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Not everyone is a fan of the traditional rich fruit Christmas cake so I have created a recipe here that will excite your creativity and please your palate – based on a delicious Christmas infused chocolate biscuit cake. The components for this cake can be made well in advance helping you to organise and plan. The cake itself requires no baking – simply refrigerate until firm and then cover with chocolate fondant sugar paste.
I used the Wilton 10 inch bundt ring tin. I sprayed the tin with quick release spray and then lined all the sides with clingfilm making sure there were no gaps and the clingfilm came up and over the outside of the tin.
For the cake itself I melted 300g dark chocolate (orange flavoured) with 200g golden syrup and 375g unsalted butter. Be careful not to let this boil – you can melt either on the hob or in a microwave.
In a separate bowl I roughly crushed 160g digestive biscuits, 140g rich tea biscuits and 105g gingernuts.
I added 115g roughly chopped roasted, salted almonds, 170g mixed dried berries (I used cranberries, cherries and blueberries) and 70g finely chopped crystallised ginger.
I poured the chocolate syrup over the dry ingredients and stirred until everything was combined before transferring to the prepared tin.
Bring the clingfilm over the top of the cake, seal and press down firmly. Place in the fridge until the cake is completely et and firm – this took 4hours but can be made anything up to a week in advance.
Once the cake is set it drops easily out of the tin with a sharp tap.
I kneaded and rolled out 1Kg of chocolate fondant sugar paste on a works surface lightly dusted with icing sugar.
Once smoothed I lifted and laid the paste over the wreath (this I first placed on a sheet of non-stick baking parchment on a workboard)
I gently pressed the paste into position and then used a 2 inch deep round cutter to remove the fondant from the inside of the wreath.
I trimmed the paste and used a smoother to seal and neaten the edges. Carefully transfer the wreath to a 12 inch round gold cake board and fix in position with a little royal icing.
Recipe makes enough biscuits for 3 wreath cakes or 1 wreath cake plus spares to serve on the side.
Roll out the chilled biscuit dough to a depth of 3-4mm and stamp out different size holly shapes.
Place on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking parchment and place in a preheated oven (180C) for 8 minutes.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile prepare the royal icing – I use Two Chicks pasteurised egg white and icing sugar with the juice of a fresh lemon whisked together to create a mallowy royal icing the consistency of freshly whipped double cream.
I separated the icing into 3 bowls and coloured these with different greens – leaf green, foliage green and Christmas green – but you can experiment to find your favourite colours. Keep these icings in sealed containers or in bowls covered with a clean damp cloth to prevent the icing drying out.
Once the biscuits have cooled – this only takes 45 minutes – 1 hour, place them on a clean work board and fill a piping bag with No 2 nozzle and one of the greens (I used the darkest). Pipe the outline on each of the holly shapes – keeping 2mm inside the edge of the biscuit for handling.
Place the piping bag inside a sealed polythene bag until later.
Thin the other coloured icings down with cold water to achieve a flooding consistency – this is where the icing when lifted with a spoon will trail and then settle back to flat by the count of 10.
Transfer the icing into a piping bag with no nozzle or a Wilton mini melting / decorating squeeze bottle and fill each of the biscuits in turn keeping inside the hand piped outline. Use a paintbrush to move the icing to all the edges and pop any air bubbles that rise to a dark bubble just under the surface.
Once all the biscuits are flooded use the original piping bag and pipe over the outline again and include a central vein. Leave the biscuits to dry for at least 8 hours or overnight. (Store the remainder of the green piping icing to fix all the components onto the top of the cake when you are ready to assemble.)
These biscuits can be made up to 1 month in advance and stored in a clean white cake box or sealed plastic container lined with non-stick paper.
I used a 50:50 blend of white petal or gum paste with sugar paste to create a malleable paste with extra strength.
Knead the paste and roll to a sausage approximately 3cm in diameter. You will note I do not use any icing sugar – and this is important as you want the paste to be gently tacky but not sticky. Trim the end with a sharp knife, then cut 12 even discs, each 3-4mm thick.
Lay these discs inside a plastic pouch which will allow you to shape and release the petals smoothly without them sticking (an A4 plastic letter document holder is perfect for this – slit the long side and the base with scissors or a sharp knife so it opens).
Gently press each petal with the base of your thumb through the pouch and then use your thumb to smooth out just one long side of each petal.
Open the pouch and take the first petal out, turn it over and with the delicate thinned edge at the top gently curl it up to create the inner most centre of the rose. Continue to add petals and shape around the centre – you will not need any glues or wires – the petals will be tacky enough to stick.
Once all the petals are in place, gently shape and tease the edge of the and trim the base of the rose with a sharp knife.
Place on a clean board lined with non-stick paper. I made 3 roses – but you could use less petals and make 5 smaller roses.
Once all the roses are made, spray with pearl lustre and leave to dry for a minimum of 8 hours. These roses can be made up to 3 months in advance and stored in a clean white cake box or sealed plastic container lined with absorbent kitchen paper.
Knead and roll separately a small ball of white and red fondant sugar paste. Roll each into a sausage and lay directly next to each other.
Carefully take the ends in each hand and twist several times.
Roll out the twisted paste together with your hands to smooth, lengthen and elongate. Keep adding twists to the ends to add more stripes.
Trim the paste into 3 and continue rolling and twisting until you have 3 lengths of similar size, thickness and stripes.
Trim the edges with a sharp knife and shape into a candy cane. Leave overnight to dry and firm.
These candy canes can be made up to 3 months in advance and stored in a clean white cake box or sealed plastic container lined with absorbent kitchen paper.
Start by laying enough biscuits on the top of the cake to create a flat wreath. Only once they are laid and you are happy with the spacing, fix each into position with the green royal icing in a piping bag (no nozzle – simply trim the end with scissors once the bag is filled). Now build up the layers – adding the roses, candy canes and extra holly biscuits. Fix each into position with royal icing.
Finish by fixing small red candy pearls into position with royal icing and a festive ribbon and bow.
This cake will keep for 2 weeks – and should be kept cool, but not necessarily chilled. The holly biscuits can be enjoyed from the top and serve the cake in thin wedge slices or cut into canape size squares.