What’s the difference between light and dark fruitcake?

What’s the difference between light and dark fruitcake?

dark and light fruitcake slices         
Through the years working at Jane Parker, I have had the opportunity to communicate with many customers both by email and on the phone. I can honestly say that most customers have similar questions. Some of the most common ones are: “How long does a fruitcake last?”, “How do I store my fruitcake?” and “Can I freeze my fruitcake?” But by far, the most frequently asked question is: “What’s the difference between dark and light fruitcake?”


So, what makes a dark fruitcake dark ?

            While there are many different types of dark fruitcakes on the market, there are typically a few ingredients that give a fruitcake its dark color.

Currants in a Bowl

           Some fruitcakes are dark because of the types of fruits that are baked in them. Fruits like currants tend to be darker in color and can give fruitcakes their rich color. Fruitcakes that have alcohol baked into them can also become darker in color depending on the type of alcohol used during the baking process.


Dark Liquors

Many of the darker liquors used in fruitcakes including cognac, scotch, whiskey, and brandy can get their darker color from the type of aging process they go through when produced. Some liquors are aged for months to many years inside of oak barrels that have been charred (slightly burned) on the inside. In addition to getting their dark colors from the charred barrels, many liquors also have coloring added to them, further increasing their ability to make your fruitcake dark.

My fruitcake doesn’t have alcohol or currents in it. So why is it dark?

            If your fruitcake does not have the dark fruits like currants in it, and is not baked with a dark alcohol, there is one very popular ingredient that can give it its dark color, along with a distinctly robust flavor. That special ingredient? Molasses!

MolassesDid you know that molasses is actually a by product of the sugar making process? Sugar is made by extracting juice from the sugar cane or sugar beet plant. When sugar is made, sugar cane or sugar beets are crushed and their juice is extracted. The juice is then boiled down, which forms crystals that make sugar. The liquid that remains is molasses!  

Does molasses make my fruitcake taste sweeter because it is made from a sugar by product?

            If you have never tasted molasses, you might think it is sweet like sugar, because it is a by product of the sugar making process. It is actually a hard flavor to describe without actually tasting it. Molasses is a very dark, thick liquid which pours slowly, having a similar viscosity to honey or corn syrup. The taste, however is quite unique and different from the sweetness of sugar. Instead, molasses has more of a strong, robust, almost gingersnap like taste to it. Many times when we sample our fruitcakes at shows, customers think that the dark cakes made with molasses will taste sweeter than the light fruitcakes, but actually the opposite is true!

Jane Parker Dark Fruitcake Slices
We find that most people who are accustomed to the taste of molasses really like it when it is baked into fruitcake. A Jane Parker Dark fruitcake is made with raisins, cherries, pineapple, loads of pecans, and a good amount of molasses to give it a truly unique flavor profile.


 If you're not sure about buying an entire dark fruitcake, but you are still curious to give it a try, we offer a sample pack of individually wrapped dark fruitcake slices, so you can try it before you buy an entire cake. 

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Until next time fruitcake lovers!
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Best fruitcake ever! Unfortunately I though buying the slices would deter me from eating all of it immediately—wrong! I can’t get enough!

Barbara Adams

Thanks for your comment Carol! We actually do have a sampler pack available for our fruitcakes. You can purchase a small 4 pack of our individually wrapped slices and you will receive 1 slice of Bourbon & Rum, 1 Classic, 1 Dark, and 1 Chocolate. You can find the product page here: https://janeparker.com/products/fruitcake-slices-variety-pack-pack-of-4?pos=1&psq=variety&ss=e&v=1.0


I tr,r,ber all the Jane Parker pproducts at the A&P when I waas a child in the 30s 40s and 50s. I wish you would come up with a small trial pkg with a couple slices of each kind of fruicake so that we could sample the different flavors. I especially wish you would get the SPANISH BAR CAKE back in stock. It was also a special treat in our home even tho my Mom was an excellent baker. This would have been late 30s and early 40s and I think the loaf cake may have een less than 2.00. I would love to order a SPANISH BAR CAKE along with one of the fruitcakes. Respectfully,Carol Rendler

Carol Rendler

I remember a little spice cake with raisins that I always bought in a little gas station store across the street from my elementary school. It was my very favorite little snack cake. It wasn’t a two layer like the janeparker one you have published. It was an individual little cake (one layer). It could have been a janeparker, I don’t remember. Only that it was in the late 50’s and 60’s that I purchased it and I loved the spiciness and moist texture of that little cake. Too bad we don’t have them any more. I probably paid 10 or 15 cents for it. Oh and the dark fruitcake is by far the best to me. Just like my mom used to bake!


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