I love a Christmas cake with a twist and this version has rich, dark cocoa and lots of fragrant spices. The fruit is processed, which gives a non-traditional finish, and the cake is crowned with lashings of chocolate ganache and festive toppings.
10 fresh pitted dates
20 pitted prunes
20 dried apricots
15 moist dried figs, stems trimmed off
zest 1 large orange
185 grams butter, diced
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup golden syrup
¾ cup whiskey or alcohol of choice
1 apple, grated with skin on
¼ teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs, size 7, lightly beaten
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup cocoa (I use Valrhona)
1½ teaspoons each ground ginger, cinnamon and cardamom
½ teaspoon each ground nutmeg and cloves
¼ cup whiskey
200 grams dark chocolate, chopped (67 per cent cocoa)
Preheat the oven to 140°C.
Grease a 22cm x 9cm deep square cake tin with cooking spray and fully line with a double layer of baking paper, spraying between the two layers so they’ll stick together.
Fruit: Place all the ingredients except the apple and baking soda, in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook for 2 minutes then take off the heat. Stir in the apple then the baking soda. The mixture will foam up. Set aside to cool. Tip into a food processor and blend until smooth.
Cake: Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and stir in the eggs until well combined.
Sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa and all the spices together and stir into the batter.
Spoon into the tin and smooth the top.
Bake for 2 hours or until cooked through and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Use a toothpick to poke all over the top of the hot cake and immediately pour over the ¼ cup of whiskey. Leave to cool completely in the tin. Makes 1 cake
Heat the cream in a small saucepan until just below boiling point. Take off the heat and add the chocolate. Leave for 1 minute then whisk until smooth. Set aside until cool and it has thickened to a spreadable consistency. Spoon over the cake, making swirls with the back of a spoon. Makes 1½ cups
To garnish: Top with extra garnishes of choice. I used: Valrhona chocolate pearls, edible gold and silver stars, rolled dark and white chocolate cigars.
Cook’s note: To feed and store the cake: Cool completely then remove the baking paper it was cooked in. Re-wrap completely in clean baking paper then a tea towel. Store in an airtight container and feed the cake every seven to 10 days with extra whiskey until you decorate it.