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Fruitcake worth dreaming about

Tips to help you bake a cake your guests are sure to enjoy. Chefs David Lebovitz, Mary Risley and Erik Blauberg shares their recipes.

Chances are, either you -- or someone you love -- has a fruitcake hidden in the back of the pantry from the 1980s, and if what we believe about most fruitcakes is correct, it may still be edible. But fruitcakes don't have to be the sort that you'll want to regift, or hide! On NBC's "Today" show, chef David Lebovitz, author of "Ripe for Dessert," chef Mary Risley, author of "The Tante Marie's Cooking School Cookbook," chef Erik Blauberg, executive chef of the world-renown New York restaurant "21," and chef Janick Bouchard, from the Canadian restaurant called "Restaurant les Remparts,"offer their help in the search for a mouth-watering fruitcake. Check out their recipes:

Chef Janick Bouchard, Restaurant les Remparts

Hot ginger bread and fruit confit cake, maple syrup sauce, vanilla ice cream 

1 cup butter1 cup milk1 cup brown sugar5 eggs2 cups of all purpose flour 2 tbsp baking powder1/2 tbsp cinnamon1 pinch grounded clove2 vanilla pods (halved and seeded)1 cup walnuts (whole)1 cup orange confit1/2 cup dates      1/2 cup dried apricots

Set oven at 325°F. Whisk the butter and sugar until it is creamy. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly.  Add to this all dry ingredients, mix well, and then add the milk. Fold the fruits and nuts into your mixture. Grease a cake mould and pour into it your mixture.

Cook the cake at 325°F for 20 mins with a pan of water beside it in the oven. This will prevent your cake from drying out.

Maple Syrup Sauce

125 ml maple syrup400 ml 35% cream

Mix the syrup and the cream together in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, until the mixture has reduced to a thick creamy consistency, stirring often.

Vanilla ice cream

1 L 35% cream12 egg yolks200 gr sugar2 vanilla pods (beans)

DirectionsCut the vanilla pods into 2 pieces lengthwise and remove the seeds with a spoon or the tip of a knife. Set your cream to boil in a saucepan and add to it the vanilla seeds and the empty pods, watching carefully that it does not boil over.  While you wait for the cream to boil, separate the yolks from the eggs. You do not need the whites for this recipe.

In a bowl combine the sugar and the egg yolks and whisk until the mixture is frothy.

When your cream has boiled take out the four halved vanilla pods and pour onto the yolks and sugar mixing thoroughly. Return this mixture to a saucepan and cook on a very low heat, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon.

The mix is ready when it evenly coats the back of the spoon and you can draw a line with your finger.

Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl or plastic container and let it cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled, pour it into your ice cream machine and turn until ready (approximately 45 minutes to1 hour).

Plate dressing
To decorate the plate, ladle a spoon of the maple syrup sauce into the middle of the plate forming a perfect circle. Take a slice of the cake; place it off center and a scoop of the ice cream beside. Garnish with a few of the dried fruits, confit and a sprig of mint.

Chef David Lebovitz shares two recipe worth dreaming about:

Date, Ginger, and Candied Pineapple FruitcakeTwo 9-inch loaves

1/2 cup raisins1 cup diced candied ginger (5 ounces)1 1/2 cups diced pitted dates (8 ounces)1 3/4 cups diced candied pineapple (8 ounces)Grated zest of 2 oranges1/2 cup dark rum, plus more for soaking the cakes1 1/2 cups toasted macadamia nuts (or walnuts or pecans)1 cup shelled pistachios2 3/4 cups flour1/2 teaspoon salt2 teaspoons baking powder1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature3/4 cup sugar3 tablespoons honey6 large eggs, at room temperature1 tablespoon vanilla extract1/3 cup buttermilk or sour cream

1. Toss together the raisins, ginger, dates, pineapple, and orange zest with the rum. Let stand overnight, tossing once or twice. (No, you don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night. Do it before going to bed and when you get up in the morning.)2. The next day, butter two 9 by 5-inch loaf pans that are at least 2 1/2 inches deep. Cut a piece of parchment to fit in the bottom of each pan. Position the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.3. Coarsely chop the macadamia nuts and add them to the bowl with the dried fruit. Stir in the pistachio nuts.4. In another bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg.5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and honey until smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla. (The mixture will look curdled, which is fine.)6. Mix in half of the dry ingredients, next the buttermilk or sour cream, and finally the remaining dry ingredients. Stir in the fruits and nuts.7. Divide the batter equally between the prepared pans and bake for 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean. When you remove the cakes from the oven, let them cool for 30 minutes, then pour about 1/3 cup of run over each cake.8. When they have cooled to room temperature, remove the cakes from the pans. Swaddle the cakes with pieces of rum-soaked cheesecloth and put them in plastic freezer bags,. Keep in a cool place, bags slightly open. For the first week, drizzle in enough rum to moisten the cheesecloth every few days. After the first week, add more rum every few weeks.

