Two months from today is Christmas. Doesn't seem possible, but it is that close - so it is time to start the Christmas baking!
I'm going on record here and say that the following recipe is the ONLY fruitcake that I have EVER liked!! I'm not a fan of candied peels and dried fruits - except raisins - and the combinations of flavours in any other fruitcake that I've ever tried have never appealed to me. I've tried lots over the years but generally can tell by the "fruit" ingredients if it is worth tasting.
This recipe was in The Winnipeg Free Press almost 19 years ago in November 1989. I made it every year for about 15 years. I haven't made it for the last few years, as I've had less time and storage space but it is a fabulously Delicious recipe with the perfect combination of fruits, nuts and chocolate! It takes a bit of time but the preparation is actually very simple.
CHOCOLATE CHERRY FRUITCAKE
1pound/454 grams halved glace red cherries
1pound/454 grams dark raisins.
1/2 pound/225 grams slivered almonds
2 cups all purpose flour
3 one ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
1 cup butter or block margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup Kirsch or cherry brandy
The day before you make the cake; wash the cherries and raisins and allow to dry between two tea towels overnight. Washing and drying the fruit, removes all the gooey syrup from the cherries and any grit/sand from the raisins. Prepare the brown paper strips to line the pans. To do this cut a strip of paper that is wide enough to just cover the bottom of the pan and long enough to reach up the sides at either end and about 1-2 inches above the top of the pan on both ends. Then cut a piece that is long enough to cover the bottom of the pan and wide enough to reach up the sides of the pan and 1-2 inches above the top on either side. You will need four of each size.
Making the cake; Preheat the oven to 275F. Line two loaf pans with two layers of greased brown paper. (lay the strips on a cookie sheet and spray/brush with cooking oil. Alternate the layers in the pan - 1 lengthwise - 1 wide and repeat. It will make removing the cakes and storing much easier!)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cherries, raisins, almonds and 1/2 cup of the flour. Stir till fruit and nuts are all lightly coated.
Break up the chocolate and place in small bowl. Microwave on medium power, stirring after 1 minute, then after every 30 seconds until melted. set aside.
Cream butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy; gradually add sugar beating thoroughly. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add slightly cooled chocolate and vanilla and mix.
Combine the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour with the salt, cinnamon and baking powder. Add about 1/3 of the flour mix to the butter mixture and stir; then add about 1/2 the Kirsch to the mixture and stir to combine. Repeat the flour step, then the rest of the Kirsch, then the last of the flour.
Gradually add the fruit mixture to the rest of the batter and stir with a large wooden spoon to combine. The mixture should resemble muffin batter at this point. If it is to thin you may need to add a little more flour - about 1/4 cup at a time until proper consistency. If it is too stiff, add about a Tablespoon of Kirsch at a time.
Carefully spoon batter into prepared pans and spread batter evenly in both. Make sure that the paper stays up the sides the batter does not get between the layers. Place a shallow pan of water on the lower oven rack. Bake cakes in 275F oven for about 2 1/2 hours, covering the tops loosely with foil halfway through to prevent drying out.
Test cakes before removing from oven using the clean toothpick method. When done, cool completely in pans on wire racks - this will take several hours. Carefully lift the cakes out of the pans using the paper as lifters. Remove the outer layer of paper.
Paint the top of the cakes with more Kirsch (about 2 teaspoons/cake. Wrap the edges of the paper over the top then wrap each cake in plastic wrap. Place each cake in a plastic bag, secured with twist tie, and store in a cool dark place. (I kept mine in the fridge.)
Repaint the top of each cake with the Kirsch, once a week for 3 to 4 weeks.
Gift and serve as desired. Keeps indefinitely in the freezer.
NOTE: This recipe can be doubled and baked in set of three standard Christmas pans baking as follows; Small pan - 2 1/2 hours; Medium - 3 hours; Large - 3 1/2 hours. As with above, cover each loosely with foil about halfway through to prevent drying out. The three pan method could also be used to make a wedding cake.