Fruit cake gets a whole lot more fun when served along side a delicious whiskey sauce. Wrap decoratively and give as a gift to all of those family members and co-workers who enjoy a party.
For the simple syrup:
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of water
About 3 tablespoons of lemon zest, cut into strips, not minced (from 2 lemons)
2 lemons, juiced (about 1/4 cup)
For the cake:
1 pound of a combination of dried fruits, such as blueberries, cranberries, cherries, raisins and chopped apricots
1 pound of unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups of sugar
4 ounces of almond paste
8 large eggs
1 cup of orange-flavored liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)
4 cups of bleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup of slivered blanched almonds
1 cup of pecan pieces
1 cup of walnut pieces
1/2 cup of bourbon
Whiskey Sauce, recipe follows
For the cake:
Prepare a simple syrup by combining sugar and water in a medium-size heavy-bottomed saucepan set over a medium-high heat. Add in the lemon zest and the juice and bring it to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil it for 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Remove strips of lemon zest and discard zest. Set the syrup aside.
Combine dried fruits in a large mixing bowl. Pour simple syrup over them, then toss to coat, and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Strain and reserve syrup.
Cream butter, sugar, and the almond paste together in an electric mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment at a low speed, occasionally scraping down sides of the bowl. Beat until mixture is fluffy and smooth, for about 2 minutes. Add in the eggs, 1 at a time, stirring in between each addition on a low speed and scraping down sides of the bowl as necessary. Add in 1/2 cup of orange liqueur and mix it to incorporate.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium-size mixing bowl and blend it well. Add mixture 1/2 cup at a time to the butter mixture with mixer on a low speed, each time stirring until smooth, for about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary. The batter should be thick.
Add in warm fruit and all nuts a little at a time, making sure to mix well. Scrape down sides of bowl and paddle.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly grease 12 mini disposable loaf pans (about 3 1/2 inches by 5 3/4 inches). Divide batter evenly between pans, about 1 cup each. Bake until they turn golden and tops spring back once touched, 35 to 40 minutes (rearranging them after 25 minutes if necessary to brown evenly).
Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pans. Remove cakes from pans and cool them completely on wire racks.
Wrap each of the cakes in a layer of cheesecloth. Store in plastic storage bags until slightly stale, 3 to 4 days.
Combine reserved simple syrup with remaining 1/2 cup of Grand Marnier and bourbon. Without removing cheesecloth, make tiny holes using a toothpick randomly on the top of each cake. Pour 2 tablespoons of syrup over top of each cake once every 2 to 3 days until all syrup is used. Let cakes age for up to 3 weeks before eating.
Serve the cakes with the Whiskey Sauce.
3 cups of heavy cream
1/2 cup of bourbon
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of cornstarch
Combine 2 1/4 cups of cream with bourbon and sugar in a medium-size nonstick saucepan set over a medium heat. Stir it to dissolve sugar.
Using a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in remaining 1/4 cup of cream. Add this to cream-and-bourbon mixture, then simmer, stirring often, until mixture thickens, after 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve it warm with fruitcake.
Sauce may be stored, once it has cooled, in an airtight container for 24 hours. Once ready to serve, warm over a low heat.
Yield: about 3 cups