Yield: 12 mini fruitcakes
“Back to Baking”, pp. 249
My dad is a lover of Scotch and maybe even more so of fruitcake, especially during Christmas. Since I got him a bottle of Scotch for Christmas, I thought that these little whisky fruitcakes would be a very appropriate afternoon or evening snack to go with it. I made only half of the recipe because, frankly, I didn’t have that much whisky on hand, and the result came out even better than I expected. My dad loved them, and so did I.
I thought while putting the mixture in the pan that it seemed very dense and fruit-packed and did not ressemble the floury texture of store-bought fruitcake. Fortunately, that was true and probably by design. I had to taste one of the mini loaves for good measure (I cannot, after all, give a fruitcake to my dad without knowing if it is acceptable!), and was very pleasantly surprised by the result. I am a new-found appreciator of dried fruits, and these mini fruitcakes are truly delicious. Packed with flavour, various textures that make it very enjoyable to eat and with different colours that make it festive, it is the perfect holiday dessert or snack. You can definitely taste the whisky, but not so much so that it overshadows the flavour of the fruits. This was a lovely recipe to make, and I will definitely do it again. I strongly recommend this recipe for anyone who loves dried fruits or fruitcake in general. As a bonus, the mini loaves look adorable and make a nice gift that can be wrapped individually.
- 2 cups raisins
- 1 cup chopped pitted dates
- 1 cup chopped dried apricots
- 1 cup chopped dried figs
- 1 cup chopped dried cranberries
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup whisky, plus extra for brushing
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 whole orange
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, stir together the raisins, dates, apricots, figs, cranberries, almonds, pecans, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Add in the whisky and mix well. Cover and let sit for at least 4 hours, up to a day. Mix once in a while to make sure that all the fruits are soaking in the whisky.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F and grease twelve mini loaf pans (2 ¼ x 4 x 1 ¼-inch).
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt over the fruit mixture and stir until incorporated.
- Cut the orange into quarters, remove the seeds and purée in a food processor with the brown sugar.
- Add the eggs and vanilla extract to the food processor and blend until homogenous. Pour over the fruits and stil well until blended.
- Spoon and pack the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 40 minutes, until a tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Brush the fruitcakes with a little whisky while in the tins, then cool completely.
- Remove the cakes from the tins and brush two more times with whisky before wrapping to store. The cake should sit for 5 days before eating, and can store for up to 4 weeks.
Yield: 8 large scones
“Back to Baking”, pp. 260
The main reason why I decided to do these scones was because I had almond milk in my fridge, a rare event, and thought it was the perfect opportunity use it for a recipe. I must admit that I had serious doubts about how good this recipe would be. Not because I don’t like scones, I love scones, but I thought the texture of the raisins would be very strange in a fluffy crunchy scone. I am a texture person, after all. I was wrong! This dessert took no time at all to make and was delicious! The raisins actually provided a nice texture to the scones and added some sweetness without being overwhelming. Delicious! Who would’ve thought to put raisins in scones?! Anna Olson, that’s who. Great idea. I cannot recommend these scones enough. Easy, tasty, not too sweet and dairy- and egg-free!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon almond or soy milk
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ cup raisins
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the ¾ cup of almond or soy milk, ½ cup of maple syrup and vegetable oil.
- Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the mixed liquids. Stir the mixture with a spatula until it becomes too hard to do, then turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, add the raisins on top of the dough and knead it until it just comes together.
- Shape the dough into a disc of about 8 inches in diameter and cut into 8 wedges. Place the scones onto the prepared baking tray, leaving two inches between them.
- Stir together the remaining tablespoon of almond or soy milk and maple syrup, and use to brush the tops of the scones.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops of the scones are golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 6 individual crème caramels
“Back to Baking”, pp. 197
Last weekend I had several egg yolks leftover from making Swiss buttercream for a birthday cake, so I decided to take the opportunity to make this crème caramel recipe to use them up. It was an interesting dessert to make and not too complicated. I really enjoyed making the caramel, letting it harden and topping it with the egg and green tea-infused milk mixture. These little green tea ginger crème caramel were pretty and very flavourful. The green tea flavour really came through and was just perfect, and I suspect that the strength of this flavour could really be dampened or heightened based on how long the green tea soaks in the milk. My mixture was set to medium-low so it took longer to get to a simmer and thus infused for longer. I did not detect the ginger flavour that much, but that is probably because I forgot to buy fresh ginger and used ground ginger instead. I used ¼ teaspoon to substitute the 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger, but I guess it was not sufficient. I would thus strongly advise to use fresh ginger for this recipe, if you have it!
Although I did like the flavour a lot, the texture of a crème caramel or flan is something that I do not enjoy. It is for the same reason that I do not like jello. It is not quite liquid but not solid either, and the mushy feeling as I eat it does not sit well with me. But that is more of a personal preference rather than something negative about the dessert. My boyfriend who has no such problem over textures really enjoyed this dessert. I must also say that I really struggled to get the crème caramel out of the ramekin, especially the caramel part, so I would advise making sure that you grease the sides of the ramekin really well. I still don’t know what the best trick would be to unmold the hardened caramel. If you like caramel, green tea, or both, I strongly suggest making this lovely dessert, especially if you find yourself with an excess of egg yolks to use up.
- 3 tablespoons water
- ¾ cup + ⅓ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 ½ cups milk
- 2 bags green tea or 1 tablespoon loose green tea
- 2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a saucepot, bring the water, ¾ cup of the sugar and cream of tartar up to a boil. Boil over high heat without stirring, but occasionally brushing the sides of the pot with water until the sugar caramelizes and becomes a nice amber colour, about 3 minutes.
Carefully pour the hot sugar into six 6-ounce (180 mL) ramekins and swirl to coat the bottom of the dishes. After the sugar has cooled, lightly grease the surface of the ramekins that is not coated with the caramel and place them into a larger pan that has sides that come up to at least the height of the ramekins.
- Heat the milk with the green tea and ginger until just below a simmer. Remove the tea bags, or, if using loose tea, strain out the tea.
- In a bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, yolks, remaining ⅓ cup of sugar and the vanilla extract. While still whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk. Ladle this mixture into the ramekins.
- Pour boiling water around the ramekins and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the custards are set but still have a little jiggle in the centre. Remove the ramekins from the water after they have cooled for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then chill until set, about 3 hours.
To serve, run a knife or palette knife around the inside of each dish, place a plate over each and invert, watching out for the caramel syrup that may run out. Serve on their own or with fresh berries. The custards will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.