Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Recipe: Christmas time's acoming!

Okay, maybe Christmas is still a ways away.   We are just finishing Thanksgiving and getting ready for Halloween.  I am one of those people that dread the coming holiday consumer rush as each store outdoes itself to be first with the decorations and advertising pressuring one to find the gift that you cannot live without giving or receiving.  There are some things that have to be done in the proper time.  Christmas cake is one of them.

So many people remember the brick of cake that becomes the foundation of many jokes.  They are funny because they are true.  Think about the fruit cake that must have been regifted.  Every year. The one with the marzipan topping?  Remember it?  Good.  Now forget all that.

Last year, I began to make my own Christmas cake based on a recipe from edible TO.  This post is really about breaking down a recipe and rebuilding it in your own desires -- Six Million Dollar Man style.  The basic recipe ratio is: 3 cups dried fruit : 1 cup liquor : 2 tsp or so of spices (depends on strength of spice) : 1 cup nuts (substitute something else if you want) : 1 recipe of batter.

The recipe at edible TO require a minimum soak of 24 hours followed by 5-6 weeks of curing before serving, so the cupcakes, yup that's right, this recipe is about muffins, go into the oven 2nd week of November to be ready for a Christmas meal or gift.

There are a number of different options for flavouring the cake.

Choose the booze and accent:  Use fruits that are in the alcohol that you are using.  For instance, using Grand Marnier, amp up the mixed peel and add extra lemon or cranberries.

Choose the booze as a base note:  Dark rum as a base for figs, currants, and prunes with toasted hazelnuts as the nut components.

Use a spice palette as a guide:  Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves with dried apple, raisins, and pear with light rum, or try coconut rum, papaya, mango, dried coconut, macadamia nuts, nutmeg, allspice for an island taste.

I am thinking about trying a coconut, curry, ginger combination with maybe a ginger liquor but I haven't quite figured it out.  

The point is that any recipe can be used as a jumping off point if you allow yourself some latitude in trying to discover what makes the recipe tick.  Let me know if you try some combination that rocks or doesn't.  Sometimes failure is more informative than success.

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