Ugly Sweater

Orange Cardamom Fruitcake ft. Eggnog Frosting + Sugar Cookie Crust

Last cake of the year and it's a doozy. I had handfuls of ideas for holiday-themed cakes this year - which were unfortunately moved to the backburner when we decided to move to a new apartment in December. Nevertheless, these cake brainstorms (cakestorms?) are still simmering away on that backburner and like food from the crockpot, they will someday make their delicious slow-cooked appearances - save for this one which is right here, right now.

If there was going to be one cake this holiday season, it had to be the Ugly Sweater remix. Ugly Sweaters run rampant through the holiday party circuit and it's now socially acceptable for everyone to have one of these skeletons in their closet (otherwise it's off to the thrift store to purchase yours).

This recipe is a bit intense and time-consuming, but also combines everything that is beloved and stereotypical about holiday parties - sugar cookies, eggnog, ugly sweaters and the most undesirable dessert of them all - the fruitcake. For whatever reason, the fruitcake has become the butt of many door-stopping and cake-tossing jokes, but if you load it with the fruits (and booze) you enjoy, no one will dare think of re-gifting or lobbing this one anytime soon.

orange cardamom fruitcake
1 box spice cake mix
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp allspice
dash of salt
5 eggs
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) butter, softened
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. orange juice (or rum)
1 c. toasted walnuts + pecans, chopped
1 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. candied orange peel
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F and grease pans with butter or a non-stick spray like PAM. In a large bowl, sift cake mix, cinnamon, ground cardamom, allspice, and salt until well mixed. In another bowl, beat eggs, oil, orange juice (or rum), and butter until smooth. Fold in chopped nuts, cranberries, and candied orange peel. Slowly add in dry mixture, beating well after each addition - batter will be stiff.

Spoon batter into greased 8โ€ round pans. Place pan of water (about 2-3 cups) on the lowest oven rack (this will help keep the cake moist while baking) and place pan with batter on an upper rack. Bake for 2 hours or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for an hour in the pan, then remove cake and let cool on a cooling rack for another hour. Wrap cake in Saran wrap and aluminum and let refrigerate for 24 hours to let cake firm up.

eggnog frosting
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 c. butter or shortening*
1 tbsp bourbon
5-6 tbsp eggnog, prepared
dash of salt
Beat shortening, bourbon, eggnog, and salt on low speed until smooth. Slowly add in sugar and beat on high speed until frosting forms. Add more eggnog or bourbon if frosting is too thick.

sugar cookie crust
1 c. sugar cookie crumbs
butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease 8" pan (or same size as the fruitcake) with butter or non-stick spray. Crush sugar cookies into fine crumbs with a food processor or a rolling pin. Heat butter in microwave or stovetop until melted. In a small bowl, mix melted butter and cookie crumbs until sticky. Press cookie mixture into pan as a thin layer (ideally 1/2-3/4" thick) and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool completely, and carefully remove cookie crust (more like a disc) from pan.

8" round fruitcake
4-6 cups of eggnog frosting
8" cookie 'crust'
Fix cookie crust to plate or cakeboard with a dab of frosting. On top of cookie, outline and fill a ring of frosting (about 1/2-1" thick) and top with fruitcake. Crumbcoat this structure with a thin layer of frosting and refrigerate before decorating.