The short analysis: too much liquor.
Here’s the play-by-play description of our New Year’s Day sampling of Aunt Chris’ Fruitcake. After 5 weeks, it was time to unveil the slumbering fruitcakes.
Carefully unwrapping layers of cheesecloth—utterly dripping with spice-scented Jim Beam (apologies to those who knew better)—and confronting the heavy brown loaves, I carefully made the first slice. The perfume of high-octane alcohol filled the kitchen.
Armed with cups of hot green tea, we took to the dining room table with a single slice of fruitcake, cut into two pieces. Dense with spices, figs, raisins, ginger, almonds, walnuts and many other items, each bite was overwhelming. Mainly it was difficult to detect individual flavors and textures, so riddled with weekly dousings of booze was each atom of this creation.
“I feel like an archaeologist,” my sweetie ventured, as he lifted a forkful of indeterminate brown substance to his mouth. Both of us had to admit it tasted as we thought it might, and as we thought it should. But it pretty much did us in. Just too acrid and alcoholic.
Perhaps with only a single dousing of better whisky, and maybe with something to sweeten the finished product, e.g. hard sauce, creme Anglaise, the experience would have been more enjoyable. We added a few scoops of good quality vanilla ice cream. It helped. But not enough.
All in all, I’m glad I embarked upon this culinary genuflection at the shrine of Christmas cooks throughout the centuries.
But I have a few new ideas for next year. And they do not involve Jim Beam.