The scene: Playing in the background is my favorite Christmas music compilation with “Merry Christmas, Baby” specifically being belted out at the moment (an amazing rendition sung by me and B.B. King); Soon-to-be-in-my-oven: a dozen individual fruitcakes!
December has arrived!
Welcome to the holiday season and all the stress, anxiety, eating, and fun that comes with it! Once you throw in a spritz of Cousin Joe’s dysfunctional family you are now ready to set up your January therapy appointments!!
This is the time of year I often pass along home-baked goodies to my friends and family. Some of my favorite handouts are my individual fruitcakes which are loaded with dried fruits and three types of nuts.
Don’t stop reading…I heard your groans and I can see your finger hovering, ready to shut down this open tab. Just. Stop. Pause…curl back that finger and give me a few more paragraphs. I beg of you!
I PROMISE this is NOT the same fruitcake passed around year after year. Or used as a door stop. Or placed in the back of Aunt Mary’s pantry once she accepts it with that tight-lipped smile and curt “Why thank-you…I LOVE fruitcakes” (and you know she really hates them; she’s just counting down how many days are appropriate to keep it before handing it off/using it as a doorstop/tossing that sucker…)
No, this is notTHAT fruitcake.
In fact, I’ve considered not calling it a fruitcake at all for those very reasons. There is a stigma sometimes associated with fruitcakes. If you secretly love them there may be a need to justify that love…to explain how you could possibly enjoy such a dense, dark, cloying thing. Alas, so many of us have been hiding our love for years…lurking in the pantry ashamed of our hidden passion.
So then, if I’m not going to call it a fruitcake, what to name it? What should one label this piece of heaven sent from my oven?
It is moist.
Boozy. (Hell to the yeah!)
And it is fruity.
It’s a Fruitcake…
So what makes this one different? Well, first of all, it is not a dark fruitcake overwhelmed with too many spices. It is a tender, liquored up white cake studded with several types of fruits and nuts.
…the next crucial element. I do not use those pre-packaged glacéed squares which are super chewy and god-awful sweet (you know exactly what I’m talking about…those glow-in-the-dark ones that make your teeth clamp together and take days to recover from!). Instead, I select each type of dried fruit that goes into the mix, making a balanced blend of tart cherries, raisins, blueberries, apricots, and cranberries. A warm simple syrup bath re-plumps the fruit and brings it back to life.
There is LOVE in them thar fruits!
Those two things alone make a huge difference between my cake and other typical ones. But the final detail involves the [copious amounts of] booze used. I add a tad bit more to the soaking liquid than called for in the recipe. It gently seeps into the cakes and surrounds those fruits and nuts with a heavenly essence. I use the good stuff, mind you: a mix of Makers Mark Bourbon and Grand Marnier. I’d say there’s about ½ to 1 cup more in the soaking mixture than the recipe calls for. It seems to work.
When you go to serve it, a whiskey sauce makes a nice festive touch; however, we prefer it ‘as is’ and paired with a nice glass of port. You cannot go wrong either way.
At long last, here is the link for Emeril’s Creole Christmas Fruitcakes (click on the highlighted area). This is the recipe I use, again, adding a ‘touch’ more spirit to the soaking liquid than called for.
I won’t judge if you use less…or even more. Your cakes; your rules…
Finally, a fruitcake we can all come out of the pantry to enjoy!