Making these is such easy, sweet surrender. They’re so simple to whip up, decorate and devour that you can spend your saved time basking in the various and glorious compliments headed your way at which ever Christmas parties you choose to grace with your be-caked presence. There’s no dallying about with months of fruit-based stewing, no marzipan tracery, no multiple hours leaning sweatily over a stove hoping your steamed pudding isn’t going to explode in its seventh hour of stove-top sauna. These bejeweled beauties will only take the time needed to get to the end of a Christmas album. Merry Christmas, fellow culinary sleuths.
Preheat oven to 160°C
Line a 12 cupcake tray with cases
250g dried fruit
1 orange, zest and juice
1 lemon, zest and juice
150ml whisky/ brandy/ rum ( or more if you’re wanting more booziness!)
200g soft brown sugar
2tbsp marmalade or apricot jam
175g plain flour
1/2tsp baking powder
2tsp mixed spice
1/2tsp ground cardamom
50g whole almonds
250g bag of trial mix
3tbsp marmalade or apricot jam
1tbsp icing sugar
- Pop your fruits, zests, juices and whisky into a heavy bottomed pan and heat up slowly until you’ve got a calm simmer. Once at this point, add your butter, sugar and marmalade or jam. There’s no difference between them, it just depends which one you like more/ happen to have available in your cupboard. Stir until it thickens and all comes together into a gluggy, boozy mass. Take of the heat and put it aside to cool down.
- Grab a large mixing bowl and measure your flour, baking powder and spices into it. Provided it’s not too hot (leave to cool for a good 10 minutes or so before plonking it in), scoop out your fruity mix into the bowl.
- Add the eggs and the almond and beat hard to bring it all together into one thick, fragrant mass. It should plop off your spoon fairly easily if you give the spoon a hearty thwack against the side of the bowl. If it’s not loose enough, add a glug of milk and mix again until it will.
- Spoon a dessert spoon’s worth into your cases and smooth over the tops. This is easier if you have a cup of boiling water to the side in which you keep dipping the spoon to get rid of excess mixture. Once they’re all ready, whack them into your preheated oven and set a timer for 20mins.
- When your timer goes off, release them from heat jail and make sure they’re cooked by sticking a clean knife right into the middle of one. If the knife comes out totally clean, you’re done. If it has little mixtures smears, pop them back in for another 5minutes or until it comes out clean. Leave them to cool down.
- Meanwhile, get started with decorations preparations. Tip out your bag of trial mix into a big old bowl. Feel free to snack (with restraint), you’re probably not going to need all of them. Boil the kettle. Add the 3tbsp of marmalade/ jam into a small bowl and pour over enough boiled water to just about cover it- don’t go mad. Add the icing sugar and mix it all together until you have a loose-ish gluey consistency.
- Pour your fruit glue into the trail mix, reserving just a little in your small bowl. Mix it all up so that everything gets a really good covering. Use a pastry brush (or your fingers are fine if you don’t happen to own such a thing. Don’t lick them though), to cover the tops of your cooled cakes with the reserved jam. Take them out of their tray and pop them on a flat surface.
- What happens next is, essentially, that you grab handfuls of your sticky fruits and nuts and you pile them up on top of your cakes and press down until they stay in place. It’s a bit messy and things will fall off but it’s fine, plus they’ll harden up as they dry. As long as you’ve flattened out your little cakes before you cooked them then you won’t have too much trouble. If they’ve mounded in the oven as they baked, feel free to cut them down to size a little.
- Once your cakes are all satisfyingly and entirely covered, just leave them to set and harden up. Congratulate yourself on your wily, culinary ways by drinking a little of whichever tipple you’ve chosen to include in your cakes.
They’ll last for 4-5 days in an airtight container so you’ve even got plenty of time to pre-make them and then amble along to parties at your leisure. They also make great little presents, or use them to decorate your Christmas table nicely if you’re looking for a pudding but cannot be fluffed to spend ungodly hours titivating.
You can see more from Mimi on her food blog, My Goodness Mimi.
Words and Images by Mimi Biggadike