Are you feeling Christmassy yet? I work in a large store, wrapping up delicate, glittery baubles all day long with the same playlist on repeat, and grumpy shoppers complaining about the shortage of pickled walnuts or the poor quality of my bubble-wrapping. There are times when I think maybe old Ebenezer had a point.
But somehow, the endless tide of Christmas shoppers, broken glass decorations, overplayed songs and glitter everywhere hasn’t dulled my favourite time of year. I still get a sense of joy when I see the twinkling Christmas lights, or pass the mulled wine scented candles, or help someone find a secret santa gift. There is something irrepressibly cheerful about this time of year and no matter how many baubles I have to wrap or difficult people I have to deal with, I don’t think anything will ever dull the sparkle of Christmas for me.
For most people, food plays a big role in celebrating Christmas, and it’s part of the reason we look forward to it so much. I’ve had a lot of fun in recent weeks dreaming up festive-flavoured recipes and this is one of my favourites. It incorporates a lot of quintessentially Christmassy flavours and would make a great alternative to traditional Christmas cake for those who don’t like that or can’t eat it. This cake is gluten free, and if you use dairy-free white chocolate, it’s dairy free too, making it allergy-friendly and much lighter than a lot of the cakes you find at this time of year. I’m all for a bit of indulgence, but if it can be done with a fraction of the negative side-effects for my health and figure, then even better. Maybe Scrooge’s problem was that he just didn’t eat enough cake.
- For the cake:
- 200g ground almonds
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 100g fresh cranberries
- 50g white chocolate, roughly chopped
- 50g pecans, roughly chopped
- zest of one orange
- 3 eggs
- 60g coconut oil or butter, melted
- 100g coconut sugar (or raw cane sugar)
- juice of 1/2 an orange
- For the icing:
- 100g white chocolate, melted
- 3 tbsps full-fat coconut milk (from the creamy part, not the watery part)
- Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees C (200 fan). Lay the pecans on a baking sheet and roast for about 4 minutes, until toasted and fragrant but not burnt.
- Turn the oven down to 160 degrees C (140 fan), and grease an 8 inch cake tin with coconut oil.
- Stir together the ground almonds, baking powder, and coconut sugar until combined, then add the orange zest and mix well, rubbing it into the dry ingredients with your fingers if necessary.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and then add the melted coconut oil, and stir to combine. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Lastly, stir in the pecans, cranberries and white chocolate, then press the mixture firmly into the tin.
- Cover with tin foil and bake for around 45 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until it has cooked evenly.
- When the cake is just out of the oven and still in the tin, prick it lightly with a fork in several places and pour over the orange juice so that it soaks into the cake, then leave the cake to cool completely.
- Make the icing: stir together the melted chocolate and coconut milk until well combined, then put in the fridge to set and become thick. If it is too runny it will simply drip off the cake.
- Once the cake is totally cool and the icing is thick and set, spread it on top of the cake and garnish as desired.