McIntosh Dark Christmas Cake

Okay…I hear ya! It may seem too early to start this, but trust me, NOW is the right time to make this cake! Once baked and wrapped and stored, you are going to take it out every two or three weeks and brush it with your favourite brandy! Keep doing that right up until the cakes are all gone!! You won’t regret it…

FYI…this is Larry’s mother’s recipe with a slight change. Since we had no cherries, we replaced them with dried cranberries. He also added some Kirsch to make up for the lack of cherry flavour… BTW…MY mother used glazed pineapple too!

Mrs. McIntosh’s Dark Christmas Cake*

Fruit Mixture:

3 cups seedless raisins

3 cups Sultana raisins

1 cup dates cut up

1.5 cup dried cranberries OR glazed cherries

3 cups mixed peel

1 cup chopped pecans OR walnuts

Dry Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

3 tsp.cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

¼ tsp. mace

½ tsp. ginger

¼ tsp. ground cloves

Wet Ingredients:

10 Tablespoons butter

10 Tablespoons shortening (Crisco)

8 eggs

1.5 cups brown sugar

2/3 cup orange juice

Line 2 loaf pans with heavy waxed paper and brown paper.


Soak fruit with 1/3 cup Kirsch liqueur

Add the nuts; dust with ¼ cup flour.

Stir Dry Ingredients (remaining flour and spice) together in a separate bowl.

Cream Wet Ingredients (shortening, butter and sugar), beating together until fluffy.

Add eggs ONE AT A TIME, beating well after each.

Blend in dry ingredients; fold in ½ fruit and nut mixture.

Add orange juice slowly while mixing in, and then add second half fruit mixture.

Fill prepared pans 2/3 full.

Bake in a slow oven (300 degrees) 2 hours or until done. Place a pan of hot water in a shallow pan on bottom rack during baking. Remove after one hour!

Cool before removing paper; re-wrap and store in an airtight container in a cool place.


Slow Cooker Porridge

Porridge you say? Well we have been in Ontario for two weeks now and so far, it has rained, snowed, sleeted and been quite cold. I should have had lots of time to send new posts, but moving around has its drawbacks with, aka Internet problems.

Today? It’s raining as it always seems to do when we travel anywhere in the world. Fortunately, our friend Joan on Howe Island where we were staying made us this great porridge yesterday morning to warm our bodies. It was great, as was our visit with she and Gary!! Thanks Joan and Gary for a wonderful visit!!

So, for all you northerners, here is the recipe  made by Joan…

4 cups water

1 cup steel cut oats (available at Loblaws …you guys in Mexico can buy rolled oats)

1’2 cup milk

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1’2 cup chopped dried figs

1/2 cup raisins or chopped dates

I think you could use almost any combination of dried fruits, i.e. mango, apples, bananas, etc.

Put all ingredients into the slow cooker on low just before you go to bed (assuming you don’t go to bed at 7 pm…or get up at noon!)

When you wake up it will be ready! Next I will look for slow cooker coffee…since I can’t figure out how to set the coffee maker yet…haha

Cranberry Date Squares

In his quest for the ultimate date square and his love of all things cranberry, here is Larry’s version of the old-fashioned date square.

Date Squares with Cranberries

Adapted from Food and Drink Magazine (LCBO) AUTUMN 2007


If you like thinner squares use a larger pan. Although the original recipe does not call for grated orange rind you can add about 1 tbsp (15 mL) to the filling mixture for a flavour contrast.

4 cups (1 L) chopped, pitted dates OR 3 cups dates and 1 cup fresh cranberries OR 2 + 2

¾ cup (175 mL) sugar (omit the sugar if using the cranberries*)

¾ cup (175 mL) orange juice

½ tsp (2 mL) lemon juice

2 cups (500 mL) flour

2 cups (500 mL) quick-cooking oats

1½ cups (375 mL) brown sugar

½ tsp (2 mL) baking powder

½ tsp (2 mL) baking soda

½ tsp (2 mL) salt

1½ cups (375 mL) melted butter, cold


1. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).

2. Combine dates, cranberries, sugar*, orange juice and lemon juice in a large pot. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring periodically, for 7 minutes or until mixture combines and becomes spreadable.

3. Grease and line an 8 x 10-inch (20 x 25-cm) baking pan with parchment paper. Grease again.

4. Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and melted butter in a large bowl. Mix well. Divide mixture in half. Press half of the mixture into prepared baking sheet.

5. Spread date mixture over bottom crust and sprinkle with remaining flour mixture. Press down slightly.

6. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes or until topping is flecked with gold. Cool completely and refrigerate for 2 hours or until filling is set. Cut into squares and keep in a cookie tin, not the refrigerator.

Makes about 20 squares