Mini-Dried Fruit and Nut Cakes

Mini-Dried Fruit and Nut Cakes

Fruit cakes

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 little 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
1 egg
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.

Sunday Night Salmon Cakes

Salmon Fish Cakes

It’s not a good sign, when it’s barely mid-November and I already want a time-out. I don’t know about you but it feels as though seasonal festivities are already in full swing.  It could be that in addition to Halloween and the upcoming family holidays, every other friend and family member of mine happens to have a birthday in October or November.  After all the celebrating, and the ghoulishly sweet orientation of Halloween-past, I find myself craving savory, comfort food.  Now, to some, a fish cake may not be the first food choice to leap to mind that fits the bill, but, to me, a salty, smoky, crispy and moreish fish cake is the perfect RX to balance out too many late evenings and too many sweets.

In my eternal search for the perfect fish cake, I found that the best way to get the results I craved was to create my own recipe which had all of the right elements.  This ideal cake is packed with fish and has little filler; it’s toothsome in texture and not too mushy; it’s salty and piquant without too much sweetness; it’s bursting with fresh herbs and studded with bits of chile.  Tried-and-true, these are now a household staple, especially on a Sunday night.

Smoked Salmon Fish Cakes

Makes approx. 16 – 2″ diameter cakes

1 1/2 lb. salmon filets, skinned, pin bones removed
1/4 lb. smoked salmon
1 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
One small onion grated with juices, about 1/4 cup
2 scallions, ends trimmed, minced
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
2  tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
2 tablespoons Greek-style whole milk yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Tabasco, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine salmon filets and smoked salmon in bowl of food processor.  Pulse to chop without over processing.  The consistency should be finely chopped without becoming mushy.
Transfer salmon to a large bowl.  Add 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs, onion  with juices, scallions, parsley and cilantro.  Mix with a fork to combine.  Add yogurt, lemon juice, tabasco, pepper.  Stir to combine.

Pour remaining 1 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl.  Using a soup spoon scoop out a generous amount of salmon mixture.  Carefully form it into a plump 2″ patty with your hands.  Roll cake in Panko to cover.  Place on platter.  Repeat with remaining salmon.  Add more Panko to bowl if necessary.  (Patties can be formed up to 3 hours before cooking.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in skillet.  Add fish cakes in one layer.  Fry over medium-high heat until browned, turning once, about 3 minutes per side.  Use a spatter guard to prevent oil from spattering.  Transfer cakes to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.  Repeat with remaining salmon mixture.
Transfer cakes to pre-warmed serving platter.  Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley leaves.