Eye of Newt
It was the night of the new moon, the perfect time to begin her work.
The witch bounded up the steps of her home, an almost wicked smile on her lips, and all the necessary ingredients in her bag. She couldn’t wait to work her magic and present her intended with a gift that she was certain would make him love her for life. Well, it would seal the deal, anyway.
She prepared her space carefully, wiping everything down, and starting the fire with the reverence she brought to all tasks she’d set her heart to. Each bit of spice, each little herb was set carefully out in its own ceramic container. Every necessary component at the ready for the perfect moment to add it to the pot.
She murmured the words written on the old, stained, reverently passed-down piece of paper in front of her as she set to each step in her unfamiliar but promising task. This was her first time attempting this concoction, although the women in her family had sworn by it for generations.
It wasn’t exactly like other things she’d let bubble in a pot in her little apartment for the purposes of enchantment, but the currants it called for were a step up from eye of newt, she supposed. And her little home was infused with the smells of it, exotic and familiar, warm and inviting. It told the tale of pleasures yet to come.
From simmering pot, she gave it one last reverent stir and tipped it into the pan to set in her oven, a little ring of seductive perfection.
When it was done curing and setting she tool it out and set it on an iron ring on her counter. “Now,” she smiled, “I’ll just infuse you with most powerful spirits.”
Her task accomplished, she laughed to herself. “I believe I’ll infuse myself too!” and she tipped the bottle into a waiting glass.
A whole month her creation waited. Infused each night of the waxing moon with more of the spirits that would make it great, make it perfect, make it last. Finally, on the eve of the Solstice, the moon full and round above her, she knocked on he beloved’s door, her work wrapped in festive silver paper and tied with a red and white bow.
He invited her in, grinning, thrilled that she had made it, and eager to share her holiday with her, as she had promised to join he and his family for Christmas in a few days.
She led him by the hand into his kitchen and set his gift on the counter. He opened it and though he was smiling, he raised a skeptical eyebrow at the strange looking lumpy contents of the beautifully wrapped box.
“Is this some kind of weird witch thing?” he asked, laughter in his voice.
“It’s my grandmother’s fruitcake recipe. It’s the first time I’ve ever made it,” she answered. “I thought it would be nice to share for dessert tonight. And we could take some slices to your folks this weekend. It’ll last for months,” she beamed.
“I mean, you know because this is … Yule?” he asked, wanting to get it right.
“Ummhmm,” she nodded, encouraging him.
“I meant is it, like, magic?”
She laughed and moved to cut them each a slice. “Well, if how buzzed you’re going to get from a little taste of it is any indication, then probably.”
He took the proffered bite, eyes rolling in pleasure. “Yeah, this is definitely witchcraft, of the very best kind.”
– End –
You may think fruitcake is some plastic day-glo fake fruit franken-cake, but let us assure you that, properly prepared, real fruitcake can be magic.
Here is our recipe for our favorite form of edible holiday cheer.
Real Magic Fruit Cake
4 Cups Dried Fruit (We like a blend of golden raisins, currants, cranberries, and cherries, but you do you)
1 Tbs Orange Zest + 1 Tsp Lemon Zest (Fresh – don’t be lazy)
½ Cup Candied Ginger (chopped fine)
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and cover with golden rum. Stir it. Let it sit at least overnight, and up to three days.
1 Cup Apple Cider (soft – don’t worry, there’s plenty of booze here)
1 Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
2 Sticks Unsalted Butter
1 Tbs Cinnamon
¼ Tsp allspice
1 ½ Tsp Ground Ginger
½ Tsp Ground Clove
In a small sauce pan, combine the fruit and rum mixture with the cider, sugar, butter, and spices and simmer over low-medium heat for about ten minutes, until it begins to really thicken. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before the next step.
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour (Cake flour doesn’t have enough body to hold up to this)
1 ½ Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Baking Powder
½ to 1 Cup Your Favorite Baking Nuts (We like pecans, but if you prefer walnuts or something, go for it)
2 Large Eggs (Room temperature)
Heat your oven to 325˚F. Grease and flour the pan of your choosing (you can use a 9 or 10-inch loaf pan, but we like a fluted bundt pan for this).
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir them to make sure they are evenly distributed.
In a larger bowl, pour your fruit mixture, stir in your eggs and nuts. Then add your dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Don’t go crazy making it look pretty. It won’t, so just don’t beat it up trying to make it.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until set. Depending on the pan, this will take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. When a toothpick inserted in the center (or thick part, if you’re smart and are using a bundt pan), remove it from the oven and move on to the next step.
1 Bottle VSOP Brandy (Domestic is fine)
As soon as you set that beautiful spell down on the counter, open the brandy and pour some directly on the steaming cake. Don’t be afraid to soak it a little.
Let it cool in the pan for about ten minutes, then turn it out into a tin or onto a cake board, depending on your preference.
Douse it again.
For the next month or so (if you want to do this right – if you don’t a week will suffice), keep the cake loosely covered and check it every other day or so. If it starts to feel dry at all, give it a little drink. You know, of the brandy you totally saved for the cake. Right?
Enjoy. But don’t drive afterward. A little slice will do you, we promise.
This is delicious with cream cheese, boursin, mascarpone, or any other sweet creamy dairy confection you can think of. You could make it vegan by substituting coconut oil for the butter and serve it with coconut cream if you wanted to. We’ve also made it gluten free before, but if you do that be careful turning it out.
This cake will keep for months, especially if you’re mindful of it getting dry and give it a sip every once in a while. We’ve started this one on Thanksgiving, eaten it over the winter holidays, and still had some when the spring equinox comes around.
Make this. Thank us later.