Monthly Archives: December 2014

Fruitcake Smackdown: Loaf version!

Eating time!

Eating time!

I love fruitcake. There. I’ve said it. I know it’s much maligned, but I really do love it. My mother used to make it when I was younger, and I used to hold up the slices to the light and try to see through the fruitcake, imagining that the candied fruits were pieces in a stained glass window. The candied pineapple was my favourite, because it was in bigger chunks and you could see through it better; then I ate the red cherries, then the green, and then the candied citrus peel. The raisins, currants, and nuts were eaten last, along with the rest of the slice. Are you a fruitcake-lover? Let me know in the comments!

I really don’t know why fruitcake gets such a bad rap — it’s delicious! Fruity and fragrant and moist, it’s a mouthful of yummy-ness! I wish it was around for more than just Christmas-time. And in that vein, Christmas may be over, but I want me some fruitcake, so a fruitcake recipe smackdown it is! I’ll be making fruitcake today, and fruitcake bars next. So not quite apples to apples, but apples to oranges. Eh. It’s all fruit!

I bought the candied fruits before Christmas, and I have to say, even though I bought them at a bulk store, they weren’t exactly cheap. Christy of Southernplate.com says that her mother buys candied fruit after the holidays, when it’s on sale, and then keeps it in her freezer until the holidays roll around the following year. I may have to try that! I couldn’t find any candied pineapple, so…I made my own! Using this recipe. It was pretty easy. Easier still? Buying it! But I wanted to bake tonight, so make it, I did.

I bookmarked lots of different fruitcake recipes, and then modified a few to come up with my own version. Want to bake some delicious fruitcake yourself? Let’s!

Prepping the fruit -- just add alcohol!

Prepping the fruit — just add alcohol!

Rummy Fruitcake

  • 1/4 c. rum
  • 1/2 c. candied cherries, red and green each (so 1 c. total)
  • 1/2 c. candied citrus peel
  • 1 c. candied pineapple
  • 1 c. pecan halves
  • 1 c. cranberries
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c. and 1 tbsp. of brown sugar
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice

Mix together all the candied fruits and stir with the rum. Let sit for at least an hour, preferably until all the liquid has been absorbed, stirring occasionally. Beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Beat in eggs and extracts. Mix in 1/2 c. flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and allspice. Mix 1/2 c. flour with fruit and nuts. Stir fruit and nuts into batter. Pour batter into a prepared loaf pan (I lined mine with parchment paper). Bake in 275 degree oven for 3 hours, or until knife inserted comes out clean.

Pre-baking -- dough is tasty! Ask me how I know.

Pre-baking — dough is tasty! Ask me how I know.

Pro Tip: Fruitcakes need to bake on low temperatures, which is why they bake for so long. If you find your fruitcake is getting dry on top, put a container of water in the oven along with the fruitcake. The water will evaporate and help keep the fruitcake moist.

Basically, this cake is candied fruit and nuts, held together by a smidgen of dough. I don’t like the classic raisins in a fruitcake, so I used dried cranberries, and I prefer pecans over walnuts or any other nut in a fruitcake, so that’s what I used. But feel free to substitute! I’m going to baste this cake in rum as is (I couldn’t find cheesecloth at my local store), repeating until the DH comes home. Then it’s time to eat the cake! Unless I taste a slice, you know, for taste-testing smackdown purposes. I think that’s a good reason!

In the meantime, I’ll making fruitcake bars, that I can eat before the DH comes back. Knowing my penchant for snacking and my love of fruitcake, I don’t expect any of the fruitcake bars to be around when he’s back. Ah well. Lots of salad for meals to make up for it!

Next Post: Either the fruitcake bars, or a Bake-a-Long recipe. Preferences?  

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!

It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas…

 

…probably, because it IS!

Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad to all!

Sweet, sugary noms!

Sweet, sugary noms!

The DH is away for the holidays, visiting family in Venezuela (illness in the family, positive energy appreciated), so I’m spending my evenings after work baking ALL the things! Followed promptly by eating all the things. Followed less promptly by cleaning all the things.

This is the gingerbread house I made with the leftover gingerbread dough from the gingerbread men that I made as little gifts/here-I-thought-of-you-plus-a-card for colleagues. And then I scrounged around for candy to decorate it with. Apparently I have a lot of candy lying around the house. I don’t know if you can see it, but there are little gingerbread men doo-dad thingies (those sprinkle thingies, what are they called?) on the mini Christmas tree shrub beside the house/cottage/rustic chapel-esque building. Aren’t they adorbs? Totes adorbs! say blog readers, channeling 12- year-old texting tweens. It’s not the fanciest gingerbread house, obviously, but for leftover dough and scrounged candy, I think it’s cute, in a slap-dash sort of way!

