Very Fruity Mini Whiskey Fruitcakes

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: 12 mini fruitcakes
Recipe: 118/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 249

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    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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300°F and grease twelve mini loaf pans (2 ¼ x 4 x 1 ¼-inch).
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt over the fruit mixture and stir until incorporated.
  4. Cut the orange into quarters, remove the seeds and purée in a food processor with the brown sugar.
  5. Add the eggs and vanilla extract to the food processor and blend until homogenous. Pour over the fruits and stil well until blended.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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Valerie

Pecan-Topped Applesauce Coffee Cake

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: one 9-inch coffee cake
Recipe: 104/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 215

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     I have always loved Fall since I can remember. The beautiful leaves changing colours, the cooler weather, the sweaters, comforting soups and hot chocolates. But most of all, I love the apple season, especially apple-picking. For a record this year we went apple-picking three times! We probably picked a total of 50 pounds of apples, so needless to say I had plenty of apples to choose from to make a nice apple recipe. I thought that this apple and pecan cake recipe looked perfect to use some nice apples that were going soft. Although the apple flavour was more subtle than I was expecting, the coffee cake was good and very moist. The topping was a nice combination of sweet and crunchy. Definitely I nice cake to have with coffee, tea or hot chocolate!

Ingredients for cake:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup oil
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Ingredients for topping:

  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped pecan pieces
  • 1 peeled apple, coarsely grated

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs just to blend.
  3. Whisk in the applesauce, brown sugar and oil until smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Stir this into the applesauce mixture until evenly combined.
  5. Scrape the batter into the springform pan and prepare the topping.
  6. To prepare the topping, stir together the brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, then stir in the pecans and the grated apple. Spread this over the cake batter.
  7. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake to room temperature, then remove the cake from the pan before serving.

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Note:

  • If you wish you can easily make the unsweetened applesauce yourself instead of buying it. To do so, simply place in a pot 3 pound of peeled, sliced and cored apples, ½ cup of water and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon. Set to medium heat, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the apples are soft. Use a potato masher or immersion blender to puree the apples. Let cool and voilà! Homemade unsweetened applesauce. Recipe from Life Made Simple.

 

Valerie

Raspberry Pecan Tart

Pies and Tarts

Yield: one 9-inch tart
Recipe: 102/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 116

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     After several months of not posting any new recipes from Anna’s cookbook, I decided that it was time to remedy this! I “owed” my boyfriend two cakes due to two lost bets, and as per his request I made this delicious-looking raspberry and pecan tart, two of his favourite foods. I was happy to finally have a recipe to do and a dessert to make, and it was no trouble at all to do. I am typically not a fantastic dough maker, but since I had already made the nut-crust tart shell required for this recipe, I new what to improve (add a bit more water to obtain the right texture! This is temperature- and kitchen-dependent!)  and got it perfectly right I think. The shell was easy to slice and bite through yet did not crumble to pieces. The tart itself was very good. The filling is slightly gooey with a nice crunch provided by the pecans, and the sweet burst of juice and flavour from the raspberries was very pleasant.  I was not expecting it, but the coconut was the perfect combination in this tart, providing both a good bite and some sweetness. We devoured it in a matter of days. Strongly recommended for an uncomplicated light dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Nut-Crust Tart Shell recipe, baked and cooled
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups roughly chopped pecans
  • 1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Place the pan containing the baked crust onto a baking tray until it cools down to room temperature.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, egg yolk and vanilla extract until blended.
  3. Stir in the pecans, coconut, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well to combine.
  4. Gently fold in the raspberries.
  5. Pour the mixture into the cooled crust and bake on the tray for about 45-50 minutes, until evenly browned and set. Cool the tart to room temperature in the pan before removing the outer ring of the pan to slice. The tart can be served at room temperature or chilled.

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Valerie

Light Fruitcake Ring

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: one 8-cup bundt cake
Recipe: 60/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 250

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   My dad is generally not a huge fan of desserts, but one thing he adores during the holiday season is fruitcake. He always receives the store-bought fruitcakes as a gift (the ones with the red and green cherries). I thought that this year I would make him a big fruitcake that he could enjoy endlessly. I am not an avid eater of fruitcake myself, but according to him this fruitcake is delicious and very tasty. Much better than the ones sold in stores, he claims. What I further like about this recipe is that it has many small steps but in the end, it is not so complicated. The hardest part, I think, is the 5-day waiting period before tasting it! I urge you to try this recipe if you or someone you know like fruitcakes. 

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup pecan pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted prunes
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried figs
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup diced Candied Citrus Peel
  • 3 oz. (85 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup amber rum (e.g. Bacardi Gold), plus extra for brushing cake
  • 2  1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2  1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Stir the pecans, prunes, figs, dates, apricots, citrus peel and chocolate with the rum. Cover and let sit for one hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°F and grease an 8-cup bundt pan.
  3. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, cloves and salt together. Add the fruit and rum mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well to combine.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, honey, milk and egg yolks. Stir this into the fruit mixture.
  5. Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the egg whites until the hold a medium peak when the beaters are lifted. Fold this into the cake batter in two additions.
  6. Spread this mixture into the prepared bundt pan and bake for about an hour, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake for 20 minutes in the pan, then turn it out to cool.
  7. While still warm, brush the surface of the cake with rum. Once completely cooled, brush the cake again with rum. Wrap and store the cake for 5 days before slicing.

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Valerie

Maple Pecan Chocolate Squares

Cookies, Bars and Biscotti

Yield: about 16 squares
Recipe: 47/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 60

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     I had pecans. I had chocolate. The only logical thing to do was to make the delicious-looking maple pecan chocolate squares seen in Anna’s cookbook. They looked rich and buttery, and they were exactly that! Uncomplicated to make, rich, chocolatey, buttery and crunchy (due to the pecans, of course!), these bars make the perfect dessert when in need of a little boost of energy. The addition of  maple syrup provides the much desired sweetness and distinct flavour. 

Ingredients for base:

  • 1  1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold

Ingredients for filling:

  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup *
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, making sure that the paper comes up the sides.
  2. In a bowl, stir together the flour, icing sugar and salt until well combined.
  3. Cut in the butter using your fingers or a food processor until the mixture is an even and crumbly texture. Press this mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes, until the edges are golden. Cool the crust while preparing the filling.
  4. For the filing, stir together with a hand or stand mixer the cornstarch, baking powder and cinnamon.
  5. Whisk in the eggs, maple syrup, butter, vanilla extract and vinegar or lemon juice until the mixture is homogenous.
  6. Stir in the pecan halves and the chocolate chips and mix well.
  7. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust and bake for about 25 minutes, until the outside edges of the filling are bubbling and the centre still has some movement when the pan is moved. Cool to room temperature, then chill completely for a couple of hours before slicing.

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Note:

* I used plain maple syrup as opposed to pure maple syrup and the squares where still delicious. Probably less rich and sweet than if I had used pure maple syrup, though!

Valerie