Caribbean Black Fruitcake
Also known as wedding cake, Christmas cake, and bolo pretu, among other monikers, this cake has roots throughout the Caribbean and is usually reserved for the celebratory events it’s named for. Not unlike the more common dark fruitcakes, it’s packed with dried fruits, nuts, and warm spices, but the molasses found in stateside cakes is swapped for burnt sugar (see “What to buy”), resulting in a slightly bitter yet rich, chocolaty flavor. This cake has endless ingredient variations, but one is universal—rum, and lots of it!
What to buy: Burnt sugar syrup is the crucial ingredient, giving this cake its deep black color and unique flavor, which cannot successfully be mimicked by dark corn syrup or molasses, not even blackstrap. Although burnt sugar can be made at home, the process can be imprecise. We like Blue Mountain Country for its moderate sweetness and chocolate notes.
Use our recipe for Candied Grapefruit Zest and swap out the grapefruit peel for orange. A homemade candied citrus yields the best results, but if you’d rather purchase some, use a high-quality candied zest, which usually appears in the fall at gourmet or specialty stores. Don’t even think about using the scary, Day-Glo fruit found in tubs—it tastes as horrible as it looks.
Game plan: You have to let the fruit macerate for 1 week before proceeding with the recipe, so factor that into your fruitcake-making plans.
Because the fruit in this cake is already saturated with alcohol, we found that additional soaking was not necessary. The cake can be eaten on the day it’s made, or can be aged up to 2 months without affecting its taste or texture.
This recipe was featured as part of our Shockingly Tasty Fruitcakes project.
For the fruit:
- 1 3/4 cups whole raw almonds, coarsely chopped
- 1 3/4 cups dried cherries, coarsely chopped
- 1 3/4 cups prunes, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups dark rum, such as Myers’s, plus 4 tablespoons for brushing
- 1 1/2 cups raisins, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups ruby port
- 1 1/4 cups currants
- 3/4 cup candied orange peel, coarsely chopped
For the cake:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup burnt sugar syrup
For the fruit:
- 1Combine all ingredients in a 3-quart container with a tightfitting lid and mix well. Cover tightly and store in a dark, cool, dry place for 1 week.
For the cake:
- 1Heat the oven to 300°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with butter; set aside.
- 2Combine flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg in a large bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps. Set aside.
- 3Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and beat on medium speed until pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and return the mixer to medium speed. Add eggs one at a time, letting each mix in fully before adding the next. Add vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and return the mixer to low speed.
- 4Add flour mixture, macerated fruit and nuts along with any unabsorbed liquid, and burnt sugar, and mix until just combined. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans (the pans will be completely full).
- 5Bake until a cake tester comes out clean (the cake centers will be very moist), about 2 hours.
- 6Let cool 30 minutes in the pans on a wire rack. Turn cakes out onto the rack, and brush each with 2 tablespoons dark rum. Cool completely before slicing and eating, or aging.
- 7To age, store each cooled cake in a resealable plastic bag at room temperature for up to 2 months. A dark cupboard or pantry is ideal, but do not refrigerate, as the moisture level will change the texture.
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