Since it’s Thursday, it’s time for Memories of Meals Past! This gingerbread house qualifies since I made it on Monday evening. (I love making up blog rules. So freeing! So liberating! So bendable to my will!) I used a royal icing recipe from Wilton, this one, since I couldn’t find my mum’s tried-and-true version. It’s a good recipe — beats up nice and glossy, but I still can’t find the perfect recipe. I think I prefer my mum’s over this one, as this one is a bit too thick. Or maybe I just used the wrong piping tip. Totally likely. Meh. Still tasty!

Hope you’re enjoying lots of tasty things today, with friends and family! And here’s to a fabulous food-and-alliteration-filled 2015!

Next Post: Probably about New Year’s resolutions. And salad. Because I ate all the things (see above).

Candy Confections: White Chocolate Candy Cane Bark

Plated and ready to be devoured. At least what's left of it.

Plated and ready to be devoured. At least what’s left of it.

Creamy white chocolate in holiday colours with a sprinkle of crushed candy cane on top — what’s not to like? Just like my Customize-Your-Own Chocolate Bar, this would make for great Christmas gifts!

I thought this up after seeing variations on foodie sites, and whipped it up yesterday. Oh so good! I was hard-pressed not to eat it all last night, but managed to save most of it for a gathering of friends at my place today. Where it was all eaten! Down to the very last crumb. I think that means it was good!

Let’s make some! (Because I want more. Because it’s so good.)

putting it kind of together

Yes, it’s this easy. And crushing candy canes is fun!

White Chocolate Candy Cane Bark

  • Belgian white chocolate wafers
  • green coloured chocolate wafers (a smaller amount)
  • red coloured chocolate wafers (a smaller amount)
  • candy canes

Choose a plastic container (I used a fast-food container — a plastic one, not a Styrofoam one). Melt the white chocolate in a mug or ceramic vessel in the microwave, using 15 second bursts, and stirring in between. Once melted, pour into the plastic container. Melt the red chocolate the same way, and drizzle if over the white chocolate. Do the same for the green chocolate wafers. Using a knife, swirl the colours together gently. Crush your candy canes with a mortar and pestle (or a baggie and a rolling pin) and sprinkle on top of the chocolate. Cool in fridge until chocolate is set. Turn over onto a clean plate, and smack the bottom of the plastic container until the chocolate comes out. Break into small pieces and eat! Or give away as gifts. Or serve to friends. (But it’s so good that you’ll want to eat it all yourself!)

Swirl and sprinkle. Marble-y goodness!

Swirl and sprinkle. Marble-y goodness!

As in the Customize-Your-Own Chocolate Bar post, I’m not giving quantities, because it really depends on the size of the container that you use. And on how thick you want the bark. My advice is not to make it too thick, because it will be hard to break. And remember, you can always re-melt the chocolate or add another layer!

This is such an easy recipe, you’ve got to try it! It looks fancy, but I always feel like I’m cheating by making it, because I’m really just melting chocolate, swirling, and sprinkling. It’s also not TOO peppermint-y, which I like. You could probably up the peppermint factor by adding another layer on chocolate and swirls on top, but I like it as is. If you make, let me know what you thought of it in the comments!

Next Post: Maybe a review of the Gingerbread Buche de Noel from the Cook-A-Long I’m in? Tasty seasonal fun!

Linking Up at Candy Plan Monday!

Candy Confections: Make-Your-Own Customized Chocolate Bar

Wrapped and ready to be gifted! Or eaten. By me.

Wrapped and ready to be gifted! Or eaten. By me.

I went on a weekend road trip with some friends last week, doing some cross-border Christmas shopping (I *may* have done some shopping for myself) in the Niagara/Buffalo area. My friends and I went into a shopping area in Niagara and saw a candy shop, which of course I had to go into. It was a make-your-own chocolate bar shop, with walls of chocolate and candy, as far as the eye could see. There were some children there, making their own chocolate bars, and I watched as the staff instructed them through the process. When I realized how simple it was, I couldn’t believe that people paid a premium for it.  So obviously I had to replicate it for myself!

This makes for a great last-minute Christmas gift, especially if you want to get children involved in gift-giving. They can choose the candy toppings, and actually help with the whole process, because it’s just so unbelievably simple. I also think this would be a great activity for a kids’ birthday party — the kids could go home with their own customized chocolate bar! Activity and loot bag in one!

Have I piqued your curiosity and/or appetite yet? Let’s get candy-making!

All you need: candy and chocolate wafers. And the willpower not to eat it all right away.

