3 cups assorted dried fruit
(figs, apricots, dates, dried cherries or cranberries)
1 cup brandy
8 ounces butter, room temperature
Â˝ cup white sugar
Â˝ cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Â˝ teaspoon ground cloves
Â˝ teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 large eggs separated
10 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate
2 cups plus 6 tablespoons flour
6 ounces of toasted pecan pieces
Gently heat the brandy on the stove top or microwave. Drop the dried fruit into the warm brandy. Let sit for 30 minutes or until the fruit starts to plump. Prepare the loaf pan by buttering the pan, lining it with parchment paper and lightly buttering the parchment paper.
Put the 8 ounces of butter in the mixer and cream until soft and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, scraping the sides occasionally.
Measure and combine all of the spices. Separate the eggs, making sure that there is no yolk in the whites. Melt the chocolate until liquid over a double boiler or in the microwave. Drain the fruit saving the brandy. Toss the fruit in six tablespoons of flour.
Turn the oven on to 300Âş.
Add the vanilla, spices and yolks to the butter/sugar. Beat well. Add the melted chocolate and 2 cups of the flour and mix, being careful not to overmix. Add the brandy and mix. Add the pecans and fruit and just mix in. Switch to a large mixing bowl.
Beat the egg whites, in a mixer or by hand with a whisk, until they hold stiff peaks. Beat in ÂĽ of the whites into the cake mixture until it lightens. Gently fold in the remaining whites.
Cook for 2 Â˝ hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool. Unmold and wrap in several layers of plastic. Store in the refrigerator for at least 8 days, up to a month.
Pour the batter into the two prepared loaf pans. Level with a spatula. Cover with a parchment sheet and then 3 layers of foil crimped over the edges of the loaf pan. Put in a pan of water going half way up the loaf pan.
On a blustery winter night light a roaring fire. Thinly slice the cake and serve with a good Port or Cognac while curled up in front of the fire. Enjoy the coziness of winter, the decadence of chocolate and brandy - and the romance in each othersâ€™ eyes.
Cooking for Couples