Chocolate Fruitcake

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Helloooo February! The chocolate decadence month of the year!

It’s been a tough bunch of months but I’m finally seeing the light and so I’ll be back more often with more yummy posts.  I promise, no long hiatus again.

A goal for this year will be to move to self hosting. I hear it’s the better way to go and if I’m committed enough to posting what I plan on, it should be incentive to take this step.

I have been experimenting in my kitchen these past months, so don’t think it’s all been wasted. However, my Christmas cookies were just about a complete fail and I was lucky to give out what I did. So bad in fact that I didn’t even take any pictures of them. I realized I tried to take on too much and it all just flopped. I even tried a Croquembouche and it collapsed as I was nearing the top of it. I planned less but as time when on I felt like it wouldn’t be enough. Lesson learned.

I recently had the idea to gather all of our family recipes and compile them into a cookbook for the family to have. I was craving my grandfather’s scalloped potatoes but my mom wasn’t home to send me the recipe and I needed to make dinner.  I looked up something online, not exactly what I wanted but it worked. So I’ll be talking with my aunts and mom to bring all of our family recipes together so they won’t be lost in the future. I may even share some here.

Now, time to talk fruitcake! Trust me, this isn’t your grandma’s fruitcake! It’s moist and full of dried fruit minus the icky candied rinds and CHOCOLATE! Even the hubby went back for a second piece, so you know it was good. It’s not overly sweet either so going back for a second slice won’t overload the tastebuds. This will definitely be added to my holiday baking next year.

You’ll need to pull out your food scale for this recipe. It’s the only way to go to get precise, repeatable outcomes with baking. Trust me, the $15-20 investment for a decent food scale will make a world of difference in your baking.

Decorate the top with whatever you want, I made this for Christmas dinner and used mini rolos, mini chocolate chips and I added red and green edible glitter just for the color and sparkle.  I don’t have any pictures out of the pan because it had to travel down to my mother’s, it was still warm from the oven, and she has terrible lighting at her place. Feel free to omit the green glitter and add some mini red and pink candies, anything your heart desires.

 

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I do hope you have some leftover dried fruit to give this a go when you need a not-so-sweet boost.🙂

Chocolate Fruitcake
Modified from Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Fruit Cake

350 grams of dried prunes
250 grams raisins
125 grams currents
175 grams unsalted butter, softened
175 grams brown sugar
175 ml (grams) honey
2 oranges, zested and juiced
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tblsp cocoa powder
3 eggs, slightly wisked
150 grams all-purpose flour
75 grams almond flour/meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Decorations: mini rolos, mini chocolate chips, edible glitter

Grease a springform pan with shorting and line with parchment paper. Set aside.

Cut up prunes to bite-sized pieces then add fruit, butter, sugar, honey, orange zest and juice, spices and cocoa to a sauce pan. Heat until it reaches a gentle boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 30 minutes. Add eggs, flour, almond flour, baking powder, and baking soda to mixture.  Stir gently to combine. Pour batter into prepared springform pan and bake at 300 deg for 1 3/4 to 2 hours or until cake is firm but a little shiny. It’s ok if it’s slightly underdone. It will finish firming up as cooling. Once cool, decorate as desired. Remove from pan and enjoy!

Copyright 2015 – The Trial and Error Kitchen

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Peace Rose Sugar Cookies

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Ah Spring! This really is my favorite time of year (minus the allergy attacks, of course).  Trees are budding, some blooming, sunny daffodils, colorful tulips and crocuses greet you every where you look.  The world is waking up from its long winter sleep and is taking on a light green hue.  It’s quite lovely. Not far from now things will be in full leaf and the roses will be blooming too…oh but why wait! You can make your own roses in your kitchen! A dozen or two if you want.  Bonus, you can eat them too!