Chocolate Cherry Fruitcake
One bundt cake, or two 9-inch loaves

The cake:1 1/2 cups dried cherries1/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons kirsch or rum1 cup walnuts, pecans, or almonds, toasted3/4 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips1 1/4 cups flour1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon baking powder10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature2 large eggs1 egg yolk1 teaspoon vanilla extract2/3 cup buttermilk or low-fat yogurt

The glaze:2 tablespoons kirsch or light rum1 cup powdered sugar

1. Soak the dried cherries with 1/4 cup of kirsch or rum for at least 4 hours.2. Butter a 10-cup bundt or tube pan. Dust it with flour and tap out any excess. Position the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.3. Chop the nuts relatively fine, mix them with the chocolate chips, and set them aside while you make the cake batter.4. Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. In a small bowl, lightly mix together the eggs and the yolk. Slowly beat the egg mixture into the butter and sugar. Mix in the vanilla.6. Stir in half the flour mixture, then add the buttermilk, and finally mix in the remaining half of the flour mixture. Gently stir in the nuts and chips.7. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes. Poke 50 times with a toothpick, then slowly drizzle the 6 tablespoons of kirsch or rum over the cake. Let cool 30 minutes, then invert the cake onto a serving plate and cool completely.8. To glaze the cake, stir together the kirsch or rum with the powdered sugar. Spoon over the top of the cake, allowing the glaze to run freely down the sides.

Variations: For the cherries, substitute 1 1/2 cups Italian candied cherries or 1 1/2 cups of any diced dried fruit.

Chef Mary Risley shares a recipe worth writing about:
Brandied Cherry-Chocolate Fruitcake

soft butter and flour for the cake pan 1/2 tsp. baking soda 1  cup buttermilk 2 cups brandied cherries, plus 1/2 cup for top 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate cut in 1/2 inch chunks 1/2 cup golden raisins 1/2 cup good quality brandy 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp. 2 cups sugar, plus 3 Tbs. for sprinkling 2 extra large eggs 3 cups all purpose flour 1 tsp. coarse salt zest of 1 orange 3/4 cup skinned hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, put a round of parchment on the bottom of the pan, which in turn should be buttered. Stir the baking soda into the buttermilk.  Stir well and set aside (the soda will make the buttermilk foam and rise.)

To plump the raisins, in a small saucepan, combine the raisins with brandy. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Cover and remove from heat; set aside to steep.

To make the cake, with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Into a sieve or sifter, measure the flour with salt. Sift the flour mixture into butter egg mixture; stir in the buttermilk mixture. Add the steeped raisins with the brandy, the brandied cherries with 1/4 cup of the cherry liquid, the orange zest and nuts.  Spoon into prepared pan; smooth top and sprinkle evenly with the 3 Tbs. of sugar. Dot the top of the batter with additional cherries. Bake in the top shelf of the preheated oven until the cake is firm to the touch and has pulled away from the sides of the pan, about 2 hours. Let cake cool on a rack 60 minutes. Carefully turn out of the pan onto a cake plate, sugared side up.  Serve warm with sweetened whipped cream, if desired. Serves 10-12.


1/2 cup sugar 1/3 cup light cream 1/3 cup light corn syrup
2 Tbs. butter 1/4 cup flour 1 cup blanched sliced almonds 1/3 cup candied orange peel 6 oz. semisweet chocolate, cut into bits

In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, cream, corn syrup, and 2 Tbs. butter. Cook mixture over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil till it reaches 238 degrees on a candy thermometer. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and sift in the flour, stirring. Stir in the almonds and candied orange peel. With a teaspoon, drop the batter in small mounds 2 1/2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread the nut mixture slightly with the back of the spoon. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 8-10 minutes, or until they are well browned.  Let cool for 1 minute, then with a metal spatula, transfer to a rack to cool completely.

In another heavy saucepan, melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Paint the bottom of each cookie with the chocolate and decorate with the tines of a fork or a pastry comb. Let the chocolate set in a cool place. Serve chocolate side down. Makes 24.

Candied Orange Peel

1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups water
peel from six navel oranges orange flavored liqueur

Place the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and cook over a low heat until the sugar is melted. Remove the peel from the oranges in quarters and scrape some of the pith out with a spoon. Add the peel to the sugar syrup and simmer gently until the peel is translucent. Remove the orange peel and place in a glass jar. Let the syrup cool, then pour over the peel. Add enough orange flavored liqueur to cover. Store in fridge.

Chef Erik Blauberg shares his favorite fruitcake recipe:

8 oz Golden Raisins8 oz Raisins8 oz Currents10 oz Cold Tea (soak)6 oz Dark Brown Sugar1 lb. all-purpose flour1 tsp baking powder1 tsp all-spice¼ tsp salt¼ tsp cinnamon¼ tsp clove4 oz sweet butterzest of one orange1 apple peeled and grated1 egg (whole)

Place all dried fruit and sugar into a bowl with cold tea. Let stand overnight. Add all dry ingredients together. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients. Add the soaked fruit into the dry ingredients. Mix in the orange zest, apple and egg. Combine all ingredients together to make a loose mix and pour into a greased 9" baking pan. Place into a pre-heated 350°F oven and bake approximately 90 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean from the center.

Yield: One 9" cake.

Recipes provided by Erik Blauberg, executive chef of New York's "21" restaurant, chef Mary Risley, author of "The Tante Marie's Cooking School Cookbook," and chef David Lebovitz, author of "Ripe for Dessert." Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission.