Chocolate fruitcake – a truly delicious oxymoron.


Oh, no…

NOT another post about FRUITCAKE!

Well, we figured you’d be out at the mall shopping today, and maybe we could slip this one past you.

Or not.

If you’ve managed to get past the word FRUITCAKE, read on. This chocolate chunk, pecan, cherry/cranberry version might just be the recipe that finally tickles your fruitcake fancy–

Chocolate Cherry-Berry Fruitcake.

Dried cherries on the left; dried cranberries on the right. While the cherries are wonderfully tasty, if your budget can’t handle them, definitely go with the cranberries. Or a combination, as I’m doing here.

Combine the dried cherries or dried cranberries with 1/2 cup brandy or rum, or 1/3 cup water.

Cover and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes (or bring to a simmer on the stovetop), stir, then set aside to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease the pans of your choice: two 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pans; five 7″ wooden bakers; six 7″ paper bake & give loaf pans (which is what I’ll be using here); one 12-cup bundt-style pan, or two 6-cup bundt-style pans.

Put the following in a large bowl:

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract, optional
2 tablespoons Cake Enhancer, optional

Beat until smooth.

Next, you’ll add 3 large eggs, one at a time, with the mixer going. Obviously, the mixer isn’t going here; do as I say, not as I did. Add 1 egg, beat to combine, stop and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the second egg, beat to combine, stop and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, etc.

The batter will lighten noticeably, both in texture and color.

Next, you’ll add 2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour and 3/4 cup milk, at room temperature. Start with about 1/3 of the flour…

…then half the milk, then another 1/3 of the flour, etc. Continue in that manner until both flour and milk have been completely added.

Your batter will be even lighter and thicker.

Next, the add-ins.

You’ll need 1 1/2 cups candied red cherries (l); 1 1/3 cups Raspberry Jammy Bits or Blueberry Jammy Bits or a combination (r); and 2 cups chocolate chips or chunks (center). I’m using Peter’s Burgundy Chunks here, because I like their balanced flavor – not too bitter, not too milky-sweet.

So, what are these Jammy Bits, anyway? Tasty bits made from a blend of raspberry (or blueberry)  juice, apple juice, sugar, and pectin. They hold their shape and soft, chewy texture when baked; and don’t “bleed” into batters. They’re also quite yummy.

Can you substitute some other dried fruit or nuts? Of course, be my guest.

Mix the fruit and chocolate with 2 1/2 cups diced pecans or walnuts.

Don’t like nuts, or can’t use them? Leave them out, or substitute more dried fruit.

Stir the dried cherries (and/or cranberries) and their liquid into the fruit/nut mixture.

Stir it all into the cake batter.

A stand mixer (or lots of arm strength) comes in very handy here!

Here are the bake and give pans I’m using. I’m trying an experiment: the ones on the top I’ve lightly greased; the ones on the bottom, no spray; we’ll see how they do, stick-wise.

If you’re using small pans, it helps to put them all on a larger baking sheet.

Spoon the batter into the pans, filling them about three-quarters full. A muffin scoop is a good tool for this job.

Pat the stiff batter gently with your wet fingers, to smooth it.

Bake the cakes for 50 to 53 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown all over, and a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean.

Larger cakes will bake longer amounts of time – up to 100 minutes for the full-size bundt cake.

Remove the cakes from the oven. If you’re removing them from the pan(s), wait about 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a rack. If you’ve baked them in paper pans, they can stay right in the pan.

Brush the cakes with 3/4 cup simple syrup, or the flavored syrup of your choice. Alternatively, brush with brandy or rum, or a combination of liquor and syrup.

How much syrup, how much liquor? Up to you; mix ’em together until they taste right to you.

This will seem like a lot of syrup/liquor, but just keep brushing; this is what keeps the cakes nice and moist until Christmas.

Decorate with candied cherries, if you like.

When completely cooled, wrap well and let rest at least 24 hours (or for up to 6 weeks or so, brushing with liquor or syrup weekly), before serving.

Oh, boy… Love those chunks of chocolate with the cranberries/cherries, don’t you?

And, remember the “grease” vs. “no grease” experiment with the pans? These slick bakeable paper gift pans don’t need to be greased; they peel away from the baked cake quite nicely all on their own.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Chocolate Cherry-Berry Fruitcake.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...


  1. HMB

    Saw the recipe in your catalog Wednesday and thought, “This looks tempting.” Now that I see it in all its glory here, I am definitely making it! Fruit and chocolate — I am so there! Made the cranberry fudge pie recently featured in the blog yesterday for Thanksgiving, and it was a huge hit. Thank you KAF and all you amazing blogging kitchen elves!!!!!

  2. Heidz

    Would this recipe work with fresh cranberries in place of dried?

    Fresh berries will bring a lot more moisture to the batter. Experiment, have fun! Frank @ KAF.

    They’d also be QUITE tart… Try using whole cranberries so they retain as much moisture as possible, rather than leaking into the batter. PJH

  3. biobaker

    What a great fruitcake riff! I’ve challenged a friend to a “Oh, really, you don’t like fruitcake, do you?” contest and am determined to have her saying “yum” by New Years. I’m now planning to make this — substituting dried apricots for the candied cherries for a cranberry-apricot version — and the KAF light golden fruitcake. She’s bound to like at least one of them!

