I have a confession to make. I love fruitcake. I know, a nice Jewish girl has no business loving the red and green candied cherries but I do. Whole heartedly and unapologetically. I love it so much I even use candied fruitcake mix in my Rosh Hashana Challah. In my family fruitcake is a New Year’s tradition, eaten at midnight with a small glass of eggnog. As a kid I remember the excitement of the whole tradition. There was something exotic to me about grating fresh nutmeg over the glasses of thick rich eggnog, slicing the multicolored fruitcake and carefully carrying the tray loaded with goodies to the TV room where we would watch the ball drop. The best fruitcake, surprisingly enough, used to be the one we got at Costco. (my parents remember the Sears fruitcake and mentioned it each year, but they had stopped carrying it by the time I can remember). I don’t know if the Costco fruitcake was as good as I remember, or if it is nostalgia speaking, but it is the memory I compete with every time I try another fruitcake. My dad is the one who shares my love of fruitcake, and my mom always tries to order the best one available for him.
Surprisingly, for someone who loves fruitcake and baking, I have never made one. I always think of it too late, and give up when I get to the part of the recipe that states “age for 2 or more weeks”. This year we have the privelege of spending New Year’s in California with my parents, and I decided to bring homemade fruitcake all the way from New York for the celebration. Since there are people in my family who claim not to like fruitcake, I decided to make two different versions, a less dense more cake-like one made with only dried fruit and a darker one full of the candied fruit I adore. I made them a little more than two weeks ago, and each one aged according to the recipe. Since it is our tradition to eat them with eggnog (primarily made of cream) it seemed silly to consume the unhealthy transfats of margarine unnecessarily, so I used butter like the recipes called for. I imagine they would be just as good made parve with that simple substitution.
I can’t wait until New Years to try them.