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I must confess to not making a conventional Christmas cake this year. These little beauties fill the gap admirably and don’t take long to make up and bake.
I have made several batches of petite cakes and plan to continue.
They are the most intensely delicious Christmas cakes I have ever eaten.
As they bake, the rich, enticing smell of dried fruits and rum mingling with sweet cinnamon spicyness is heady.
Minus the icing and gently warmed, petit Noeles become a luscious pudding served with cream or custard.
Wrapped in cellophane and tied with a ribbon, these make perfect little Christmas gifts.
150g pitted prunes, chopped
100g crystallised ginger, chopped
100g dried cranberries
¼ cup dark rum or brandy or orange juice
¼ cup blackcurrant or boysenberry jam
50g dark cane sugar
20g butter, chopped
2 Tbsp port wine or lemon juice
40g dark chocolate baking chips
130g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, size 7, beaten
200g ready-to-roll almond-flavoured icing (I used a brand called Pettinice which comes in a 750g pack. This is far more than you need for the 12 petite cakes. Store the unused portion wrapped in foil in the fridge)
2 Tbsp apricot jam, warmed
flowers or Christmas balls to decorate
Grease or spray 12 muffin tins (80ml, one-third cup capacity).
Heat the oven to 160degC on bake.
Place the chopped dried fruit (chop fruit to about the size of raisins) into a microwave bowl. Add the rum, jam, sugar, butter, port wine and the chocolate baking chips. Mix well, cover and microwave on full power for 2 and a-half minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl sift together the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside. When the microwave mixture is cool stir in the beaten eggs and mix well. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the fruit mixture. Gently mix everything together thoroughly.
Spoon into the prepared muffin tins, filling each nearly to the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 22-27 minutes until the cakes have risen and are springy to the touch.
Remove from the oven and cool in the tins for about 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and ease each cake from the tin.
Cool on a wire rack.
Cut a portion of the icing from the block, about 200g. Knead on a clean flat surface dusted with icing sugar. Roll out to the thickness of a $2 coin and cut out 12 circles slightly smaller than the cakes. Brush the top of each cake with apricot jam and then top with the icing.
Decorate with glittery balls or edible flowers. The flowers need to be small or they will overwhelm the cakes. Sometimes I use pulmonaria flowers which are tiny and have a very light floral taste, Baby rose buds work well too.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.