I’ve been getting requests for fruitcakes. Traditional, mini, fruitcakes that start with a spice cake mix, even “golden” (lighter texture and taste) fruitcakes. I have to admit this makes me smile. Now I’m not crazy about fruitcake, but do like a small piece. My husband, Frank, loves fruitcake. The kids are somewhere in between.
Apparently readers like Maureen Grady, a Park Hills, Ky. reader whose Mom came from England and every year would make fruitcakes, is like Frank. “She’d make marvelous Christmas fruit cakes, large, dark and rich, which she would pour bourbon or sherry over and wrap in cheesecloth.” Maureen and the other kids shelled black walnuts for the cakes around Thanksgiving. Now that’s a wonderful holiday memory.
Here’s recipes for both little, and large, fruitcakes. If you’ve never made fruitcake, go ahead and try the mini ones. They’ve become a reader favorite. You might just become a fan!
VICTORIAN JEWELS (Mini fruitcakes)
These are so pretty and really delicious — just enough of a bite to savor that fruitcake craving. I like to marinate the fruits in brandy for a more authentic fruitcake taste. That’s optional, though. I found the original recipe in a magazine a long while back.
1-1/2 cups diced mixed candied fruits
1-1/2 cups raisins (light and dark, including currants or your choice)
1/2 cup brandy or apple juice plus extra for brushing on
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup room temperature butter
1 large egg
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon each: baking soda, salt and allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1 cup chopped nuts
Candied cherries for garnish
Melted apple jelly for glaze
Marinate fruits and raisins in brandy or juice at least 4 hours or overnight. That plumps them up. Drain if necessary.
Mix sugar, butter and egg until fairly fluffy.
Whisk together flour, soda, salt and spices; stir in.
Mix in nuts and fruits. Spoon into mini muffin tins lined with baking cups. Fill 3/4 full. Top each with cherry.
Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from tins, brush tops with extra brandy or juice while warm. Cool. Store in airtight container. Before serving, brush tops with jelly. Makes 4-5 dozen.
Sometimes I’ll vary the fruit mix and sub candied cherries for some of the mix. Save a few to put on top before baking.
4 cups chopped nuts
1-1/2 to 2 pounds diced mix candied fruits
1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 pound butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
Stir nuts and fruit with 1/4 cup flour. (Keeps them from sinking.)
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Mix flour and baking powder and mix into butter mixture. Stir in vanilla, fruit and nuts.
Spray 2 loaf pans. Pour batter into pans and put in cold oven.Turn oven on to 250 and bake for 2 hours. Check towards the end as baking times vary. Toothpick inserted in center will come out clean. Cool in pans. Store, covered, at room temperature.
This was a hit in our annual gifts from the kitchen cooking class at Jungle Jims. From Janet Hontanosas.
1-7 ounce package marzipan cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1-1/4 cups chopped Calimyrna figs ((6 ounces)
3 cups chopped dried pears, dried apricots and chopped pitted dates
*** (about 15 ounces total)
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup brandy
4 – 8” X 3-3/4” X 2-1/2” disposable aluminum pans
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
8 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1-1/2 cups pine nuts, toasted
Place marzipan on a plate; cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight. Combine dried fruit and brandy in a large bowl. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight, stirring occasionally.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter baking pans and set aside/. Beat butter, sugar and brown sugar in a bowl until light. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then add vanilla, spices and salt. Stir in flour in 4 additions. Stir in pine nuts, dried fruit and any soaking liquid from bowl. Gently stir in marzipan.
Divide batter among prepared pans. Place pans on a sheet pan. Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out completely clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool completely in pans on a cooling rack. Wrap in plastic. Let stand at least 1 day or up to 3 days at room temperature or chill up to 2 weeks. Serve at room temperature.
Makes 4 loaves
EASY FRUITCAKE (uses spice cake mix as a base)
This recipe is almost 30 years old and much easier to make than traditional fruitcake. Another reader favorite. Vary dried fruit to suit yourself.
1 pound diced candied mixed fruits
8 oz candied cherries, halved or cut
8 oz candied pineapple, cut up
1-1/2 cups chopped nuts
1/2 cup ea: dried cranberries and raisins
1/2 cup flour
1 pkg Duncan Hines deluxe II moist spice cake mix
1 four serving size vanilla instant pudding
1/2 cup Canola
3 large eggs
1/4 cup water
Preheat oven to 300. Spray two loaf pans, line with waxed paper or foil and spray again Mix fruits and nuts with flour. Set aside. Beat together rest of ingredients. Stir in fruit mixture. Batter will be very stiff. Spread in pans and bake 1-1/2 hrs or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans. Wrap, store at room temperature.
Glaze: Optional but good. Brush on warm cake: 1/4 cup clear corn syrup mixed with a couple generous tablespoons rum.