Chocolate-Cherry-Almond Christmas Cake

By Yankee Magazine

Oct 02 2016


Chocolate-Cherry-Almond Christmas Cake

Photo Credit : Heath Robbins

Christmas cake is simply a British fruitcake served at Yuletide. The tradition was brought over to New England in the 1600s, and after years of appreciation, declined in stature as the butt of too many Johnny Carson jokes. (“There’s only one fruitcake in the world and people keep passing it around …”) But we love the tradition, and so we join the ranks of recipe writers seeking to make fruitcakes palatable to modern cooks. Our solution: Start with a classic Yankee recipe from the 1960s, ease up on the booze, and add chocolate, almonds, cherries, and figs. The result is like a cross between a fruitcake and a dense, moist torte, delicious as either a centerpiece dessert or with a cup of coffee in the afternoon.


12 servings

For the fruit:


2 cups boiling water
1 cup whiskey
5 ounces dried cherries
5 ounces chopped dried figs


Pour the water and whiskey over the cherries and figs; let the mixture sit 3 hours. To speed things up, put the mixture in your microwave until the fruit is nicely plumped, 3 to 5 minutes; then let it sit 1 hour. Drain the fruit and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 325° and set a rack to the middle position. Grease a 10-inch round baking pan with removable sides, and line the bottom with a greased piece of parchment paper.

For the cake:


2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
1-1/2 cups firmly packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup molasses
2/3 cup milk, at room temperature
8 ounces chocolate chips
6 ounces toasted slivered almonds


Using a standing or handheld mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides occasionally. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each one.

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg. In a measuring cup, stir together the molasses and milk.

Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture. Stir to combine; then add half of the milk/molasses mixture. Scrape the sides. Repeat with the flour mixture, then the milk mixture, then the flour mixture. Gently stir in the reserved fruit (without the liquid), chocolate chips, and almonds, scraping the sides as you go.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bang on the counter a few times to level it. Transfer to the oven and reduce the heat to 300°. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 60 to 75 minutes. Let the cake continue cooking in the pan on a wire rack 20 minutes; then remove the pan. Before serving, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve.