and will only get better on maturing....

I've run out of homemade apple brandy liqueur this year and am about to make more. However, I did have a couple of bottles of Mulled Wine left from last Christmas and a bottle of Triple Sec Curaco (bought from MandS) - orange brandy and cognac... so these recipes were based on what I had lying around.

Now, I can't wait until Christmas !

Actually - I've just made a load of single portion ones in 2" dia, 6 cell cylinder silicone mould . These are awesome as they are perfect for single portions .... or cut into two to turn each into teeny tiny mini cakes..... Nope - not sharing .... those are ALL mine :-)

For 3" diameter (two to three person serving - or just a nice gift size) - use our 6 cell Paw Print mould. It's got super straight sides and you won't see the paw prints on the base when you follow the easy tips at the bottom.

The method for both cake recipes is practically the same. For the deluxe chocolate version, mix the extra ingredients (melted butter and chocolate) into the batter before adding fruit.

Ingredients : Traditional Style Fruit Cake (but with Mulled Wine)

255g of butter
255g of brown sugar (or 220g white sugar and 35g of black molasses)
50g of golden syrup
5 eggs
255g of self raising flour
2 tsp of mixed spice
675g of currants
175g of sultanas
100g of candied peel (or swap out for dried cranberries)
125g of chopped glace cherries
100g of chopped walnuts (also great when swapped out for glace ginger
125g of chopped apricots
1.1/2 cups of mulled wine or 1 cup of brandy, plus 1/2 a cup of water
2 clementines (whole) with thin peel - pulsed in food processor until smooth

Makes 1 x 10" or 2 x rather deep 6" cakes. If making the Extra Deluxe Chocolate Orange Christmas cake, the 6" tins will make very deep cakes. You might even get away with using 3 tins.

Bake at 150deg C for approx 160mins (10") and 130mins (6" - as it's really deep)

Line cake tins with a double layer of parchment, which should rise at least 3" / 75mm above your tins. For the little silicone moulds, see preparation instructions and pictures at the bottom of this blog entry.

Alternatively, try using 2" diameter and 3" diameter silicone bakeware moulds (pattern at the bottom is irrelevant when lined with paper !) . See further down for links, photos and tips !

30mins baking time for 2" and 45mins for 3".

Put dried fruits in a saucepan with lid on with the alcohol and bring to a simmer 5 mins. Allow to sit and cool with the lid on for at least 20mins and absorb all the liquid.

Cream butter and sugar, syrup and treacle (if using in place of brown sugar)

Add eggs one by one, followed by a table spoon of the flour after adding each egg.

Add rest of flour / mixed spice, followed by two whole (thin skinned clementines) - blitzed to a puree  - can be omitted.

Finally, mix in the plum fruits / nuts and any remaining liquid. I tend to dump the batter on top of the fruits in the pot, and then mix it in.... Quick, and dead easy !


 **** For an Extra Deluxe Chocolate Orange Fruitcake ****

add 75g extra melted butter plus 200g melted dark chocolate and 50g of cocoa powder to the batter.

When warm from the oven, put 1tsp of brandy / Curaco over 2" cakes, 2tsp over 3" cakes and about 2 tablespoons over 6" cakes, 3 over 8" and 4 over 10"

If you wish, you can further improve your cake by maturing and "Feeding" your cake with a little alcohol every week brushed over the surface , wrapping up the cake between feeds.

Brandy is the alcohol of choice for most Christmas cakes - but I'm using Dry Curaco from MandS at the moment for a lovely orange kick. Works so well with the fruit and also with the chocolate !

 Here's how I cheat with lining the 6 cylinder 2" and 3" diameter silicone bakeware moulds

First of all, grease your moulds using a little butter on a piece of kitchen paper

Then, take some standard size cupcake cases and cut off the sides - which will leave you with the 48 > 50mm centre at the bottom.

This is now REALLY easy to pop into the base of your mould.

I like to line the cells of moulds for Christmas cakes. If you are leaving the cakes in the mould to feed them, they end up quite damp and lining makes it super easy to remove them with just a little tug.

For the bigger 3" dia moulds, use the same method - but cut a little higher round the base part of the paper ... leaving about 1cm extra right round.

You can actually see the paw print on the bottom of the cell of this mould - but that doesn't matter as you wont notice it in a minute.

Ta da ! Quickest ever mini parchment circles :-)

Now, cut some strips of baking paper / parchment to about 4 " / 100mm high.

Simply roll into a loose tube and pop into the cell.

Easy as it possibly can be !

Fill the cells of your 2" and 3" moulds to level with the top of the cell. The cakes will rise a tiny bit - but by the time they are trimmed, the height will be a full 2" before icing.

For mine, I decorated the small ones very simply. I brushed some warm apricot jam on the tops used a cookie cutter to cut out small circles of fondant and marzipan.

