My mom loves Christmas cake. So after I discovered ghee, I have been making a version of my Grannie’s Christmas Cake for her the past few years. I’ve modified it to take out the parts I don’t like and to make it a bit (emphasis on the bit part) healthier than the traditional version. First, I have removed the candied citron peel as ain’t nobody got time for that (aka. it’s gross). Then, I replaced some of the usual candied fruit for unsweetened dried fruit. Third, I douse it in way more brandy than the original recipe called for as it needs to stay moist of course!
This cake is super rich – it’s great when you eat it just because, but it is amazing when you eat it while skiing or while outside in cold weather. I think it’s because the ghee and brandy to help keep you warm! 😉
Gluten, Casein and Soy Free Christmas Cake
4 oz. currants
2 oz. apple juice sweetened dried cranberries
6 oz. sultana raisins
4 oz. dried figs, diced (I cut them in half lengthwise and then slice them into three sections)
4 oz. glace cherries, cut in half
2-3 rings of dried, unsweetened pineapple cut/teared into pieces
2 oz. blanched slivered almonds
1/4 c. starch
4 oz. Ghee (it’s casein free!) (Or 6 oz. butter)
2/3 c. sugar
1 egg replacer (I made mine with Almond milk, but feel free to use any dairy free milk)
2 tbsp. brandy
1/2 c. each brown rice flour, sorghum flour and tapioca starch
1/4 c. millet flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. baking powder
- Preheat oven to 250F and place a bowl or pan full of water in the oven.
- Take an 8″ springform pan and line with parchment paper and wax paper sticking 2″ above the edge of the pan (parchment paper on the outside – to do this, I cut out a circle of each for the bottom and then a long strip of each that is 2″ wider than the height of the pan. The length is pi*d, and for my pan, it was around 24″. You do want a bit of overlap, so if it’s too long, that’s okay!)
- In a large bowl, combine all the dried fruits. Add the starch and toss until the fruit is covered, breaking up any clumps.
- In a stand mixer, cream the ghee and sugar.
- Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined.
- Add the brandy and mix until combined.
- Sift in the flours and beat until a smooth batter forms.
- Remove from mixer and stir in the dried fruits until fruit is evenly distrubuted in the batter.
- Scrape in lined pan and smooth out.
- Bake for 3 hrs or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and let cool on a rack. Don’t remove from the pan.
- Once cool, take a toothpick or other thin pointy object (I used one of those turkey skewers) and poke holes all over the cake. Take a 2 -3 tbsp. of brandy and pour over cake. Place cake in a ziploc bag.
- Repeat a couple times over the next few days. The cake can be stored on the counter for a few days on the counter and longer in the fridge. It freezes very well, just make sure you brandy it at least twice and wrap in two ziploc bags.
- Enjoy the rich goodness!
Note: When you thaw it, douse it in brandy. Trust me, it’s worth it. 🙂
Are you a Christmas Cake lover or hater?
I’ve always wanted to try making Christmas themed candies or confections, but I know it’s WAY too much sugar for me to handle by myself. Luckily, my work was doing an “Adopt a Family” thing and we were allowed to send along food gifts, so I got the best of both worlds – I got to make my candy and not feel obliged to eat it all.
Having never made chocolate bark before, I wanted to try it and make it as Christmas-y as possible. Normally I shy away from candy canes (a stick of sugar? No thanks! I’d rather have my sugar in baking or chocolate), but since these weren’t for me, I figured why not? The peppermint bark was especially delicious with the extra mint flavouring from the chocolate.
I wanted to make some kind of fudge, but didn’t have the time or inclination to make “real” fudge with a candy thermometer and temperamental sugar temperatures. So, I chose to make peanut butter fudge, which is incredibly simple. And tasty. I wish I could figure out a way to make it less sweet and healthier – but I guess that’s what the internet is for!
From the small tastings I had, both were incredibly delicious! I would definitely make both again – as long as I have plenty of people to share it with!
1 package of mint flavoured dark chocolate chips (if you can’t find these, normal dark chocolate chips & peppermint flavouring would work)
1 package white chocolate chips
4 – 6 peppermint candy canes
- Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil (parchment paper would probably work, too).
- In a microwave safe bowl, melt dark chocolate chips. Pour onto lined cookie sheet and spread out.
- Place in fridge for 30 minutes or freezer for 15 minutes until solid.
- Meanwhile, place candy canes in a Ziploc bag and wack with a meat tenderizer or rolling-pin until small-sized chunks.