All you need: candy and chocolate wafers. And the willpower not to eat it all right away.

Make-Your-Own Customized Chocolate Bar

  • Belgian chocolate wafers (white, milk, or dark chocolate)
  • assorted candy
  • a plastic container

Melt the wafers in a mug in the microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring it each time you check it. When it is melted, pour it into your plastic container. (You don’t need a fancy chocolate mold — I used a mini Ikea food storage container. As long as it’s plastic, it’s all good!) Give the container a good tap on the counter to get any air bubbles out. Sprinkle the candies on top. Place in fridge until chocolate is set. Turn container upside down and de-mold. Wrap in a cellophane bag. Keep in a cool place until eaten. Revel in your inner Charlie-And-The-Chocolate-Factory!

Customize away! And then eat the leftovers. #wastenotwantnot (especially in regards to candy!)

Customize away! And then eat the leftovers. #wastenotwantnot (especially in regards to candy!)

I didn’t provide any quantities in the recipe ingredients, because it really depends on the size of your plastic container and your personal candy preference. The combos are endless: white chocolate bar with malted milk balls; rice krispies in milk chocolate; the list goes on! What’s your favourite chocolate & candy combo? Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: More candy confections! This time, Chocolate Candy Cane Bark!

Linking Up at Candy Plan Monday!

Tasty Tapas: Veggie Croquetas

Warm and crunchy and lightly seasoned!

Warm and crunchy and lightly seasoned!

Ok, finally I have a chance to post that last tapas recipe I’ve been writing about, my yummy Veggie Croquetas! I actually grew up thinking that croquettes were Dutch, as I had only eaten them in Holland, when I went there on a trip with my family. Apparently, though, a number of different cultures have their own version, and the Spanish version uses béchamel sauce (white sauce) as a base. So that’s what I did!

Croquetas seem to me to be basically a way to use up leftovers, so I tossed in some taco-seasoned soy meat (the same seasoned meat that I used for the Easy Empanadillas) with some mashed potatoes, béchamel sauce, and green beans from my freezer, shaped them into log shapes, and rolled them in bread crumbs, before frying them up in a frying pan of oil. Low-calorie, these are not! But they are tasty! Want to make some?

Let’s get frying!

Caveat Eat-or {sic}: I realized when writing this recipe that I have somehow misplaced the quantities that I used when making up this recipe. So I’m going to give you the basics for the béchamel sauce, and then leave you to add in enough of the remaining filling ingredients to your taste. Feel free to substitute in what you want — use up those leftovers! As long as the filling is firm enough to hold its shape when cooking, it’s all good.

Veggie Croquetas

Béchamel Sauce

  •  2 tbsp. flour
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 1/2 c. milk

Filling

  • seasoned ground meat (soy, baby!)
  • green beans, finely chopped
  • mashed potato

Coating

  • bread crumbs
  • enough oil to fill a frying pan an inch deep

Melt butter in pot, and add in flour, stirring to cook the flour. Slowly whisk in milk. Voila, you’ve got a béchamel sauce going on!

Making the croquetas: it's really not that hard.

Making the croquetas: it’s really not that hard.

Mix béchamel sauce with the seasoned meat, the chopped green beans, and the mashed potato, to form the filling. Heat oil. While oil is heating, form filling into small logs (or whatever shape you want!) with your hands and set aside. Roll each croqueta in the bread crumbs, making sure to coat thoroughly. Fry in the oil-filled frying pan until golden brown on each side. To cool and drain off any excess oil, set on a cookie cooling rack covered with a paper towel. Serve warm, or cold, and feel very Spanish and cultured!

Cooling them slightly on a cookie rack. The one on the right is shaped the best.

Cooling them slightly on a cookie rack. The ones on the left and the right are shaped the best.

And that’s the last of my tapas party recipes! To recap, I made Super-Fruity Sangria; Easy Empanadillas; today’s recipe, Veggie Croquetas; and my Caramel Toffee Flan. Was a fun and tasty time — I do love a good themed dinner!

Next Post: Hmm. Not sure! I have a Brandy Ball recipe that someone gave to me that I want to try out; two different fruitcake (what? I love fruitcake!) recipes that I might turn into a Christmas Fruitcake Smackdown; a recipe for chocolate-mint homemade oreos that I want to try out; and then I want to make a batch of cookies for the DH’s work. I have some bok choy that is starting to wilt in my fridge, but I’m kind of miserable with a cold right now, and craving comfort food, so the chocolate-mint oreos are winning! I’m thinking of dipping them in chocolate for that extra yumminess! What do you think? Let me know in the comments!