The larger cake shown further up is actually the Extra Deluxe Chocolate and Orange version. Not overly happy with the decoration - but it was first attempt at upside down sharp edges in fondant and I'm fairly happy with the results. 

This one has a full covering of modelling chocolate (Modelling Chocolate pdf Tutorial), then a layer of fondant on top.  The chain border round the bottom was made from this cake decorating sugarpaste push mould 

Happy Baking !

Do let me know how you all get on with this recipe :-)

Sarah-Jane Nash - - website - facebook page

Ferrero Rocher Angels - Easy To Make and SO Darn Cute !

One day in the supermarket, I spied a box of Ferrero Rocher.... and something inside screamed at me to turn them into angels!

It's not something I've seen done before, and I couldn't be happier with how they turned out. So darn adorable and perfect as little Christmas decorations and gifts. With all that chocolate, nutella, piedmont hazelnuts and salt caramel, what's not to love ?

You'll see I even utilized part of the wrapper for the little ruffle collar round the neck. However, if you prefer different colours - we've got a load of mini muffin / cupcake cases that are an ideal size to choose from.

You will also need a 12 cell silicone Dariole mould to make these.

I guess you have been looking at them long enough - so I have best show you what to do !

I'm afraid I didn't work out quantities of ingredients for these. It depends if you want to leave the body part empty or fill it 1/2 with nutella and half with salt caramel (just a suggestion)

Ingredients :

a few roasted hazelnuts
a medium sized jar of nutella
one batch quantity of salt caramel

You will need :

plastic bowl
a pastry brush
offset spatula (or a wide flat knife will probably do)
a heart shaped cookie cutter
a rolling pin
a clean tea towel
a granite of marble chopping board (frozen overnight) - or a glazed tile

Put the couverture chocolate in the plastic bowl and microwave in 30 second bursts at 75%. After every 30 seconds, remove from the microwave and stir with a silicone spatula - even if it looks like it hasn't started melting at first.

The good thing about couverture chocolate is that as long as you melt in short burst and the temperature stays really low, your chocolate will stay in temper. Chocolate needs to be in temper - or it will go gritty if you get it too hold or lose it's shine and get a mouldy look due to either sugar or fat bloom.

When the chocolate is about 70% melted, don't put it back in the microwave. Just stir, stir, stir until almost all of the chocolate melts. Don't worry if it won't all melt. The remaining chunks can be removed with a fork. The chocolate should be around body temperature when ready to use. Touch a little bit to your upper lip. If you cannot feel it at all, it should be ready to use.

Use your pastry brush to apply a coat of chocolate inside the cells of your mould - making sure to cover all the silicone. Allow to start to set and have a matt finish before adding a second coat. Use a 3rd coat if required - we only used two coats.

This dariole mould has only had one coat at this point. You can still see the silicone shining through the chocolate on the furthest away cell.

Pop two or three roasted hazelnuts into each cell if desired.

Using a disposable piping bag (or a sandwich bag with a corner snipped off), pipe some nutella into each cell - followed by salt caramel. Be sure to leave at least 5mm gap above the filling to the top of the mould.

Of course, you can leave these hollow if you choose to.

Fill the gap at the top with more chocolate and give the mould a tap so the chocolate levels.

Once this is done, pop into the fridge for about 30 mins to set nice and hard before attempting to release from your silicone mold.

Whilst these are setting, we're going to make the wings !

Unfortunately, I forgot to take some photos here.....

Take your frozen granite / marble chopping board out the freezer. Leave for about 2 mins, then scrape the ice off the surface.

Next, spread on a small amount of chocolate using a flat knife or angled spatula. Use the heart shaped cookie cutter to cut the chocolate.

Free the chocolate right away from the slab with a knife / angled spatula. Place a clean tea towel over a rolling pin and place the heart on to that. The chocolate will be firm but "bendy" at this stage and curve a little round the pin.

Next, cut the bottom third of the heart off with a pair of scissors before making the next heart.

You need to cut that bottom bit off, or the wings just don't fit properly on the angel. Do make twice the amount of wings that you actually need. They are very thin and fragile - some will get broken during assembly.

If you wish to box these and give as gifts, I'd suggest putting some chocolate on a 3" dia cake card and then placing the chocolate filled dariole on top. Of course - this isn't required - I actually think they look better off cards.

Next, put a little blob of chocolate on the top of the body, then place on the mini cupcake case / frilled wrapper on top.

Another little blob of chocolate on top of that, and you can stick on your Ferrero Rocher / angels head.

A small amount of chocolate on the centre area of the trimmed chocolate heart and the wings can now stick on !

Voila ! That's it - your angel is complete :-)

If you like this tutorial, please do feel free to share it. I'd also love to see your chocolate Ferrero Rocher angels :-)

Happy Baking and Creating