The We Should Cocoa challenge, managed by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog, is a great excuse to make a chocolate treat and to use our creativity. The idea is to make something with chocolate each month. We can use any sort of chocolate or cocoa substance and use any ingredient that we like, but we must include the special ingredient or theme selected by the host. December’s Challenge is hosted by Chocette and the theme is alcohol.
I thought that the perfect holiday/booze combo for this challenge would be the much-maligned fruitcake. I always thought fruitcake was kind of gross – all that weirdly fluorescent candied “fruit” in a spiced and boozy base. However, I’ve been a convert in recent years as I’ve tried more elegant fruitcakes that are like vanilla pound cake, but with gourmet dried Montmorency cherries instead of the candied cherries and the occasional addition of chocolate chips.
This year, I decided to try Chocolate Fudge Fruitcake from 365 Great Chocolate Desserts by Natalie Houghton. It’s definitely worth making, even for the most fruitcake-phobic, and has been on my list to try for a while. Why did I wait so long? This fruitcake is a gem – dense and fudgy cake filled with brandy-soaked dried cherries, raisins and cranberries and with chocolate chips for good measure (I still can’t bring myself to use candied fruit). It’s kind of a dressed up adult brownie in loaf form. It may not be as pretty as traditional fruitcake, but it’s a cake that everyone will be happy to get. I made mini-loaves to give away for the holidays although I’m thinking not all of them will be leaving my house!
- 1 cup (8oz/227g) brandy
- 1 cup (5.5oz/160g) dried sour cherries
- 1 cup (4 oz/113g) dried cranberries
- ½ cup (3oz/85g) raisins
- 4 oz (113g) unsweetened chocolate
- 1½ sticks (6 oz/170g) unsalted butter
- 1½ cups (10.5oz/ 297g) granulated sugar
- 6 eggs (10.5oz/ 300g) separated
- 2 ( 10oz/280g) cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 cup (6oz/170g) chocolate chips
- In a medium bowl, pour ½ cup brandy over the dried fruit. Let stand 2-3 hours or overnight.
- Grease two 9x59x inch loaf pans. Line with parchment paper and grease parchment.
- Preheat oven to 250F/121C.
- Melt chocolate in a microwave or double boiler until melted and smooth when stirred. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, beat together the butter and 1 cup of the sugar with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg yolks, 2 at at a time, beating well after each addition. eat in cooled chocolate until well blended.
- Sift together flour and baking powder. Add to chocolate mixture along with ¼ cup brandy. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and brandied fruit mixture with it’s liquid.
- In a large bowl, beat egg whites with clean, dry beaters on high speed until almost stiff. Gradually beat in the remaining ½ cup of sugar. Beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate batter.
- Turn batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly and smoothing the tops.
- Place pans in the oven. Set a shallow pan of water on a rack below pans. Bake 2½ hours (replenishing water as needed), until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean (there may be melted chocolate from the chips, but there shouldn’t be any wet batter).
- Let cakes stand 15 minutes, then take the cakes out of the pans.
- Pour 2 Tbsp. of brandy over each cake. Let cool completely. Wrap cakes in plastic wrap, then wrap in foil. Store in the refrigerator 3 to 4 weeks, sprinkling with additional brandy 2 or three times during the aging period.