Let's face it, nobody gets too excited when the words "fruit" and "cake" are used in the same breath. While there are some fruitcake recipes people will actually eat, they can be stodgy, bland, and somehow cloying all at once. We're not telling you to bake that kind of fruitcake this holiday season — in fact, we're not telling you to bake at all. If you haven't tried icebox fruitcake yet, it's time to remedy that situation. This no-bake fruitcake is easy to make, taking less than 30 minutes to assemble.
Because it's not baked or (perish the thought) wrapped in cheesecloth and bathed in alcohol for weeks, icebox fruitcake relies on spending several hours in the fridge for all the flavors to come together. Basically, it's a graham cracker-and-condensed milk cake speckled with delicious dried fruit and nuts. The use of condensed milk brings a lusciousness to the texture of this cake and will make you forget all about the brick-like Christmas fruitcakes of yore. The one drawback of icebox fruitcake is that, unlike its traditional counterpart, it can't survive nuclear warfare and therefore isn't among the most shippable Christmas gifts to send to friends and family. Instead, your loved ones will have to enjoy this cake at the holiday dinner table.
Read more: 11 Discontinued Chocolates We Miss The Most
History Of Fruitcakes
Fruitcake has been around for ages. Its origins go as far back as ancient Egypt and the Romans really got into it. Soldiers in ancient Rome were often sustained by barley breads fortified with a mead-like alcohol and fruit called satura. By the Middle Ages, religious authorities went and ruined the fun by banning what they considered to be too-indulgent fruitcake for Advent. That led to the creation of stollen — a Germanic concoction we'd recognize as fruitcake. It's the very thing that people now usually toss into the trash, or if you're in Colorado, throw around for sport.
Before the 1920s, refrigeration wasn't really a common household accommodation. As the icebox became more affordable, it naturally coincided with the popularity of chilled cakes and desserts. Many of these recipes are easy to make and only require a few ingredients. With the proliferation of refrigeration, people with minimal baking ability were now suddenly able to whip up a pretty impressive dessert for Sunday dinner. Naturally, once mid-century culinary sensibilities met modern refrigeration capabilities, the regular old fruitcake ended up with the icebox treatment.
Tradition Meets Innovation
The beauty of all fruitcakes is that they are subject to personal taste. If you don't like maraschino cherries, don't use them! It's still a fruitcake. Icebox fruitcake is usually held together with graham cracker crumble, condensed milk, and marshmallows. That's the glue that literally and figuratively holds it all together. After that, it's your call. Icebox fruitcake is a traditional Southern dessert. If you're making it for the first time and don't know where to start, you could give it a go with some Southern flare: Think pecans and dried apples or even dried persimmon if you're feeling adventurous.
Mark Twain once said, "The less there is to justify a tradition, the harder it is to get rid of it". Now, he probably wasn't talking about fruitcake, but this could just as well be the reason we as a society continue to make it. Tradition is best when coupled with innovation, so before you write fruitcake off entirely give its icebox version a shot. It just might become the new holiday custom you didn't know you needed.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.