Tag: sultanas

CHRISTMAS FRUITCAKE

Merry Christmas!

When I was young, every Christmas, one of my mom’s friends, would gift us a loaf of fruitcake. It was the most delicious cake I have ever had. Growing up, I experimented tasting other fruitcakes, but nothing ever came close to that cake and well, the other fruitcakes just put me off fruitcakes altogether. This Christmas I wanted to recreate the same recipe. I tried asking my mom to get the recipe from her friend, but, unfortunately she did not have her number. One thing my mom did know about the recipe, though, was that she would make it at least a month before Christmas, soaking the cake with booze every few days.

So, the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend, I started prep for my version of fruitcake. One thing I was sure that I did not want to use in the cake, was candied fruit. I was so sure about that, that even before searching for an apt recipe, I had already bought dried fruits. So I looked into my cookbooks, but none carried the recipe that made the cut. Then , I turned to my next best friend, google, for the recipe. And I found Alton Brown’s. Now, I loooooove his series Good Eats and the recipe is from one of the episodes of the series that aired this recipe. Besides not including any candied fruits, the recipe also got rave reviews. I did tweak it a bit by including the dried fruits I bought. My list included black figs, calmyrna figs, dried currants, medjool dates, dried cranberries, crystallized ginger, monukka raisins, pitted prunes, sultanas. I used brandy instead of rum as thats what I had on hand. Since, I planned to gift the cakes to a few of my friends, I tripled the recipe.

The dried fruits chopped up and covered in sugar

I have never baked so many cakes together at one time before. And, there was this nagging feeling telling me- this is not a good idea. I did not have a bowl big enough to mix the whole batter. Then the oven wasn’t so big to accommodate all the cakes and having enough space for air circulation. Anyways, I thought to myself, if they are an utter failure- well, I’ll keep them for myself and make a pudding!

Three weeks later, they are all wrapped and ready to be gifted to friends, save for one- the one for us. Now, of course, I don’t remember the taste of the fruitcake I had eons back, but this version has been the best I have eaten since then!

All wrapped up!

Alton Brown likes to have his slice toasted with some mascarpone cheese! Like Alton Brown says, this is Good Eats!

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RUGELACH

‘Tis the season to be jolly!La la la la, la la la la! Today was a fun day. I always have a great time with my coffee group friends. Though generally we meet on Friday for coffee, this time we met on a Thursday for our Coffee group Christmas party!

There was food- lots of it! It was a potluck- so everyone got a dish. The menu was exhaustive. I read out the potluck sign-up list to V last night and even though we had just eaten dinner both of us were salivating! There was Kung Pao chicken, shrimp fried rice, Mac and cheese, Mexican Lasagna (which was awesome!), fried chicken, bean salad, deviled eggs (I got the recipe and will definitely try it out!), Caprese salad (yum!), pumpkin pie (which I couldn’t try because I was stuffed with all the other food- can you believe that- me not tasting dessert?? I thought the day would never come!!!) and Mimosas (now that’s what I call a party)!

Besides all the food, we had the cookie and gift exchange. For the gift exchange we played White Elephant Gift Exchange. Everyone bought a gift under the budget of a pre-agreed amount. Once all the gifts were under the tree, and the food in our stomachs, we each got a number. I was 8 in queue. Now the idea behind White elephant is that each person, as per the order of the number she has, gets to pick up a gift. So the person who has 1, goes first, picks a gift, opens it up and shows it to all. Now the person who goes second has the opportunity to either steal the first person’s gift or pick a new gift from under the tree. If she does steal the first person’s gift, then the first person has to pick another gift. And this goes on. Now a gift stolen can only pass three hands. If it gets stolen the third time, the last person keeps it and no one else can snatch it away from her. That’s how I got my Christmas gift. It got stolen three times and I was the third person to steel it, so no one else could steal mine! I really wanted a new wallet, so was very happy with it. Someone got the magic edge brownie pan. That was the last person, so no one could steal it from her- and it went to the right person- a baker. I would have liked that too but I was very happy with my gift!

For the cookie exchange, all of us were supposed to get a batch of 24 cookies- store bought or home-made and an empty plate. Everyone that ways got two cookies of each kind to take home! There were home-made marshmallows, Mickey mouse shaped cookies, pumpkin cookies, and so many others (I haven’t tried any yet- I’m still full with all the food).

For the cookie exchange, I took rolled fruit cookies, or as the Jews call it Rugelach. The recipe is from Rose Bakery’s cook book. Rose Bakery is an Anglo-French Bakery and restaurant in Paris. Her book includes recipes for over 100 of Rose Bakery’s most popular dishes. Rose Carrarini, the owner of Rose Bakery, holds a passionate philosophy that,

Life is improved by great food and great food can be achieved by everyone.

Now the first part I agree hands down but the second part I feel is incomplete and should go on to add “eventually”.  Eventually great food can be achieved by everyone, case in example- the cookies.

My first attempt at the rolled fruit cookies has been a semi-flop. Semi- flop because, even though they tasted good- the presentation wasn’t that great. I had problems rolling the dough. I don’t know why- I did leave the dough for more than 2 hours (overnight, to be precise), but I doubt that’s the reason. I think I added too much flour. I found the dough too sticky and ended adding more flour, but I think if I had left in the fridge, the stickiness would have been taken care of without any additional flour and would have thus been easier to roll out. Next time I’ll try that and I would suggest even if you feel the dough is sticky, refrigerate it like that and then when rolling add additional flour accordingly.

Rose likes these cookies because the pastry is made with cream cheese and very little sugar, so even though the filling is quite sweet, the cookie is not. I found that to be true!

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