Though it's really just a little late to prepare this cake (you could just about manage it if you baked tomorrow), I couldn't really not put it up on this blog, as the combination of the classic rich fruitcake with chocolate is just something else.
This cake really is indulgence on a plate, a must for anyone who loves Christmas and anyone who loves chocolate. Kids really tend to love this one and it's a great introduction to Christmas cake for the wary.
Just beware, it really is rich and small pieces go a long way... it keeps well, but by New Year you're unlikely to have much left.
Of course, like all rich, fruited, Christmas cakes this also makes a fabulous base for a birthday or a wedding cake.
Here you can find a link to all the Christmas and all the other Twelve Days of Christmas recipes published on this blog... a true treasure-trove of seasonal dishes.
Rich Port and Chocolate Christmas CakeServes: 12
340g (2 cups) pitted prunes
375g (2 1/2 cups) currants
375g (2 1/2 cups) raisins
300ml (1 1/4 cups) port wine
250g (1 1/4 cups) butter, diced
1 tbsp vanilla extract
200g (1 cup, packed), dark brown sugar
juice of 1 orange
finely-grated zest of 1 orange
80ml treacle (molasses)
180g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour
60g (1/2 cup) self-raising flour
1 tbsp mixed spice (pumpkin pie spice)
1 tbsp freshly-grated nutmeg
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
200g (1 1/2 cups) dark cooking chocolate, chopped
250g (2 cups) glacé cherries
200g (2 cups) walnut halves
Method:Chop the prunes finely then mix in a large bowl with the currants, raisins and 250ml (1 cup) of the port. Cover and set aside to infuse for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
In the meantime, grease a 23cm (9") round springform cake tin with butter then line the base and sides with greaseproof (waxed paper), ensuring that the paper rises 5cm (2 inches) above the rim of the cake tin.
Take brown paper and tie a double layer securely around the sides of the tin (this will help prevent the outside of the cake from baking too quickly).
When the fruit has soaked sufficiently, add the orange zest, orange juice and treacle to the fruit, then stir to combine.
Combine the chopped chocolate, cherries and walnuts in a mixing bowl. Add the sifted flours to the bowl and stir gently to combine.
Finely chop the butter and add to a bowl then beat until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, beating to combine. Add the sugar and cream with the butter until pale and fluffy (ensure that all the sugar has dissolved). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly to combine after each addition.
Add the egg and butter mix to the fruit mix, stirring well to combine. Now stir in the flour mixture, stirring well to combine before spooning the batter into the cake tin.
Transfer the cake to an oven pre-heated to 160ºC (310ºF) and bake for between 3 and 3 1/2 hours, or until a skewer inserted in the centre emerges cleanly.
Remove the cake from the oven and pour over 3 tbsp extra port then wrap everything (cake, tin and all) in a clean cloth. Set aside for 24 hours, or until completely cold.
The following day, unwrap the cake then cover in a double layer of greaseproof (waxed) paper, followed by a double layer of kitchen foil. Store in an air-tight tin.
Every week before Christmas, use a skewer to poke several holes in the cake, then pour over a little more port (this is 'feeding' the cake).
A few days before Christmas you should ice the cake. Cover with marmalade or apricot jam then cover with a layer of marzipan (almond cake) before coating in icing.
This is a very rich cake and small pieces go very far.
If you are not fond of the traditional icing, glaze the cake with melted apricot jam, decorate with fruit and nuts, then glaze over the top of everything with more melted jam.