I fancied something different this Christmas for dessert.
I wanted the flavours, the spice, the mulled fruits, the richness, but all mingling together in a different way. So I wrapped them up in a big brownie, with lots of chocolate. It just seemed like the right thing to do!
This is a decadent brownie cake, very rich, with lovely taste explosions coming from the mulled berries. Best served warm with vanilla ice cream I’ve found, or whipped coconut cream is also very special. Plus, it’s a big brownie, so it’s easy to make.
You could use any dried fruit really in this recipe, but I prefer, and if you can get them, dried cherries, blueberries or the classic cranberry. If you don’t drink alcohol, you can cook the berries in orange/ cranberry juice or non-alcoholic wine.
I have cooked the mulled berries with a few cloves, star anise and cinnamon. But I found that it was a fiddle trying to pick out all the spices, they do add some flavour, but we’re just cooking the berries quickly and there is plenty of cinnamon in the cake. But, by all means, add the spices.
I love the way cinnamon seems to blend and deepen the the flavour of the dark chocolate. As a cook, I find myself naturally drawn to flavour combinations, sometimes I have to resist, in order to try something new. Cinnamon, orange and dark chocolate is special trinity of good things in my eyes.
I do like a Christmas pudding and I’ve always loved Christmas cake. Mum used to bake it in early December and I remember the whole house filled with those beautiful, spicy cake aromas. But they’ve very much like Christmas pop songs, I don’t mind them once or twice in a year, but anymore makes me feel a bit sickly (see my post on Alternative Christmas songs here ). But this brownie cake, I’d happily tuck into in the roasting heart of August. It also makes the house smell pretty damn good too.
Jane was a big fan of Terry’s chocolate orange, so I have added a twist of orange here. It’s a match made in lapland or maybe the Swiss Alps!? Now Terry’s is off the menu, I go for a very dark chocolate flavoured with orange, there are some awesome bars out there. If only they made them in little globes with segments. That’s where all the fun is. The idea as a kid that chocolate oranges could maybe grow on trees just made Christmas even better.
The thing about cooking at Christmas is preparation. Cook things well in advance and have a plan. I’ll be posting some Christmas cooking tips and a full cooking plan in the next couple of days. However, I think this brownie is best served warm, recently taken from the oven. Leave it to the day, along with your veggies.
I hope you love this recipe and it woo’s and yum’s the whole family, and all your friends and neighbours and people at work. Who doesn’t love chocolate cake (actually, one of our bestest buds doesn’t like chocolate cake, but generally speaking, it’s a HIT!) If Christmas is not your cup of tea, or it’s a hard time of year for you, cake is never a bad thing right!
We send you all our love and good vibes at this time of year, a time to eat, drink and snooze by a fire.
Have magical and delicious Festive Time 2018!
Any questions or comments? They are very welcome down the bottom there in the comments. Drops us a chat or just say hello.
If you’re looking for a delicious Christmas centre piece, here’s what we’re having this year (plus recipe):
You might like to decorate it with dried orange slices, I’ve added the method below. They also make for nice decorations.
If you’d like to go very decadent (steady!!), I’ve also added a link to my quick chocolate sauce recipe below, which is ideal for a chocoholic, maybe a little brandy could sneak in there too.
I do mention this below, but please don’t overbake this.
If you’re wondering where to get vegan cream or ice cream, you’ll find it in most supermarkets now, and supporting your local health food shop is a wonderful thing too. They’ll have it.
I know what you may be thinking, that’s a lot of chocolate. It’s Christmas!!!
Festive Chocolate & Orange Brownie Cake with Mulled Berries
The Bits – For 12-14 slices
175g plain flour
175g light brown sugar
1 ½ teas baking powder
20g or 3 heaped tbs cacao/ cocoa
1 ½ teas ground cinnamon
Large pinch sea salt
150g dark vegan chocolate
100ml cold pressed rapeseed/ sunflower oil
1 ½ teas vanilla extract
1 medium orange (zest)
200ml plant milk, I used soya milk
150g dried fruits, I use cranberries, cherries or blueberries, or a mixture
3 slices orange
60ml brandy/ whiskey
Optional Spices – 4 cloves, 1 star anise, 1/2 stick cinnamon
Dried/ fresh orange slices
Dried cranberries/ cherries or fresh berries like raspberries/ strawberries
Fresh rosemary sprigs
Boil a kettle. Preheat a fan oven to 180oC. Grease and line a large round cake tin (23cm) with oil and baking parchment.
Mulled Berries – Place your dried fruits into a small saucepan, pour over the brandy, squeeze the juice out of the orange slices and toss them in too. Bring to a boil and leave to simmer for 3 minutes. The berries should absorb almost all of the brandy. Set aside to cool. Remove the orange slices and any orange pips.
Break your chocolate into a bowl, pour the boiled kettle water into a small pan, place the bowl on top and gently warm the chocolate. Stirring regularly until it’s melted. Don’t let the base of the bowl touch the boiling water when cooking. Set aside to cool a little.
Place the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cocoa, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl, mix well together.
In a bowl/ measuring jug, stir together the oil, soya milk and vanilla extract and then pour this into the bowl of dry ingredients, along with the cooled melted chocolate. Finally add the mulled fruits (with any leftover brandy) and orange zest, fold into the mix. Don’t over mix, just until it’s all combined. Pour the mixture into the tin, fashion a level top, and place in the oven.
Bake for 18 – 25 minutes, depending on your oven. Don’t over bake, it should still be a little gooey in the middle when you test it with a skewer. Normally, if you think it’s a little undercooked, that’s fine. Don’t trust your instincts on this one! The brownie cake is ready when a light crust has formed over the whole cake.
Leave to cool in the tin, then decorate as you like. Nice and festive!
Best served warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
Orange slices – Place 6 orange slices onto a wire/ cooling rack and into a low oven (120oC). Cook for 1 hour or more, until they have dried out nicely.
Can also be served with 2-minute Chocolate Sauce Recipe
It’s Christmas, I’m going to leave out the healthy Foodie Fact this time around. But, I’ll just say this, cinnamon is very high in calcium! Also a good source of iron. And this, cinnamon has been used medicinally for thousand years, it is an AMAZING source of anti-oxidants.
Winter is the perfect time of year to get your cinnamon oooon! We love cinnamon tea and it’s so versatile, add it to smoothies, soups and stews. The next time you cook rice, pop a cinammon stick or some cinnamon bark into the pot. Lovely sweet and warming flavours.