Thursday, December 04, 2014

Bolo Preto (Caribbean Black Cake) No ordinary fruitcake!

Traditional Fruitcake
All my life, I have cringed at the taste and smell of candied, dried fruits and chopped nuts baked into a sometimes moist (most times not) pound cake-like bread. Fruitcake! Yuk. I call them doorstops. I am a believer in the theory that there is actually only one actual fruitcake and it is re-gifted over and over and over again, year after year. But, I could be wrong.

The earliest recipe from ancient Rome lists pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and raisins, mixed into barley mash. In the Middle Ages, honey, spices, and preserved fruits were added and the name fruitcake was first used.

I was turned off even by the thought of fruitcake, that is until a few years ago, when my friend and muse, Elaine, the original Gourmet Girl, shared with me the most amazing, traditional Caribbean fruitcake recipe from her Aruban mom. While I was skeptical at first, after watching bottle after bottle of liquor added over a months time, I started to think, "Ok, this one may be different." This is Elaine's version and she calls it "Black Cake" and folks, it is truly amazing. Delicious, moist and unlike any traditional fruitcake I had ever tasted. But beware, unless you have a strong constitution, more than one piece will leave you a bit tipsy!

 For those that do not like fruitcake, this recipe is such a completely opposite version of what the term fruitcake conjures up in our mind. Moist, delicious, with marinated fruit that is soft, chewy and definitely not candied hard little bits of yuk. And, with all that liquor, this is definitely NOT a version to share with the kids. Unless of course you'd like a little piece and quiet. One piece ought to have even the most active child sleeping like a baby within the hour. (Okay you crazies, I see you sitting there thinking about that. That was just a joke! I am not advocating sharing a liquor infused fruitcake with children!)

The recipe is as follows and you should start now if you want to be on time for Christmas, as it takes up to a MONTH to soak the fruit properly!

Elaine Giammetta's Bolo Preto
Makes 1 large loaf  or 8 individual loafs (Individual loaf shown here)

Elaine Giammetta's Caribbean Black Cake
1/2 cup chopped prunes
1 /2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped dried figs
1/2 cup chopped dried dates
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped dried peaches
1/4 cup chopped candied pineapple
1/4 cup chopped candied oranges
1/4 cup chopped candied lemons
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup cake flour (no need to add baking powder)
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 stick sweet unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs
1 Bottle of Amaretto (can also use brandy or cognac)
1 Bottle of Frangelico

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Put fruits and nuts into a very large plastic container (DO NOT USE METAL) Completely cover all the chopped fruits and nuts with the Frangelico and Amaretto. Cover tightly and put into a cool, dry spot. Let it soak for a minimum of one month, checking weekly to be sure that fruit remains completely covered with liquid. Add additional liquor as necessary as the liquor, even in a sealed container will evaporate. (We added at least 1 more bottle of each liquor) Told you this is NOT for kids!

After 30 days drain the excess liquid from the marinated fruit, reserving the liquid to use later. Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat eggs for 3 minutes on low. Add the sugar/butter mixture to the eggs. Add salt to the flour, slowly incorporate flour into the fruit/nut mixture. Gradually add egg and butter mixture to the fruit until you have the consistency of a cake batter. If necessary, add additional flour, being careful not to add too much, as the fruit mixture will be very ‘wet.’

Elaine Giammetta's Caribbean Black Cake
Lightly butter and flour baking pans. (I like to use the small individual loaf pans.) Pour batter into pans ¾ full. Cook until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Be sure to check on cakes periodically, if top begins to darken, cover with aluminum foil to prevent burning. Depending on the size of your pan, cooking time can take up to an hour (Bundt pan). Cool cakes completely. Using toothpick, prick the top of the cakes and drizzle reserved liquor over cakes. Repeat until all liquor has been absorbed.

WOW does that sound amazing or what? I have learned my lesson; always stay open minded and never count a recipe out until you’ve tried every imaginable version. I am now a believer! Viva La Fruitcake!

Happy Holidays and as always, 

Bon Appetit!

Image source fruitcake;

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