Port and Chocolate Christmas Cake is a lovely twist on a classic boiled Christmas cake. Luxuriously Port soaked fruit and decadent dark chocolate make for a luscious cake.
Each Christmas I’m reminded by a couple of close friends how much they don’t like fruit cakes. It’s okay guys, I’ll eat your share!
My mum’s traditional Christmas cake is the usual fruitcake staple each year. This year I decided to change things up with a Port and Chocolate Christmas Cake.
Port, or fortified wine as we Aussies call it, is a little unusual but great addition to fruitcake. I normally thing rum or brandy, it’s a spirit I don’t usually associate with Christmas cakes. Then there’s the chocolate, generally there is no room for chocolate in a Christmas fruitcake.
But when you soak dried fruit for a week or two in port. Yes I love good boozy soaked fruit as the base of any Christmas cake. Add some chocolate in, which goes marvellously with Port, and you are on to a winner.
You won’t find glace cherries in my cake, instead the Port and Chocolate Christmas Cake is studded with tart dried cherries. I leave the glace fruit for the other Christmas cake I make each year.
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I decorated it simply with blanched almonds and pecans. Why pecans? A little personal homage to the USA where I purchased these particular dried cherries. I love picking up ingredients in my travels. I discovered these in the cherry capital of America, Traverse City, Michigan.
If you can’t find dried cherries, dried cranberries would make a great substitute. Of course you could sweeten up the whole affair and use glace cherries if that’s what you would prefer.
With a few Christmas fruitcakes on Belly Rumbles now, I think I will have to create a decadently spiced cake for Christmas next year. Something for my fruitcake hating loved ones. What do you think?
Port and Chocolate Christmas Cake
A rich and decadent Christmas Cake. A little boozy but a lot nice. Chocolate and dried cherries are a sweet flavour surprise in this cake.
Important Note: Start soaking your fruit at least 24 hours before baking the cake. I soak my fruit minimum one week.
Soaking Fruit Ingredients
- 400 grams sultanas
- 400 grams raisins
- 300 grams dried cherries
- 2.5 cups port
- 1/3 cup treacle
- 1 orange, zest and juice
- 250 grams butter
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups plain flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon mixed spice
- 1 tablespoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 200 grams dark chocolate, chopped
- pecans and blanched almonds to decorate
- extra port for brushing
Soaking the Fruit
Place sultanas, raisins and dried cherries in a large plastic container with a lid. Pour port over and mix well. Soak for a minimum of 24 hours (see notes).
Making the Cake
Grease and line a 23cm (9") round cake tin. Wrap the outside of the tin with a couple of sheets of brown paper, secured with baking string.
If you are using a modern thick walled cake tin you can skip the brown paper step.
Preheat oven 150 deg C (300 deg F).
Stir treacle, orange juice and zest to the fruit mixture.
Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand beaters until pale.
Add sugar and vanilla bean paste to butter, continue beating until sugar has dissolved.
Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.
Remove bowl from stand mixer if using.
Add fruit and chocolate to the butter and egg mixture, mix until well combined.
Add flour, baking powder and spices, mixing until just combined.
Pour cake batter into cake tin. Using the back of smooth the surface of the cake out evenly.
Decorate the top of the cake with pecans and blanched almonds.
Place cake in the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 3 - 3.5 hours.
Cake is ready when inserted skewer comes out clean.
Remove cake from oven and brush the top with extra port. Wrap cake in a towel and leave to cool. This may take several hours.
Once cooled store cake in an airtight container.
Fruit should be soaked for at least 24 hours. The longer the better in my book. I prefer to soak my fruit for at least a week, 2 is even better.
If only soaking fruit for 24 hours it is fine to leave on the kitchen bench in a container with a lid.
If soaking fruit for longer, due to the Australian summer, I store it in the fridge to soak.
Make sure to stir you fruit ever so often to entice all the fruit to soak up the booze. If the fruit is thirsty and has soaked the port all up in a couple of days, and another 1/2 cup more.
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