There is a saying in Spain, “till San Anton, Easter is”, obviously in Spanish it rhymes. But the point is that it is still perfectly correct to post Christmas recipes (until Saint Anthony’s feast day, January 17th), so here they are: two Christmas classics.
When I lived in Panama, from one year to another the holidays’ menus could change from turkey to ham or chicken pie, there could be at the table tamales or rice. But two things were a constant: Fruit cake and Ron Ponche. When I was growing up, my grandparents’ house was the headquarter of every main celebration, so the house was always fill with friends and family and there was always the distant cousin that will make his/hers appearances by that time, so you ought to be prepare…and have a fruitcake at hand!
As I didn’t want to break with this tradition this year, even being away, I made a reduced version of a fruitcake and a small batch of Ron Ponche.
You shall keep these recipes for next Christmas and give a Panamanian touch to your holidays.
This is the Panamanian version of Egg Nog. During the Holydays, every time you pay a visit, there’s a 99,99% chance that you will be offered a glass of Ron ponche and a piece of fruit cake… at least in the good old days
- 2 cups condensed milk
- 3 cups evaporated milk
- 2 cups water
- 3 egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- ¾ cup rum or to taste
In a medium saucepan, mix the milks and water and heat them over medium heat, until hot but not simmering, stirring occasionally.
In a small bowl, beat the yolks and add to it 3 tablespoons (one at a time) of the milk mixture to raise the temperature of the yolks, stirring continuously.
When the milk mixture starts to simmer, add the egg yolks in a thin stream, stirring constantly to prevent lumps forming.
Keep cooking over medium- low heat, stirring frequently, until mixture begins to thicken, about 20 minutes (do not let simmer).
Remove from heat, pour through a fine sieve into a bowl to remove any lumps, add the vanilla and whisk.
Allow it to cool and incorporate nutmeg. Finally, add the rum until it is to your liking.
Refrigerate before serving.
With this recipe I cheated a little. I was inspired by Peggy Porschen’s recipe (the amounts are perfect for a little cake), but I gave it the Panamanian touch by adding some of the ingredients that we usually find in fruit cakes in Panama.
- 200 grams of raisins
- 50 grams of chopped walnuts
- A handful of chopped dried figs
- 100 g of candied cherries, cut in half
- 150 g of candied fruits, chopped
- 60 ml of rum, whiskey or Port
- 50 g of molasses
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 eggs
- 90 grams of brown sugar
- 115 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 25g ground almonds
- 90 g flour
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of ground cloves
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
- 30 ml of rum, whisky or port for soaking (optional)
This cake is richer when prepared 3-4 days before eating, well wrapped to preserve moisture. You may want to feed it with the chosen alcohol several times before serving it.
The first step is to place all the ingredients for the fruit mix into a big bowl, stir well and cover with cling film. Leave to infuse overnight at room temperature.
The next day, preheat the oven to 140 º C ( 285 º F) , line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper and place the oven rack in the lowest level.
Beat the eggs and sugar in a medium bowl.
In the mixer bowl, mix butter with ground almonds until the mixture is creamy.
Add eggs and mix until well incorporated, if it starts to curdle, add a tablespoon of flour, which will help to bind the mixture.
Whisk the remaining dry ingredients and add to the wet ingredients in two batches, mixing until just combined.
Add the fruit and mix well with a spatula or a wooden spoon.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin, level the surface with the back of a spoon and tap on your counter to release any air bubbles.
Bake for 2 or 3 hours, depending on your oven. To prevent overbrowning, place an empty tray in the rack above the cake.
The cake is ready when the top is golden brown and a knife or skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. While still warm, brush the top of the cake with the chosen alcohol.
Leave the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before wrapping in greaseproof and aluminum foil.