Creole Christmas Fruitcake
1 pound combination dried fruits (cranberry, cherry, raisin, chopped
1 pound unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
4 ounces almond paste
8 large eggs
1 cup grand marnier
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 cup slivered blanched almonds
1 cup pecan pieces
1 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup bourbon
Make a simple syrup by combining 2 c. of sugar and 2 c. of water in
a medium -size heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 3
tbl. lemon zest and 1/4 c. lemon juice and bring to a boil, stirring
to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 2 minutes and remove from the heat.
Combine the dried fruits together in a large mixing bowl. Pour the
simple syrup over them, toss to coat, and let steep for 5 minutes.
Strain and reserve the syrup. Creme the butter, sugar, and almond
paste together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle
at low speed, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat
until the mixture is fluffy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the
eggs one at a time, mixing in between each addition on low speed and
scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add 1/2 cup of the
Grand Marnier and mix to incorporate.
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a
medium-size mixing bowl and blend well. Add this mixture 1/2 cup at
a time to the butter mixture with the mixer on low speed, each time
mixing until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the
bowl as necessary. The batter will be thick. Add the warm fruit and
all the nuts a little at a time, mixing well.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Preheat the oven
to 350ºF. Lightly grease twelve 1 pound loaf pans. Spoon about 1 cup
of the batter into each pan. Bake until golden and the tops spring
back when touched, about 45 minutes (rearranging them after 25
minutes if necessary to brown evenly). Cool for 10 minutes in the
pans. Remove cakes from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.
Wrap each cake in a layer of cheesecloth. Store in plastic storage
bags until they are slightly stale, 3 to 4 days.
Combine the reserved simple syrup with the remaining 1/2 cup Grand
Marnier and the bourbon. Without removing the cheesecloth, make tiny
holes with a toothpick randomly on the top of each cake. Pour 2
tablespoons of the syrup over the top of each cake once every 2 to 3
days until all of the syrup is used. Let the cakes age for up to 3
weeks before eating.
Yield: 12 cakes