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Recipe: Nigella's incredibly easy chocolate fruitcake

Recipe: Nigella's incredibly easy chocolate fruitcake Author: Style At Home

Recipes

Recipe: Nigella's incredibly easy chocolate fruitcake

I think it's hard to improve on this cake: dark, damp, squidgy and luscious; you don't taste the chocolate full-on -- the cocoa just leaves a hint of smokey richness. Nor, I should add, do you taste the prunes. When I was making this cake for my TV programme, the cameraman, Wee Nev (Neville Kidd, the eminent DOP, for all IMDb-addicts) said with force “Eugh, I HATE prunes!” But when he ate it, later, he proclaimed it to be the best Christmas cake he'd ever had. And he asked for the recipe so that he could ask his wife to make it for Christmas. I don't mean to crow; it sounds so undignified. But it's important that you know how universally seductive this cake is, for all that it starts off "350g prunes".

I don't know what it is in the prunes that gives the cake its damp bounciness; all I know is that it works. You don't need to make this in advance, although you can, and you don't have to do anything much to make it, either. You just melt everything together, give or take, in a saucepan, pour from saucepan to cake tin and bake. It needs no icing, though I have suggested -- see p.267 if you need help with stockists -- a little festive decoration, below.

And there's no reason why you couldn't vary this method to make a Plain Dark Fruit Cake: just replace the Tia Maria with rum (or brandy if you prefer), making up the sweetness by adding a heaped tablespoon of marmalade; take out the cocoa, adding 2 tablespoons of flour to the 150g; and decorate with a sprig of holly or any of the suggestions below.

Ingredients

  • 350g prunes, scissored or chopped
  • 250g raisins
  • 175g currants
  • 175g soft butter
  • 175g dark muscovado sugar
  • 225g (175ml) honey
  • 125ml Tia Maria or other coffee liqueur
  • juice and finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 150g plain flour
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

      
FOR DECORATION:
  • 25g dark chocolate-covered coffee beans
  • approx. 10 edible gold stars
  • edible gold mini balls
  • edible glitter, in Disco Hologram gold

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nigella-christmas.jpgFrom Nigella Christmas. Published by Random House Canada.  Copyright © 2008 by Nigella Lawson. All rights reserved.  Reprinted by permission of Random House Canada.

 

 

 

 

Directions
1
Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2 and prepare a 20cm x 9cm deep, round, loose-bottomed cake tin by lining the bottom and sides with a double layer of baking parchment, as for the Traditional Christmas Cake on p.172 (though I find that if you use one layer of that tough, reusable silicone baking parchment, my beloved Bake-O-Glide, it does the job well enough, and as the cake is so dark, you don't see if it catches a little).

2 Put the fruits, butter, sugar, honey, Tia Maria, orange juice and zests, spice and cocoa powder into a large, wide saucepan and gently bring to the boil, stirring as the butter melts.

3 Simmer the mixture for 10 minutes, then take off the heat and leave to stand for 30 minutes.

4 When the 30 minutes are up -- it will have cooled a little, but you can leave it for longer if you want -- add the beaten eggs, flour, ground almonds, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to combine.

5 Pour the fruit cake mixture into the prepared cake tin. Place in the oven and bake for 13/4--2 hours, by which time the top of the cake should be firm but will have a shiny, sticky look. If you insert a cake tester or skewer into it, the cake will still be a little gooey in the middle.

6 Put the cake, still in its tin, on a wire cooling rack -- it will hold its heat and take a while to cool; once cool, take it out of the tin and, if you don't want to eat it immediately (like any fruit cake it has a long life), wrap it in baking parchment or greaseproof paper then in foil and store in a cake or other airtight tin.

7 To decorate, though this is optional, place the chocolate-covered coffee beans in the centre of the cake and arrange the gold stars around the perimeter of the top. Then sprinkle some gold mini-balls over the whole cake, and the edible glitter over the top, not minding that you will be a-glitter yourself for a while.

Makes at least 10 generous slices


MAKE AHEAD TIP:
Make the cake up to 2 weeks ahead and wrap in a double layer of greaseproof paper and then a layer of foil. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Decorate when needed.

FREEZE AHEAD TIP:
Make the cake and wrap as above. Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, unwrap the cake and thaw overnight at room temperature. Re-wrap and store as above until needed.


BUY THIS BOOK

nigella-christmas.jpgFrom Nigella Christmas. Published by Random House Canada.  Copyright © 2008 by Nigella Lawson. All rights reserved.  Reprinted by permission of Random House Canada.

 

 

 

 

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Recipe: Nigella's incredibly easy chocolate fruitcake