Waddaya mean, you don't like fruitcake?

OK, I won't try to convince you otherwise. There are enough wretched fruitcakes out there that I can totally see your point.

Me, I love fruitcake – my own homemade fruitcake, filled with apricots and pineapple, tart cherries and toasted pecans and sweet golden raisins. No citron. No candied peel. (Though yes to the candied red cherries; can't totally forsake tradition, you know!)

But the store-bought fruitcake that somehow landed under your tree? If I were you, unless it's one of those very, very, VERY good (read: expensive) fruitcakes, I'd take a pass. I'm not keen on preservatives, artificial flavoring, and the aforementioned peel and citron (to say nothing of candied GREEN cherries - ick).

At my house, the really bad fruitcakes go right outside to the birds. They've told me they LOVE citron and green cherries! And, whether it's birds or mice or nut-hungry squirrels, the cakes always seem to disappear, right down to the last crumb.

But the middle-of-the-road fruitcakes, the ones I can't quite get myself to share with my animal friends (or, even worse, re-gift) – what do I do with those?

I eat them. But not before performing a little black magic on them – in the form of dark chocolate. It makes total sense to dip mediocre fruitcake in chocolate to make it fairly enjoyable; but it's even better dipping top-quality fruitcake in dark chocolate. Trust me, this treatment raises fruitcake to new levels of decadence.

So, dig out that fruitcake; rustle up some chocolate. These two characters are about to make beautiful music together.

First, line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper, and spray the paper with non-stick vegetable oil spray.

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Cut your fruitcake into slices about 3/4" thick. You don't want to make them too thin, or they'll crumble when you dip them in the chocolate.

BTW, this is my favorite fruitcake recipe: Fruitcake Even Fruitcake Non-Lovers Will Love.

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Cut each slice into two or three pieces; or just leave the slices whole, if your fruitcake is a mini.

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Soften 2 cups (12 ounces) chopped dark chocolate (or chocolate chips) with 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, in a microwave (easiest) or in a saucepan set over low heat. Stir chocolate until it's totally melted and the mixture is smooth.

This amount of chocolate will coat about nine 3/4" slices of a 9" x 5" fruitcake (2/3 to 3/4 of the cake); adjust the amount of chips and oil accordingly, to match however much fruitcake you'd like to dip.

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Using a pair of tongs (least messy) or your fingers, gently grab a piece of fruitcake and dip it into the chocolate, coating it on all sides. Let any excess drip off (it's pretty thick, and won't drip much).

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Place the slices of cake on the prepared pan. Allow the dipped fruitcake to rest on the pan at room temperature until it sets enough for you to pick it up and transfer it to a rack, to set completely. It can take several hours for the chocolate to set; if you're in a hurry, refrigerate for an hour or so.

So, why do these fruitcakes look like they're coated with different types of chocolate?

They're not; but I experimented with using ganache (four parts chocolate to one part cream, by weight) in place of the chocolate/oil mixture.

The result: a too-thick, more opaque, softer coating than I was looking for. Try ganache if you like; I'd suggest a higher percentage of cream, though then you start to deal with the issue of it not setting... I prefer the chocolate/vegetable oil combination, which yields a reliably shiny, "snappy" coating.

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Hey, that almost looks like a Chunky, doesn't it? "Open wide..."

Please read, make, and review our recipe for Chocolate-Dipped Fruitcake.

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PJ Hamel
The Author

About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!