Remember when everyone hated beets? Remember how you used to shudder at the thought of them, considered them a vile, purple turd that was yanked from the bowels of the earth? You denied them room on your plate. You looked at them and sneered.
Beets were primal. They were beneath you.
And then, one day, someone took a little olive oil and sea salt, roasted one, peeled it, mixed it up with some chevre and roasted garlic and you were all over them like popcorn chicken?
They were now delicious, you said. How did we not know? How could we have overlooked the purple majesty of beets for this whole time? And you still marvel about it every instance when you order a beet salad with frisee, pomegranate seeds, and a lonely poached egg for $15.
Sixty cents worth of produce that you gobble up and tell your server how delicious it was. Sixty cents. Fifteen dollars. A healthy serving of penance.
So we all admit we were wrong about beets, like beets didn't sleep with the whole football team as we were told; she was at home studying parabolas, reading Jane Eyre and crying herself to sleep every night. We get that now. Sorry. Sorry.
So I'm going to tell you something right now and I want you to listen.
Stop giving shit to fruitcake. I mean it. Fruitcake is awesome, and you have no right to bully, sneer, or condescend to it. You're the one who's wrong. Did beets teach you nothing?
The fault is not with the fruitcake. The fault is with whoever made it.
Don't you love maraschino cherries? Don't you love candied pineapple? Don't you love cake?
You said yes to all those things. I know you did. So stop picking on fruitcake. It is offering all of these things to you, yet you badmouth it, you mock it because the fruitcake you've been given was not made with love, it was not made with care, and was probably not made this year.
My mother makes a mean fruitcake. Later in life, it will probably end up costing me several toes and the vision in one eye. But she makes a fruitcake that is firm, yet tender, fruity with a wonderful crumb, and with a surprise in every bite. What will this bite be? A date? A cherry? Citron? Or ... chocolate chips?
That's right. My mother makes fruitcake with chocolate chips and if I had seed money and she could stand up for more than an hour, we'd open a business called "This Fruitcake Will Kick Your Ass."
But we possess neither of those things, so I shall simply pass this magic on to you. Now, you hold the power. You can decide if you have the courage to try it and eliminate all of your pre-existing fruitcake biases. Open your mind. It will change your mind about fruitcake. It will change your life (those toes and blindness I mentioned previously).
This fruitcake has a foundation of date bread. My mother used to find the package of Pillsbury Date Bread in stock almost everywhere, but now it's a little hard to locate. You can also use a nut bread mix, but honestly, I skip all that and do it all from basic ingredients.
Laurie Notaro's Mother's Fruitcake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3/4 cup boiling water
1 8-ounce package of dates
1.5 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter or canola oil
1 1/2 cups flour
Mix the dates with the water, salt, and baking soda.
Let stand 20 minutes, add butter or canola oil.
In a separate bowl, beat eggs, vanilla; Mix in sugar and flour. Mix the date mixture into this batter.
2 cups candied cherries
1 cup candied pineapple cut into pieces
2 cups raisins or currants
1 cup candied orange and lemon peels, or candied citron
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
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Grease and flour bottom and sides of a 12-cup fluted tube or Bundt pan.
Bake for 65 to 75 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool for 30 minutes, at least.
Then be prepared to slice it up, take a bite, and say you are so, so, so sorry.