“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.
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.
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!
Did 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!
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.