This weekend we will decorate and light our Christmas tree. In true Scandinavian fashion, our tree has live candles placed on it. Traditionally, the candles are first lit on Christmas eve (julaften) when Father Christmas surreptitiously arrives during the evening feast and places gifts under the tree. We like to buck tradition, however, and light our candles at least once before the eve. I know, I know, it's not how-things-are-done, but we just can't contain ourselves. The tree is just so beautiful all lit up with glowing candles, and we like to share that experience with our friends.
While we decorate our tree we will prepare gløgg and aebleskivers and some other holiday cakes. Some friends will come by, and at the end of the afternoon, when dusk sets in, we will light the candles. While we watch the candles burn down, we'll enjoy a glass of gløgg along with some sweet treats like these Mini-Dried Fruit an Nut Cakes.
These cakes are lighter and fresher than the traditional Christmas fruitcake. They are studded with dried apricots, raisins and cherries which add a natural combination of sweetness and tartness. I like to make them bite-sized, so there is plenty of room for other treats, and even the wariest fruitcake-eater may be encouraged to have a go at them.
Mini-Dried Fruit and Nut Cakes
You can mix the dried fruit to your taste. I like the combination of tart apricots with sweet raisins.
Makes approx. 24
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground all-spice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup dark molasses
Grated zest of 2 oranges
1/4 cup brandy or rum
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup finely chopped dried cherries
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup yellow raisins
Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.) Line a miniature muffin tin with paper liners.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, all-spice and ginger in a bowl. Stir to combine well.
Beat butter and sugar in bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add molasses and egg and mix well. Mix in orange zest. Add flour in thirds, alternating with the brandy. Stir in nuts and fruit. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake in oven until cakes spring back to the touch, about 15 minutes. Transfer tin to rack to cool completely. Remove cakes.
Cakes can be made up to one week in advance. Cover and refrigerate until use. Serve at room temperature.
You might enjoy these other treats with a glass of gløgg:
Or try these delicious fruitcake variations from the Foodblogs:
Dundee Fruitcake from What's for Lunch Honey
Panforte di Sienna from Andrea Meyers
Apricot Cashew Fruitcake from Ward Street Bistro
Russian Fruit Cake from Cafe Chocolada