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Chocolate Fruit Cake

Asked by lucy.khattak. Answered on 22nd December 2015

Full question

Hi, I would like to make the Chocolate Fruit Cake alcohol free, could I use coffee rather than Tia Maria? Also can you ice this cake like a traditional Xmas cake? Many thanks Lucy.

Please can you recommend an alternative liqueur for the Chocolate Fruit Cake as none of us are a fan of coffee flavour? Would Baileys or Cointreau work? Or another suggestion? Thank you.

How long can I leave the Chocolate Christmas Cake mixture to cool (recipe says 30 mins or longer if you wish) before baking in oven? Is it possible to leave it for 3 hours? Thanks!

Hi, I was just wondering if Nigella's Incredibly Easy Chocolate Fruit Cake could be made into muffins. My main concerns are that you obviously can't line a muffin pan in the way the recipe requires - with the outside paper lining, and also the always-present problem of converting the cooking time. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks, Lauren

Our answer

Nigella's Chocolate Fruit Cake (from Feast and on the Nigella website) is a great last-minute Christmas cake as it is very moist and does not require maturing or feeding. The recipe uses Tia Maria as the coffee helps to amplify the chocolate flavour in the cake. You can use freshly brewed coffee as a non-alcoholic alternative. Extra orange juice is another possibility, though it will give the cake a slight hint of chocolate orange. If you wanted to use an alternative liqueur then rum, or brandy, would be good alternatives.

The cake tends to sink a little in the centre so Nigella prefers to decorate the cake with edible gold dragees, stars and glitter. However if you did want a more traditional icing then you would need to turn the cake upside down, to give a flat top, before covering it in marzipan and icing. As it is a moist cake we would suggest icing the cake as late as possible as there is a bigger risk of the moisture seeping through and discolouring part of the icing.

The cake is of a type called "boiled fruit cake" as the fruits are boiled up with the butter and liquid ingredients at the start of the recipe. This means that they do not need to soak for days beforehand. The mixture should be left to cool so that the eggs do not cook as soon as they are added to the mixture. This usually takes about 30 minutes, though if you need to leave the mixture to cool for longer that is fine and up to 3 hours should be fine as the boiled mixture does not contain any particularly perishable ingredients.

Unfortunately we have not tried this cake in cupcake/muffin form. However in Nigella's book Feast she has a recipe for Jewelled Cupcakes which are cupcake forms of the Easy-Action Christmas Cake and you may like to try this recipe instead. The cakes are baked in gold foil cupcake cases.

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