Fruitcake Woes

A new take on the holiday food can make it an immediate favorite.

Each year, fruitcake aficionados trickle into the tiny town of Manitou Springs, Colo., braving the early January cold to show their appreciation for this culinary curiosity.
Granted, their admiration has more to do with pastry's projectile properties than its flavor pairings-but still, the love is there.
At the Annual Great Fruitcake Toss, located in the shadow of Pikes Peak, locals compete to see who can hurl this holiday heavyweight with the most accuracy and panache. Teams used to vie for distance-until a group of Boeing engineers sent a cake soaring nearly 1,500 feet into the nearby mountains with a pneumatic canon.
Although you probably won't attempt this feat, it still begs the question: Is the fruitcake simply a scapegoat for our holiday angst or is it really that bad?
The odd combination of candied fruit, nuts and spices was, at one time, very much in vogue. In fact, it was so beloved that in the early 1700s, European officials outlawed the savory sweet on account of its "sinful richness."
Now, collectively reviled and relegated to perpetual re-gifting, fruitcake bears the brunt of jokes before being tossed out with the other holiday trash. But things don't have to be this way. Replace the candied fruit with a tropical twist of kiwi, carrot and pecans or add a little all-American bourbon to the mix to heat things up and you might just be on to something.
It looks like the fruitcake has finally evolved. So go ahead and give it another try!

Tropical Kiwi Fruitcake Yields 10 servings

Cooking spray
1 cup Vegetable oil
1Ω  cups Granulated sugar
Ω  cup Light brown sugar
2 tsp Vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2Ω  cups All-purpose flour
2 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Ground cinnamon
Ω  tsp Baking soda
º  tsp Salt
º  tsp Ground nutmeg
8 oz. Sour cream
3 cups Carrots, grated
Ω  cup Toasted pecans, chopped
Frosting Ingredients:
Ω  cup Butter, softened
16 oz. Cream cheese
3 cups Powdered sugar
3 Tbsp Pecan halves, chopped & toasted
3 Tbsp Pitted dates, chopped
3 Tbsp Raisins, coarsely chopped    
Garnish Ingredients:
2 Kiwis, peeled and sliced long-ways
Pecan halves
Maraschino cherries

Preheat oven to 350?F. Line bottoms of 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with waxed paper; coat with cooking spray. Combine and stir oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and eggs in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.

Alternately add flour mixture and sour cream to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; stir until combined. Stir in carrot and pecans. Divide batter between pans. Bake 45 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cakes; cool completely on racks.

To make frosting: combine and beat butter and cream cheese. Gradually add powdered sugar; beat until smooth. Remove 1º  cups frosting and add pecans, dates and raisins; set remaining frosting aside. Top one cake layer with nut and fruit mixture. Place second cake layer on top. Spread thin layer of frosting over top and sides of cake. Chill cake and remaining frosting 1 hour. Spread remaining frosting over entire cake. Garnish with kiwi, pecans and cherries.
-Recipe courtesy of LouAna Oils

Hazelnut & Bourbon Torte
Serves 12-16

Call it Fruitcake 2.0, Chef Gordon's recipe is exactly what all fruitcakes should aspire to be. This gorgeous, caramel lacquered torte gets all its chutzpah from the Maker's MarkÆ Bourbon in both the cake and the glaze.

Hazelnut Paste ?(Makes 1º cups)??
2 cups Hazelnuts, skinned* & toasted?
º cup Sugar?
º tsp Salt?
1 Tbsp Water
*Note: If you cannot find skinned hazelnuts, toast hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a 350∞F oven for 10-12 minutes. Transfer the hot hazelnuts to a large bowl lined with a towel. Gather the corners of the towel and rub the hazelnuts together vigorously inside the towel. Most of the skins should come off.

Mix hazelnuts, sugar and salt in a food processor. Process until the hazelnuts break down first into a granular flour texture, then a paste, like a chunky peanut butter. Stream cold water in and continue to process until the paste forms a ball.

Hazelnut Torte??

Ω cup Maker's MarkÆ Bourbon?
1Ω cups Medjool dates, pitted & diced Ω"?
3/4 cup Golden raisins?
Ω cup Brown sugar?
2/3 cup Unsalted butter?
1 cup Hazelnut paste?
3 large Eggs?
2 tsp Vanilla paste (2 tsp vanilla extract can be substituted)
1 cup All-purpose flour?
º tsp Baking powder?
º tsp Baking soda?
1 tsp Salt?
2 cups Hazelnuts, roasted, skinned & halved?
1 recipe Bourbon caramel glaze (see below)

Preheat oven to 300∞F. Mix diced dates, raisins and bourbon. Set aside in a small bowl. Sift all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

Using a paddle attachment on a standing mixer, beat brown sugar and butter until creamed. Add the nut paste and beat until incorporated. Beat eggs in one at a time. Add the vanilla paste (or extract). Add in dry ingredients. Stir until well combined.

Drain the dried fruit from the bourbon, reserving the extra. Add the marinated fruit to the batter, then fold in the hazelnuts.

Spread batter into a greased 9" round baking pan. Bake for 60 minutes. Remove cake from oven when a testing stick comes out clean. Let cake cool completely and remove from pan. Pour reserved bourbon over the cake. Glaze the cake with the Bourbon Caramel Glaze.

Bourbon Caramel Glaze??

1/3 cup Maker's MarkÆ Bourbon?
1 cup Dark brown sugar?
Ω cup Butter?
Ω cup Heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks?
11/3 cup Powdered sugar?
1 tsp Salt?
1 tsp Vanilla paste (1 tsp vanilla extract can be substituted)?
1 tsp Molasses

In a small saucepan, melt the brown sugar and butter over a medium low heat. Stir vigorously to create a smooth texture. Stream the whipped cream into the brown sugar blend, using a whisk to incorporate the cream.Whisk in the powdered sugar. This may take a bit of work. Continue stirring until sugar has completely dissolved. Add the bourbon, salt, vanilla paste (or extract) and molasses. Remove from heat and let cool. When the glaze reads 100∞ F, pour over the cake. Refrigerate to set. Recipe courtesy of Maker's MarkÆ Bourbon. For more delicious recipes visit

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