There’s fruitcake and then there is black cake, or Caribbean rum-soaked fruit cake.
It is a less family friendly version, although alcohol-free versions of the recipe are available. The fruit is macerated in port wine (apple or orange juice can also be used) and no large chunks remain in the cake itself, such that the fruit blends into the batter.
Ideally, the fruit should be soaked in port and rum for a minimum of a week and for as long as a year, which requires a whole other level of dedication.
If lacking in time, one tip is to simmer the fruit in port for 20 minutes. Alternatively, baking it on low heat (180-200F) in a covered dish for an hour or more would achieve the same result with less chance of burning.
Once the cake is made, it is recommended to let it sit a minimum of three days before eating for the best flavour.
Another excellent option is English trifle. Most recipes use sponge cake, but lady fingers – a hard, dry cookie – are more absorbent. The fruit is soaked in sherry and most recipes use strawberries or raspberries.
However kiwis, mandarin oranges, blueberries and any other soft fruit can also be used to make the finished product more colourful and add different flavours.
Trifle is created by layering lady fingers, fruit, custard and whipping cream until the bowl is full, preferably a clear one for maximum visual impact.
Chocolate trifle is a decadent, alcohol-free option. Depending on time availability and one’s mood, using homemade chocolate cake and pudding along with fresh whipped cream provides a richer version than using prepackaged alternatives.
None of these could claim to be healthy. The black cake calls for a pound of both butter and sugar along with a dozen eggs. The custard and whipping cream outweigh any benefit of fruit in the English trifle and chocolate trifle is an indulgence the Christmas season allows.
SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News