- Melt white chocolate chips and spread over the dark layer.
- Sprinkle with crushed candy canes and put back into the fridge or freezer.
- Once the bark is hard, remove from fridge/freezer. Peel foil off of bark.
- To prevent finger marks from getting on the bark, use a piece of foil. Holding edge of the bark in one hand, use a knife to stab at the bark, breaking it into pieces. This will ensure that the break is clean and looks like what broken up bark should.
- Store in the fridge if you have a warm house. If not, it should be fine being stored on the counter. I wrapped mine up in cellophane wrap tied with a ribbon. They looked pretty cute!
Peanut Butter Fudge
From The Joy of Cooking
1 1/2 c. smooth (non-natural) peanut butter – I used Kraft’s unsweetened peanut butter as this thing has enough sugar in it already!
1 1/2 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
4 c. icing sugar, sifted
- Butter an 8×8″ pan.
- In a medium sauce pan, melt peanut butter and butter together Bring to a boil.
- Remove from heat and add salt and vanilla extract.
- Stir in icing sugar until smooth.
- Pour/scrape into buttered pan and smooth.
- Cover with plastic wrap and cool in fridge until hard.
- Slice and enjoy! I wrapped them in wax paper to give away.
What are your favourite Christmas Treats?
Now I feel like a bit of hypocrite, as I was feeling inspired yesterday and thus have designed a new Christmas themed header for my blog. Oops. I always find it interesting that after you’ve got something off your chest you can let it go and move on from it and I guess that’s the case with my new header! I’m still not listening to Christmas music, though. 😉
For this week’s Good to Wow: Shoot and Edit, I wanted to use gradual filters like what Cedar talks about in her tutorial. Fortunately, I did take a landscape photo, which works really well for that kind of filter. I also fiddled with the white balance and saturation to make it look better.
Looking at photos like that makes me so happy that I live in Alberta and have the Rocky Mountains on my doorstep.
What’s on your “doorstep” that makes you happy?
To be honest, I really haven’t been feeling terribly Christmas-y yet despite the snow on the ground and it being Advent and all. Mr. Bean can attest to how annoyed I was that my favourite radio station started playing Christmas music on American Thanksgiving. (It’s not even advent yet! Why are they playing Christmas music already!??! Why can’t they wait until Advent starts or until it’s December?!!?)
When I was growing up, we didn’t really start celebrating Christmas itself until basically Christmas Eve. I especially loved that some of the first Christmas Carols we’d sing were at the Lessons and Carols service at Church as well as on Christmas Eve instead of at the end of November. It made it seem so much more special! My family celebrated Advent and would do the Advent wreath/calendar things in December but we wouldn’t really put up any decorations, including our Christmas tree, until the 20th – 23rd (depending on how organized we were! haha. For what it’s worth, my family is usually one of the families whose Christmas cards arrive after Christmas.) Some of you probably think we’re crazy, which is fine, but we’ve always believed that the 12 days of Christmas start at Christmas and so that’s when we’d really celebrate Christmas and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere. So, I guess one of the reasons why I’m not terribly enthused for Christmas at the moment is that I’m afraid that I’ll be tired of it by the time it actually comes around – do you ever feel this way? Plus, from being in university, I learned quickly that as much as I might have wanted to get into the Christmas Spirit, I couldn’t if I wanted to do well on my finals! Old habits die-hard I guess!
View of the Rocky Mountains on Saturday Morning
That being said, given that it’s now actually December and we’re now in the second week of Advent, Mr. Bean and I have put up our mini Christmas tree, our Christmas lights and our door wreath and that helps make me feel a bit more in the Christmas spirit. I have been listening to the Christmas songs on the radio occasionally while I drive to tutoring because I like the DJ in the afternoon, they give good traffic updates and sometimes secular music annoys me more that 24/7 Christmas music. (I’m really picky, aren’t I? I guess that’s what happens when you enjoy listening to Christian music and then it’s taken away from you – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! haha.) Despite that, I’m still trying the “dip your toe in first” method instead of the “just jump right in!” method when it comes to enjoying Christmas in hopes that when Christmas finally gets here, I still want to celebrate it! Maybe like Scrooge I’m not so Bah Humbug-y after all; I just take a bit of time to get into the Christmas spirit! 🙂
When do you start celebrating Christmas? Are you sick of the Christmas atmosphere by the time it actually comes around?
These photos are Straight Out Of the Camera (SOOC) and are my submission for this week’s Christmas/Holiday themed Good to Wow: Shoot and Edit over on Jill’s Blog.