Decadent and Moist Dark Chocolate Christmas Cake with a Scandinavian Twist!
If you’re making a cake this Christmas; make it this one!
This cake is to die for! Being Scandinavian I was never accustomed to the fruity and dense Christmas cakes and puddings that have found their way down to Australia from Britain. They are an acquired taste, although they certainly represent all that Christmas is about. Having grown up with light and fluffy Scandinavian desserts, I struggled to adapt to the richness of the traditional English desserts. So instead I found a way to adapt it to the Scandinavian taste!
The result is this decadent and chocolatey Christmas cake, which retains the fruity and rich traditional flavours, but rounds it off with warm chocolate tones and a little tang of Scandinavian berries.
This cake is just as luxurious as it’s traditional counterpart, only slightly more contemporary and with a combination of flavours you might find easier on the palate than the ones of yore. I absolutely love this cake, and I plan on making it a staple in our family every Christmas from now on. My Scandinavian relatives will “eat it up” for sure!
First of all; don’t be scared by the idea of taking on “a Christmas cake”. It is not at all hard, in fact it pretty much does itself. Decoration is optional, and you can improvise. Even a small twig of holly can be decoration enough!
- 650 grams of pre-soaked dried fruits which include candied orange peels
- 300 grams prunes
- 100 grams raisins
- 150 grams currants
- 50 grams piece candied orange peel
- 50 grams sultanas
- 100 gram dried blueberries
- 100 gram dried lingonberries (can be substituted for cranberries – unsweetened)
- 175 grams soft butter (or butter alternative – not spreadable)
- 100 gram sugar
- 75 gram muscovado sugar
- 60 ml runny honey
- 60 ml golden syrup
- 60 ml maple syrup
- 65 ml port
- 65 ml dark rum
- Zest and juice of 3 oranges
- 1 tsp spice – made up of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, aniseed and nutmeg
- 4 tbsp cocoa powder
- 3 pastured duck eggs (or large regular eggs) -beaten
- 150 gram gluten-free self raising flour
- 75 grams almond meal
- 1 cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate
- 1/4 tsp gluten-free baking soda
- 1/4 tsp bicarb
- Lingonberry jam to baste before frosting
- Homemade marzipan (recipe below)
- Fondant icing
- Royal icing and sugared cranberries for decoration
- Preheat the oven to 150 c/300 f
- Line a 20 cm cake tin with high edges in a double layer of baking paper. The baking paper should stick up taller than the tin.
- Put the mixed fruit, butter, sugar, honey, syrup and maple syrup, port and rum, orange juice and zests, spice and cocoa into a large saucepan and bring to the boil on medium to low heat. Stir constantly until the butter has melted, then let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool down for about half an hour (or longer).
- Once it has cooled down you first add the chocolate, then the beaten eggs, flour, baking powder, bicarb, and almond meal. Stir thoroughly but gently.
- Pour the mixture into the lined tin. Place in the oven on the second to lower rack, and bake for 1¾–2 hours.
- The cake is ready when the top is firm and shiny, but the centre will still be a bit gooey if you stick a skewer through it.
- Let the cake cool in the tin before you remove it. If you want to store it straight away then don’t remove the baking paper! The cake will keep for a very long time left in the baking paper, with an additional double layer wrapped around it and secured with string.
- To decorate you will need marzipan and fondant icing. It is a long-standing Norwegian tradition to make your own marzipan come Christmas. Marzipan along with chocolate, dried fruits, nuts and mandarins make up the most traditional of Norwegian holiday treats. My father makes marzipan every year, and nothing tastes better!
-If want to keep it easy, you can skip the marzipan and fondant. You can use royal icing, or simply leave it bare with a dusting of icing sugar!
To make your own marzipan you’ll need
- 225 grams of almonds
- 175 grams of icing sugar
- 3-4 tbsp of egg white
- Boil water in a large pot. Pour the hot water over the almonds and let sit for 5 minutes, or until the skin has loosened from the almond. Using your fingers, “pop” the almonds out of their skins.
- Dry the almonds and grate them very finely using an almond grater (different from grinder).
- Sift the icing sugar into the almonds, and add the egg whites. Work the mixture into a dough using your hands.
- Wrap in cling-film, and let it rest in your pantry for a couple of days. Do not store in the fridge.
- Roll out the marzipan using a rolling-pin and icing sugar instead of flour.
To decorate the cake; baste with lingonberry jam in two-three layers, before you roll on the marzipan and smooth. Follow with the fondant.
I used royal icing to create ice-like patterns on top, and decorated with pine cones and sugared cranberries (follow link for recipe)!
How to store it
The cake can be stored with icing, which creates a great moisture seal. Just don’t freeze the cake once it has been iced, and don’t store with the cranberries.
You can freeze it before it has been iced, or simply store it on a cool dry place (the top of a wardrobe would be perfect). If you want to store the cake, don’t remove the baking paper! If you leave the parchment on it will function as a wonderful air-tight seal. Simply wrap the un-iced cake in several layers of parchment, and tighten with string. You can put it in a biscuit tin, but don’t store it in a plastic container as it may attract mould.
You can make this cake several months before Christmas, in fact storing it for a while will make it even tastier! Simply pierce the top with a skewer in several spots to dunk with some port and rum about once a month. This will keep the cake fresh, moist and flavourful!
You can use cake leftovers to make other delicious treats, such as Puddini Bon-bons or a Christmas Cake Trifle. Both will be featured on the blog before Christmas!
All that remains is to say Merry Christmas; or God Jul!
This recipe was featured in the gorgeous December issue of Yum. Gluten Free Magazine