I had people over for Christmas treats last weekend, and my next few posts are going to be about all the cookies and pies I made. 

Today, though, is about fruitcake.

I make fruitcake every year, using the Good Eats Free Range Fruitcake recipe.  It’s really very good, but it’s a little alcoholic for my friends with kids, and sometimes it just doesn’t feel like fruitcake without terrifyingly-red candied cherries:

Cherries

But I’m also not a fan of fruitcakes that contain nothing but raisins and Scary Candied Fruit.  So I was going to skip making fruitcake altogether this year.  Then I saw this Chocolate Cherry Fruitcake from King Arthur.  It looked like the solution to all my issues – it had real fruit and nuts, it had candied cherries, and who can complain about the addition of chocolate?  My only worry was the "Jammy Bits", but they had a free-shipping special, and I figured it was worth a try.

When I got the box, they turned out to be just like little tiny fruit-flavored gumdrops.  I have a good recipe for fruit-flavored gumdrops, so next time I’ll just make my own. 

The fruitcake went together easy enough.  It said to soak the dried cherries in brandy, rum, or water, but apple cider would have worked just as well and added more flavor then water.  Once the dried cherries were soaked, the rest of the batter ingredients went in the stand mixer – butter, sugar, baking powder, salt, and vanilla and almond extract first, then 3 eggs. 

Then the flour got mixed in, alternating with the milk.  Once the batter was done, I mixed in the fruit, nuts, and chocolate by hand.  I’ve had trouble in the past with the mixer being too violent and breaking up chocolate chips, and I wanted them whole.

I used two baking pans – a 8×4 and a 10xsomething loaf pan, because that’s what I had.  They both took about the same time to bake – just over an hour.

I had some trouble getting them out of the pans – next time I’ll line them with parchment paper, at least on the bottoms, to make it easier.

Once they were cool, I brushed them with simple syrup (one part water, one part sugar, cook until the sugar is dissolved, then cool).  I brushed them with one more coat just before serving.

P1040434

I was impressed.  The chocolate made it different enough to be interesting, and I thought the ratio of real fruit to candied fruit was just right.  It had just enough batter to hold all the fruit together.  I had been tempted to toss some cinnamon in the batter, but it didn’t need it – the fruit carried it just fine on it’s own.

I’ll make it again. Next time, in the little paper pans so I can give them out as last-minute gifts.  Because fruitcake doesn’t have to be awful!

( see the recipe )