Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Lamingtons

Introducing the Christmas Lamington
If ever there was an excuse for a Christmas/Aussie-baking-great mash up I feel the lamington is it. I thought you might feel the same way. So Merry Christmas from me to you, in the form of an unapologetic use of brandy and white chocolate sponge, a smothering of cherry jam, fresh cherries and of course chocolate. I know. It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. This is good time overload in dessert form.
I do suggest though, in the Christmas spirit, that you make a double batch. From experience I’d like you to know, these don’t tend to last long.

White chocolate and brandy sponge
225g butter
300g caster sugar
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
100g good quality white chocolate, melted
60ml brandy
300g plain flour, sifted
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
120ml milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp mixed spice

Filling and coating
Cherry jam (minimum 4 ½ tbsp.)
½ cup dried cherries, finely chopped
1 cup shredded coconut
2 tsp mixed spice
500g dark chocolate
Fresh cherries to serve

Preheat oven to 170C. Grease and line a high-sided square baking pan with baking paper and set aside. I prefer this to sheet pans so you can cut the cake horizontally through the centre and smother in jam but if you don’t have one a rectangular sheet pan will do just fine.
Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add the remaining dry ingredients to a separate bowl and stir to combine. Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until just combined. Add the milk and vanilla and brandy, continuing to beat, then add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just combined. Gently stir through the melted chocolate before pouring the batter into your prepared baking tin. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. If you are using a sheet pan, keep a close eye on the time, you may only need to bake for 25-30 minutes.
Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Split the cake in half. On the bottom half smear the cherry jam then gently place the other piece of cake on top. Pop in the fridge to firm up slightly – it makes the cake easier to work with.
For chocolate ganache coating, combine chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. When chocolate begins to melt, stir gently until combined and smooth and set aside in a warm place.
Scatter shredded coconut, chopped cherries and mixed spice over a tray, using your fingers to turn over and combine. Cut the sponge into sixteen 5cm squares. Using 2 forks or spoons, dip each square into the chocolate and shake to remove excess. (If chocolate starts to thicken, place bowl over gently simmering water to thin.) Roll each square in coconut mixture, shake off excess and place on a wire rack (sitting over a tray). Stand until the chocolate sets then store in an airtight container. When serving, top with flakes of shaved white chocolate (optional) and the fresh cherries. You’ll be the most popular person at Christmas.

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