Light Coconut Christmas Cake

fruitcake 2 

‘Tis the season for holiday baking – and fruitcake is generally the first thing on our list. Sue and Julie have been baking fruitcake together every Christmas since they were teenagers – and although our traditional recipe is a dark fruitcake from the Joy of Cooking (it’s in the 1997 version – some earlier versions have a completely different recipe, which isn’t quite the same) – but this year we thought we’d give light fruitcake a chance.

We ordered some nice organic dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots), candied ginger and coconut in our Spud Box, and turned it into two loaf cakes – one for our annual Christmas party, the other to unwrap on Christmas day. We used to use a myriad of fancy pans for our fruitcakes, but sometimes they didn’t survive re-entry – loaf pans make it easy. (If they do crumble, turn the pieces of broken cake into a base for a rich, festive trifle, topped with custard and cream. No one will notice!Read More

Apple Blondies With Brown Sugar Frosting

Both the frosting and the blondie are scrumptious. You’ll have a tough time deciding which you like best so why not have more of both?

Apple Blondies with Brown Sugar Frosting
Apple Blondies with Brown Sugar Frosting
  1. Blondie
  2. 2⁄3 cup butter, softened 150 ml
  3. 2 cups packed brown sugar 500 ml
  4. 2 large eggs
  5. 1 tsp vanilla extract 5 ml
  6. 2 cups all-purpose flour 500 ml
  7. 2 tsp baking powder 10 ml
  8. 1⁄4 tsp salt 1 ml
  9. 1 cup chopped peeled apples 250 ml
  10. 3⁄4 cup chopped walnuts 175 ml
  11. Brown Sugar Frosting
  12. 1⁄2 cup butter 125 ml
  13. 1 cup packed brown sugar 250 ml
  14. 1⁄4 cup milk or cream 60 ml
  15. 2 cups confectioners’ (icing) sugar, 500 ml sifted
  1. Blondie: Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
  2. Grease a 13- by 9-inch (33 by 23 cm) baking pan. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture on low speed, mixing until blended. Stir in apples and nuts, mixing well. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake until set and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
  3. Brown Sugar Frosting: In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring mixture just to a boil then remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm. Stir in confectioners’ sugar, mixing until smooth. Spread evenly over bar. Let stand until frosting is firm enough to cut. Cut into bars or squares.
  2. Tip: This frosting is very soft when first mixed, which makes it very nice to spread. It firms up on cooling.
  3. Tip: Choose apples that are crisp, tart and not too moist. Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Spartans are good choices for this recipe.
  4. Variation: Omit the frosting if you prefer a plain apple walnut blondie.
  5. Variation: If you’re not a fan of nuts, omit the walnuts.
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Crazy Crunch

Put this in fancy jars and give it as a little extra at Christmas time

Crazy Crunch
  1. 2 quarts popped popcorn 2 L
  2. 11⁄3 cups pecans 325 mL
  3. 2⁄3 cup almonds 150 mL
  4. 11⁄3 cups granulated sugar 325 mL
  5. 1 tsp vanilla 5 mL
  6. 1 cup margarine 250 mL
  7. 1⁄2 cup corn syrup 125 mL
  1. Mix popcorn, pecans and almonds on a cookie sheet. Combine sugar, vanilla, margarine and syrup in a pan. Boil 10 to 15 minutes or to a light caramel color. Pour over corn, pecans and almonds. Mix well. Spread to dry. Makes about 10 cups (2.5 L).
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Cranberry Scones

Cranberry Scones
  1. 3⁄4 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt 175 mL
  2. 1 large egg 1
  3. 23⁄4 cups all-purpose flour 675 mL
  4. 4 tsp baking powder 20 mL
  5. 1⁄2 tsp baking soda 2 mL
  6. 1⁄2 tsp salt 2 mL
  7. 1⁄2 cup margarine 125 mL
  8. 1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries 250 mL
  9. (fresh or frozen)
  10. 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar 125 mL
  11. Grated zest of 1 orange
  12. 1 tbsp butter, melted 15 mL
  13. 1⁄4 cup confectioners’ (icing) sugar 60 mL
  14. .
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Beat buttermilk and egg in small bowl and set aside. In large bowl, Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in margarine until mixture resembles small peas. Mix in cranberries, sugar and orange zest. Add buttermilk mixture and stir until soft dough forms. Using your hands, form dough into a large ball and place on floured surface. Pat out to 1-inch (2.5 cm) thickness. Cut in 4-inch (20 cm) rounds. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake scones for 15 to 20 minutes. While still warm, brush with butter and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.
  2. Makes 8 large scones.
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Gourmet: A French word meaning 400% markup.

Chocolate Volcanoes with Raspberry Coulis

 A guaranteed hit – easy and absolutely decadent! Prepare and freeze these serving-sized desserts ahead of the time, then cook them while you enjoy your dinner. 

Chocolate Volcanoes with Raspberry Coulis
  1. 1 1/2 Tbsp. instant espresso granules (or instant coffee granules)
  2. 1 Tbsp. boiling water
  3. 1/2 cup flour
  4. 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  5. 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  6. 6 – 1 oz. squares semisweet chocolate
  7. 2/3 cup butter, softened
  8. 1/2 cup sugar
  9. 3 large eggs
Raspberry Coulis
  1. 10 1/2 oz. pkg. frozen raspberries, thawed
  2. 1/3 cup sugar
  3. 1 – 2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier liqueur (orange juice is a good substitute)
  1. To Make Volcanoes: Dissolve coffee granules in boiling water. Set aside to cool. Grease 6 – 4 oz. ramekins. Using a whisk, combine flour, cocoa and baking powder in a small bowl. Reserve. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Add butter and sugar and stir until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Using as electric mixer, beat in eggs 1 at a time on medium speed. Add dissolved coffee and flour mixture and continue beating until fully mixed. Raise mixer speed to high and beat for 6 more minutes (there must be something good on TV!). Pour batter into ramekins and tightly wrap with plastic wrap. Freeze overnight or up to 2 weeks..
  2. To make raspberry coulis: Combine raspberries and sugar in a blender and puree until smooth. Strain through a sieve (or a clean j-cloth) to remove seeds. Add liqueur and store in refrigerator.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Take ramekins out of freezer and remove plastic wrap. Bake volcanoes for 18 minutes – no longer! Cool on rack for 5 minutes. The outsides will be crusty and the centers will be gooey – sort of like your average volcano. To serve, drizzle individual plates with raspberry coulis. Invert each ramekin onto a plate and add a small scoop of ice cream.
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Midlife crisis: when the only thing you retain is water.

Fresh Strawberry Sherbet

Definitely a frozen asset!

Fresh Strawberry Sherbet
  1. 2/ 3 cup Granulated Sugar 150 ml
  2. 1/ 3 cup Water 150 ml
  3. 5 cups Strawberries, Pureed and Chilled 1.25 L
  4. 2 TBSP Grand Marnier Liqueur 30 ML
  5. Grated Zest of 1 Lemon
  6. 2 TBSP Lemon Juice
  1. Combine sugar and water in saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Cool and chill. Combine pureed strawberries, Grand Marnier, lemon juice and lemon zest and blend well. Add sugar syrup to strawberry mixture. Freeze in an 8-inch (20 cm) square metal pan. After mixture is frozen, about 3 hours, partially thaw and beat in a food processor. This breaks down the ice crystals and gives it a fluffy texture. Refreeze for at least 3 hours.
  2. Serves 4.
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