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Friday, December 7, 2018

A White Christmas



I’ve got just the item for you to have a white Christmas….and it’s not snow.  Let’s just call it a white dessert for now.  This no-name sweet is the polar opposite of another similar holiday dessert that is brown.  Although they have similar sounding names, the white version bares absolutely no resemblance to the bah-humbug brown rendition.  They are as different as Snow-White and snow.

Hopefully, I’ve enticed you enough to now actually unveil the name of this wondrous Christmas treat:  it’s a white fruitcake.  Before you stop reading let me say that I absolutely abhor regular fruitcake.  It’s a glucose bomb of the worst kind, sickeningly sweet, often dry, and without any redeeming factor that I know of (well, maybe the bourbon might be OK).  Its white counterpart, on the other hand, has undergone a complete metamorphosis.  There’s no comparison between the two.  In fact, I think the white version needs to drop any association with the dark and be given an entirely new name.  Perhaps White Bliss, Holiday Ecstasy, or White Fruit Crack?

This decadently rich white version melts in your mouth.  It’s a buttery, complex, moist cake in which the sum is so much greater than the many individual components.  Unlike its brown counterpart, the majority of fruit in the recipe is from dates and golden raisins.  I’m not certain of the recipe’s origin, however, Jeffrey Steingarten’s book, The Man Who Ate Everything, offers a similar recipe.  Mr. Steingarten, a culinary professional and popular television personality on the Food Channel, cooks his, at a higher temperature.  

My recipe comes from my husband's brother, John, who gifts us each holiday season with two of these outrageous treats (it used to be one, but a few years ago I ate nearly the entire gift so he now sends one to my husband, and one to me).   John informed me that the recipe he uses appeared years ago in the local newspaper of his wife Iva Lou's family in Oklahoma.   John, who was a Superintendent of Schools in Kansas, began making this fruitcake years ago as Christmas gifts for his teachers.  Seems his troops liked it so much that their cakes began requesting them in October!  I can certainly understand why.

Ingredients:

1 pound of unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
6 beaten eggs
4 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup good quality candied cherries, cut in half (recommend Harry & David, if not  
          supermarket version will work).  I use both red and green to give it that yuletide 
          color.
½ cup good quality candied pineapple (recommend Harry & David, if not supermarket 
         version will work)
1 lb.  *white* raisins
1 lb. chopped dates
2 cups nuts (either pecan or walnut)
1 tablespoon vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Butter two loaf pans and line with parchment paper.

Place all fruit and nuts in a medium bowl and add two tablespoons from the 4 cups of flour to coat the fruit so it doesn’t clump when added to the wet mixture.  In a large separate bowl, cream butter and sugar thoroughly, then mix in beaten eggs.  Add the vanilla.  With a strong, wooden spoon next add the remaining flour and salt, then the fruit/nut mixture.  Bake for three hours.

Believe me, this one is a keeper.  Visions of fruitcake will dance in your head!


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