Traditional winter holiday cakes made with an assortment of candied fruit and fruit rind, nuts, spices and usually liquor or brandy. Fruitcakes can have a moderate amount of cake surrounding the chunky ingredients, or only enough to hold the fruits and nuts together. Dark fruitcakes are generally made with molasses or brown sugar and dark liquor such as bourbon. Dark-colored fruits and nuts, such as prunes, dates, raisins and walnuts, may also contribute to the blend. Light fruitcakes are generally made with granulated sugar or light corn syrup and light ingredients such as almonds, dried apricots, golden raisins, etc. Fruitcakes are baked slowly and, after cooling, usually covered in cheesecloth moistened with liquor or brandy and tightly wrapped in foil. Stored in this manner, they have tremendous staying power and, providing they are occasionally remoistened, can be kept for years.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.