Why It Works
- A mix of cherries, apricots, candied ginger, and golden raisins soaked overnight in rum becomes tiny rum bombs, soft and chewy even when frozen.
- The brown sugar custard base is revved up with allspice, clove, and orange zest.
- When mixed with nuts and sweet frozen custard, the rum-soaked fruit offer the balanced boozy bite you wish fruitcake had: assertive but not overpowering.
I didn't grow up eating fruitcake, so I have no emotional baggage surrounding it.* No grimacing with false gratitude as I open up a gift of chemically sweetened candied fruit, no family jokes about the fruitcake that's passed around from year to year.
*Save that for herring in cream sauce with raw onions.
And yet it seems that even talking to people about fruitcake sets their teeth on edge. Which I don't get, because hey: dried fruit, toasted nuts, sweet spices, and lots of booze? What's not to love? Does fruitcake deserve its maligned reputation when it has the potential to be the condensed version of everything that's delicious about cake?
"all fruitcake in spirit, but easier to make."
The result is this, an ice cream that's all fruitcake in spirit, but easier to make. The base is a sweet brown sugar custard revved up with allspice, clove, and orange zest. There's some rum in it too, but it functions more like vanilla than a super-strong flavoring in and of itself. The real boozy punch comes in from the dried fruit—I went with a mix of cherries, apricots, candied ginger, and golden raisins—re-hydrated overnight in about a cup of rum. The fruits become tiny rum bombs, soft and chewy even when frozen, releasing their rummy payload as you bite down on them. But when chilled and mixed with nuts and sweet frozen custard, they offer the balanced boozy bite you wish fruitcake had: assertive but not overpowering.
Like in a traditional fruitcake, this ice cream is meant to be dense and full of chunks—you get to enjoy chewing it from start to finish. And even though it's a frozen dessert, it's plenty warming. The spices and fruit mingle just so, and roasty-sweet nuts, brown sugar, and rum come together for something that tastes a whole lot like Christmas. I may be eating Chinese food and seeing a movie on December 24th, but this is what I'll be eating afterward.
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup dried apricots, minced
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup candied ginger
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons gold rum, divided (such as Appleton Estate)
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon clove
2 cups cream
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest from 1 orange
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
Combine cherries, apricots, raisins, and ginger in a bowl and add 3/4 cup rum. Stir to submerge fruit, cover with plastic wrap, and let soak at room temperature for 24 hours.
In a heavy saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, brown sugar, allspice, and clove until well combined. Slowly add in cream and milk, whisking constantly, and set saucepan on medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until a thick custard forms on the back of a spoon but a swiped finger leaves a clean line, 5 to 7 minutes.
Pour through a strainer into an airtight container and stir in rum, orange zest, and salt incrementally to taste. Cover and chill overnight.
The next day, toast pecans and almonds, then transfer to freezer. Strain dried fruit mixture, reserving remaining rum for another use (apple cider cocktails, to start). Chill fruit in freezer.
Churn ice cream according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to an airtight container capable of holding at least 7 cups, and very quickly stir in fruit and nuts until well combined. Chill in freezer for at least 3 hours before serving.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 10 to 12|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 22g||28%|
|Saturated Fat 11g||53%|
|Total Carbohydrate 28g||10%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||4%|
|Total Sugars 24g|
|Vitamin C 2mg||12%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|