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All joking aside, I made these pretty little things for my mom’s birthday last summer and knew I would have to share them with the world at some point.  One of her favorite roses are peace roses and so, I made she some.  I had her party at a local tea shop and these were the favors, along with some butterflies and a gorgeous lavender strawberry cake (that may be posted in the future).  I researched how to make these here and actually got the idea from the cookie goddess herself Sweet Sugar Belle.  Her cookies are beyond insane and she must have the patience of a saint to be able to create what she does.  #foodart

I made one batch of the royal icing, leaving a cup stiff and the remainder medium consistency and split that into thirds with two-thirds going to the yellow and one-third the light pink. I played with the icing, some I left to dry a little to get the 3-D effect and some I wanted to be a flat design.  Either way they were a big hit and were very pretty.  Plus having a light lemony flavor didn’t hurt.

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I don’t like regular royal icing.  Just does not palette well. To me it tastes like chalk, ewwww!  Thankfully I experimented and found a recipe that uses lemon juice instead of water and eureka I found something I liked and could eat on a cookie!

Now the art behind thinning out royal icing is all about the feel and flow of it. I say art because it comes down to the individual what is the right consistency that they are trying to achieve.  If you want a walk-through of the different consistencies, go here.  It’s all laid out for you.  I refer to it all the time when I’m decorating cookies. Also, here is where I found a step-by-step tutorial to create these beauties. Just imagine the possibilities that can be made with different colors blended together.

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The sugar cookie recipe is from one of my favorite bloggers, Sweetapolita.  If you have never looked at her site, go now.  She helped me conquer my fear of Swiss Meringue Buttercream and has inspired many of the cakes and goodies I have made over the past 4 years. I’ve modified her cookie recipe by cutting it in half except for the extracts, the added lemon zest and reduced the amount of fridge time.  One, my mixer can’t handle that much cookie batter safely and two, I like my cookies to have a little more flavor and three, there was a lot of time that I thought unnecessary in the fridge and in my little kitchen it took FOREVER. I swear I was making cookies for four hours when I followed her recipe exactly (and that was after the first chill). However, she too is amazing with her beautiful photography and artistic flair.
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Peace Rose Sugar Cookies
Modified from http://sweetapolita.com/2011/03/steps-to-making-the-perfect-sugar-cookie-and-cookie-pop/
Makes about 15 Medium-sized Cookies

Ingredients

Sugar Cookies

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp lemon extract

In a mixer with its paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).  Mix in the egg completely.  Add in the flour and salt until well combined.  Add the vanilla and lemon extracts.  Remove from bowl, form into a 1-inch disc and place in a large piece of plastic wrap, covering completely.  Cool in refrigerator for a half hour. After the dough is cool, remove from plastic wrap and sandwich dough between two sheets of parchment or wax paper on a large cutting board.  With a rolling pin, roll the dough to a 1/4 inch in thickness. Place the cutting board and its contents in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. Once cool, pull out the cutting board, cut the shapes of your choice and place cut cookies onto a lined baking sheet.  Place baking sheet in freezer for 5-10 minutes before baking.

Royal Icing

  • 2 lbs (one bag) powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp meringue powder
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice

Add dry ingredients to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  Slowly add lemon juice to the bowl with mixer on low. The mixture will be very liquidy. Increase speed to medium-high until stiff peaks form, about 7-10 minutes.  Stop mixing as soon as the icing becomes stiff.  Royal icing will keep at room temperature for a least one month and longer in the fridge.  If need to refresh, whip for a minute or two and it’ll be like new. If coloring, add color gel first prior to thinning to a different consistency.

Making the Roses

  • 1 cup Yellow royal icing (flood consistency)
  • 1/2 cup Light Pink royal icing  (medium-flood consistency)  (somewhere between medium and flood)
  • 1/2 cup Dark Pink royal icing (stiff consistency) with a #1 tip

Start with a five petal base in yellow icing, three small and two big petals. (If making 3-D roses, let the base dry for an hour then continue with the following steps.) Add dark pink outline starting with a spiral in the middle of the rose. Add the petal details starting from the center out. Add dimension with the light pink to the edges of the petals. Let dry for at least 12-24 hours before stacking.

 

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