The holiday season has arrived. Again; a season which compels one to bake, indulge and play with the warm aroma of the spices.
We use spices every day. That is right. So how is today so different? Dark, rich desserts, empowered with some heat of the spices is the essence of the winter, of the holidays. What we usually use to make savory dishes, make their way into the sensuous bites of sweet and moist chocolatey sin.
How did another year go by so quick?
This year I feel sort of resigned and drained of all excitement. I know there are reasons. There were plans and things to do and to say and they will never happen. The words are trapped inside me for ever. The plans will only remain a dream never to come true. Yet I know every moment of this precious life needs to be savored, happily, joyfully with my heart. I have plenty. It is gift and needs to be cherished. The awareness is there, and every second is making an imprint. But deep inside I feel an inexplicable void - a reminder of things that should not have been but again also a reminder to carefully hold on to what remains and what is yet to be.
I grew up with having rich plum/fruit cake through the holiday time, almost everyday for a couple of months during the end of the year. Warm cakes, fresh baked & wrapped in newspapers went out of our home as gifts to others and more cakes came in. I cannot imagine a holiday season without a fruit cake or even may be a spice cake. For the past many years, I have been baking at least one every year.
However, for some reason I always stayed away from combining too much spice with chocolate. I broke the rules, or rather my inhibitions this time. Chocolate and spices, orange zest, cranberries and nuts – everything came together so well.
But this cake might not have happened if I had not seen Simone’s Chocolate Cranberry Hazelnut Bundt. One glance at that cake and I just knew what my next cake is going to be. This time, it was not exactly the same, but that cake, I just have to bake one day!
Last year I made the Mocha Rum Cake for A’s holiday party at work, which seems like only a few months back. It is already time for another one and he took this one to work a couple of days back. I made another small cake – the same kind, for T’s 7th Birthday – a little one, just for the four of us. Here comes the time of dessert overload. One birthday after another and the innumerable hard to resist holiday dinners.
Have you started baking yet?
Spiced Chocolate Bundt Cake with Cranberries and Almonds
Ingredients: (makes a 10 inch bundt cake)
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet /or dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
- 1 + 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed or store bought)
- 1.5 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup almond flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated white sugar or brown sugar
- 2 large egg
- lightly toasted almond flakes to garnish
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup dried cranberries (adjust amount to taste)
- 1/2 cup lightly toasted nuts (any kind you want)
- 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract/or orange extract or anything else you want to use
- 1.5 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg powder
- 1.5 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Note: With the last five ingredients (the spices) and the orange flavor and/or the extract use as much or as little as you want. We like the warm flavors of spice at home, so we tend to use a bit more
For the Ganache (adjust consistency by increasing/decreasing the amount of cream)
- 1/2 cup + 4 tablespoon heavy cream (bring it to room temperature)
- 1.5 tablespoon butter
- 8 oz chocolate, chopped
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder (Optional)
- few drops of orange or almond extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 10 inch bundt pan with spray/butter. Dust pan with some cocoa powder (or you may use flour; the flour will show white on the dark cake).
In a pan bring the water and orange juice to a boil; add the sugar and boil until the sugar dissolves completely. Pour it out in a large bowl and add the chocolate, cocoa powder and butter. Gently stir until the chocolate has melted and everything is well combined. Let cool to room temperature.
In another bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, all the spices and salt. Rub in the orange zest into the flour mix.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, with the sugar chocolate butter mix, beating until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add in the vanilla extract/orange extract/or blossom water.
Add the flour mixture and the almond flour and beat only until just incorporated and smooth.
Dust the cranberries and nuts with some flour and gently stir them in.
Pour batter in to cake pan.
Bake for about 35 minutes or until risen (time will vary with different ovens), and a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
Cool completely before frosting.
Icing/Frosting the cake:
Cool cake completely before icing. You can even refrigerate the cake for about 1/2 hr.
Place the chocolate heatproof bowl. Heat the cream and butter in pan over medium heat or in the microwave slowly briging it to a boil. Immediately pour the cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for a couple of minutes; do not stir right away. After a few minutes gently stir with a spoon or whisk until smooth and shiny. Stir gently until all of the chocolate is melted. Fold in the zest, extract and the ginger powder if you are using.
Pour/spoon it over the cake and let it drip down the sides. Decorate it with almond flakes. Refrigerate cake for the icing to harden.
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