    I find it actually helps a lot if you don’t call it fruitcake, too. Call it Apricot-Cherry Christmas Cake – she’ll rave! :) PJH

  4. Jean Allen

    I wonder about leaving the cakes in the bake and give pans. If you’re going to age them and brush them with rum or whatever for weeks, they won’t get the full benefit if it’s only brushed on top.

    Jean, the syrup seems to run down the sides just fine; the paper pans separate a bit from the cake. PJH

  5. Tonia

    I make a Chocolate Fruit cake where the cake is chocolate and the dried fruits (cranberries, apricots, golden raisins) are soaked in orange liquor and use pecans and chocolate chunks; once cake is baked wrap in cheesecloth soaked in orange liquor for about 6 weeks soaking weekly. Really good!

  6. mikest

    I’m not sure about this one PJ… I mean, where is the nasty dried fruits, the citron, pineapple, green cherries (green? really???)… Doesn’t seem like a fruitcake to me… Sounds too good! :-)

    Looks like I’ll be doing some extra KAF shopping this week… Getting ready for Chanukkah and tho this is non-traditional, sounds absolutely delicious! (And I’ve already got the BnG trays.)

  7. SH

    please tell me if the butter has to be at room temperature and do i need to beat untill its fluffy

    Butter doesn’t have to be at room temperature; beat until smooth, but it won’t get fluffy until you add the eggs. Then, yes, you should beat until light and fluffy. – PJH

  8. hopehare

    Here is a Fruitcake Hint: Call it Cranberry Raisin Nut cake, or Raisin Pecan Holiday cake, or Ginger Cranberry Nut cake–but NEVER fruitcake! That way, you won’t frighten your customers away. I have been very successful with this ploy. Also, baking the Never-Call-It-Fruitcake as tiny bite size cupcakes. I used a traditional recipe, but with my own choice of fruits. For instance, I fine those candied cherries particularly noxious, and never use them. Raisins, cranberries, candied ginger–all fine! And the idea above of adding chocolate pieces is one I have often thought of, but have never tried. Now, thanks to this blog, I will!

    At our bakery we used to call it fruitcake, but switched to Vermont Christmas Cake. Sales soared… go figure! I like the idea of fruitcake (whoops, Christmas cake) cupcakes, too… Thanks! PJH

  9. bardocz

    I wondered if you could possibly make these into bars? If so, what size pan(s) would you use and how long would you bake them?

    You could, but this is a big recipe. I’d start by lining a 9″ x 13″ pan with a sheet of parchment, greasing that, and filling it to a depth of 1 to 1 1/2″. After that take a look at how much batter you have left; if it’s about 3 cups, use an 8″ square pan for the remaining batter. If it’s closer to 4 or more, use a 9″ pan. Bake them for 35 to 40 minutes, then check with a tester in the center. If the tester comes out with raw batter on it, reset the timer for 5 minutes, then check again. Repeat as necessary. Susan at KAF.

  10. emsbutler

    I just made this and it is cooling on the counter. When you say to wrap and let rest … do you mean let it sit at room temp, or in the fridge? How do you know what can sit out, what needs refrigeration? This recipe does have milk in it. Wouldn’t that make the fruitcake spoil if at room temp for several weeks? I am unclear on the science of this.

    Good question. I believe the basic science at work here is that the amount of sugar keeps the cake from spoiling. Same way you can keep milk-confectioners’ sugar frosting at room temperature, and it’s just fine. Or cookies including milk, like whoopie pies. Hope this helps- PJH

  11. nora

    I’ve altered the recipe because I wanted to use Hisui (Red Sake) to make a fruitcake. This came out wonderfully. While my method of recording recipes isn’t really “scientific,” it works for me when I’m altering one for slightly different ingredients and for our tastes. After three experiments, here’s what I came up with…

    Hisui Cake

    8 oz dried cherries, coarsely chopped
    8 oz dried cranberries
    8 oz dried blueberries
    1 cup hisui (red sake)
    **Mix – microwave about 1.5 minutes, stir, let rest 15 minutes or so – repeat this step 3 or 4 times – set aside to thoroughly cool (plumping up dried fruit)

    10 oz candied cherries, coarsely chopped
    8 to 10 oz pistachios, roasted & salted, coarsely chopped
    2 cups chocolate chips
    **These are the rest of the mix-ins.

    **Before mixing up the cake batter, mix all of the mix-ins together – try to get as even distribution as possible

    **Preheat oven to 325 F while mixing up the cake batter

    3/4 c unsalted butter
    1.5 c sugar
    1.5 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp vanilla, or use more if you’d like
    **Cream all of these ingredients together

    3 large eggs
    **Add to creamed mixture one at a time, mixing throughly after each egg

    2.5 c plain unbleached flour
    1 c milk at room temperature
    **Alternate adding flour then milk to mixture, beating thoroughly each time – end with flour

    **Dump in roughly half of the solids, mix thoroughly using a large spoon

    ((Bake, NOTE baking time is dependent on the pans that you use – I used small give-away loaf pans. You can use regular sized loaf pans (2), a large bundt pan (1), 2 small bundt-style pans, or whatever you like (even large muffin pans). When a cake tester comes out clean, they’re done.
    **While cooling, poke holes (I use a very small knitting needle) and drizzle with more hisui or simple syrup (repeatedly, as much as you’d like)
    **When completely cool and you’re tired of drizzling, place in plastic bags or some other form of tightly sealed container, let age in refrigerator for 5 to 10 days (they keep a long time in the refrigerator)

    Wow, thanks SO much for sharing here – I definitely have to try this one… PJH


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