I love the idea of Christmas fruitcake—a dried fruit and nut-studded, often liqueur-soaked confection, the recipe for which is passed down from generation to generation. But my enthusiasm wanes when it comes to actually eating a hefty slice of it. Too often, fruitcake is leaden and cloyingly sweet. (And who, I ask you, actually likes glace cherries?) This year I got to thinking, what if I made a conserve that incorporated the best flavors of fruitcake, minus the density and excess sugar?
A bit of research turned up a recipe on the Pomona's Pectin website for fruitcake jam. It was a good place to start but I made a few significant alterations, using dried figs instead of dates, fresh pineapple rather than canned, and a little red wine instead of water. You could also use white wine, apple juice, or a mixture of liqueur (such as brandy or Cointreau) and water.
The fruit mixture is combined with chopped walnuts, a little honey, and a bit of pectin, and simmered until it thickens. If you process the jars in a hot water bath the conserve will keep for up to a year on the shelf. Otherwise, it will last in the refrigerator for several months. This recipe yields three cups, which is enough to fill three half-pint jars. Needless to say, they would make perfect stocking stuffers. Enjoy this conserve on Christmas morning, slathered over scones or dolloped over pancakes.
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About the Author: Lucy Baker is a food writer and the author of The Boozy Baker: 75 Recipes for Spirited Sweets. She is currently at work on a second book about homemade food gifts. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and dachshund.