For all those Scrooges out there who claim not to like fruitcake, it’s time you gave the Caribbean version a try, as something special is going on here. It’s the browning in part, which adds a slight bitter note — a welcome twist to the normal fruitcake sweet explosion. The fresh citrus zest brings a delicate little twang to the party, and hello — the wine and the rum. That’s good livin’, Jamaica style. So throw on your favorite Wailing Souls record and let’s get after this.
Begin by gathering your ingredients, preheating your oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit, and lining two 9″ x 2″ lubricated cake pans.
Also called Jamaican Fruitcake, or Jamaican/Caribbean Christmas Cake, Black Cake, or Wedding Cake, this rum-soaked delicacy can take up to a year to prepare for the very dedicated. But it’s worth the time and trouble. For best results you want to make the fruit mixture at least 3 months ahead of time and bake it about 5 days before you plan to serve it to let the flavors blend. This recipe is enough for two 9-inch round cakes. You’ll need:
The drunken fruit mixture (all of it)
10 ounces all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
11 ounces unsalted butter, soft
11 ounces dark brown sugar
7 eggs, room temperature
Zest of 2 limes
Zest of 1 orange
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons Caribbean browning
Ooh that’s artsy. What can I say, I get in those moods. “Browning” is the Caribbean version of Kitchen Bouquet or Grace. It’s a sauce additive, really just a brown coloring, used to give things like stews and gravies a deep, rich appearance. I myself am going to use it for Caribbean fruitcake. Given that the application is sweet rather than savory, it makes sense that Caribbean fruitcake lovers make their own, as homemade browning has no salt or meat or vegetable favors in it. It’s just deeply, deeply caramelized sugar that yes, tastes like the darkest of dark molasses, but then just a little bit delivers a whole lot of color with no taste to speak of.
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