As the weather starts to get cooler, and as a memory of making the Christmas cake in England, here is a very simple recipe for brandied raisins.
It has been a family tradition to make the Christmas cake in about September or October, in order that it is well-matured by Christmas. A good dark fruit Christmas cake will actually last about a year undecorated, believe it or not - and be absolutely delicious for it! Even decorated with marzipan and royal icing, I have memories of still eating absolutely delicious Christmas cake in March..!
The secret is in the brandy. It is preserved with brandy. From the three weeks prior to making the cake (when you are soaking the raisins in brandy) to the months after baking the cake (and before decorating it), when you are carefully unwrapping the cake and sprinkling it with a tablespoon of brandy on a weekly basis - it is steeped in brandy - this cake is good stuff!
A few years ago, my mother did some of these raisins over ice cream, and believe me, they're wonderful! It's very simple - just put some raisins in a container, pour over a generous amount of brandy (you don't have to cover the raisins, but enough to swill them around in), shake well and keep in the fridge. Every few days when you think of it, open the container and toss the raisins a bit more. After at least a week, you can start eating them! However, they do last almost indefinitely if they remain covered with brandy...
As I say, they're delicious hot or cold on ice cream or on Melted Camembert with Toasted Walnuts and Brandied Raisins.