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Properly Stored, Fruitcake Lasts Four Months

The holidays are over, but I never quite caught up on all the requests for the season’s recipes.

So please clip and save these for future seasons!

Dear Laura: I visited a friend during the Christmas season. Her mother served us fruitcake, which typically I do not like. But this was made with dried fruits instead of candied fruits and was delicious.

Unfortunately, she was unwilling to share her recipe. I have looked and have not been able to find one. Can you help? I would love to be able to make this myself! - Susan, Spokane.

Dear Susan: This lighter Christmas cake is similar to the one you describe. Top it with blanched almonds before baking to create an attractive surface.

If you wish to add brandy after baking, pierce several times with a skewer and sprinkle with 3 to 4 tablespoons of brandy before covering.

Wrap with plastic and then with a layer of foil. This cake may be prepared ahead, wrapped and kept in a cool place for two to three weeks before serving. For longer storage, up to 4 months, store in a freezer.

Almond-Fruit Cake

1/2 cup chopped blanched almonds

1-1/4 cups currants

1-1/2 cups golden raisins

1-1/2 cups dark raisins

1/2 cup chopped mixed dried fruits (or fruit of choice such as apricots)

2 teaspoons orange juice

1 tablespoon grated orange peel (from 1 medium orange)

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (from 1 medium lemon)

1 cup butter or margarine

1-1/3 cups packed dark brown sugar

5 eggs

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup whole blanched almonds

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease a deep 8-inch round cake pan or springform pan. Line side and bottom with a double thickness of waxed paper; grease paper.

Combine chopped almonds, currants, raisins, dried fruit, orange juice, orange peel and lemon peel in a medium bowl; set aside.

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift flour and spice over egg mixture; fold in. Stir in fruit mixture until evenly distributed. Spoon mixture into prepared pan; smooth top. Arrange whole blanched almonds in circles over top of cake.

Bake 2 to 2-1/2 hours or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Shield cake with foil if almonds brown too quickly.

Cool in pan on a wire rack about 15 minutes. Remove from pan; remove paper. Cool completely on wire rack. Wrap cooled cake in plastic wrap; over-wrap in foil. Store in a cool, dry place up to three weeks, or freeze up to four months.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings.

Dear Laura: The people at Peerless-Sunpuft tell me you might be able to help locate a recipe for peanut brittle made with peanut butter that I have misplaced. They say you’ve published it before. Thank you. - Kathleen, Spokane.

Dear Kathleen: This is a favorite recipe from the Dorothy Dean era. Some people have questioned the amount of liquid but I’ve tested the recipe with success. It is essential to be familiar with the directions, to prepare the buttered cookie sheet and to measure all ingredients before starting. When the syrup has reached hard crack stage, you must be ready to move quickly. Stir in remaining ingredients and spread the syrup before it hardens. Use the larger amount of peanut butter if your brand is soft and creamy, less if your brand is thick and stiff.

Peanut Butter Brittle

2 cups sugar

1/3 cup water

1-1/2 cups light corn syrup

2 cups salted peanuts

2 to 2-1/2 cups peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Butter a large cookie sheet; set aside.

Combine sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Bring mixture to full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in corn syrup. Cook to hard crack stage, 300 degrees.

Meanwhile, mix peanuts, peanut butter and vanilla. When syrup reaches hard crack stage, remove from heat; immediately stir in peanut butter mixture and soda. Pour onto buttered cookie sheet; quickly spread with fork. Cool; break into pieces.

Yield: About 3 pounds creamy peanut brittle.

Dear Laura: Here is an addition to your advice regarding less-than-firm jelly: Leave it alone.

Years ago, when a batch of my jelly didn’t set immediately, I decided to keep it “as is” and use it as topping. I marked the labels as “soft.” I don’t know when it happened, but I have never taken a jar off the shelf that had not set. Hoping you find this tip useful. - Ruth, Spokane.


The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN, RECIPE, QUESTION & ANSWER - Cook’s notebook CREDIT = Laura Carnie The Spokesman-Review