26 August 2006

Review: Monastery Fruit Cake, Holy Cross Abbey

The Trappists must compare fruitcake recipes. This fruitcake bears a very close resemblance to that of Gethsemani Farms.

The two pound, four-ounce fruitcake cost $27.95 with shipping. Its looks are average, and the tin is also attractive but nothing too fancy.

Ingredients include cherries, pineapple, walnuts, raisins, dates, pecans, papaya, orange and lemon peels for nuts and fruit, as well as honey, brandy and “Sherry Wine.” There are some partially hydrogenated oils towards the end of the list, as well as some standard preservatives.

The cake itself smells of fruit. It is dense, with the batter serving to bind the ingredients together. One can definitely taste the alcohol, or perhaps I should say the memory of alcohol—the brandy and sherry make the taste of this cake more complex. In contrast to the Gethsemani cake, which uses red wine and whiskey, the brandy and sherry make the cake a bit sweeter. I also notice a more pronounced caramel, almost burnt flavor—perhaps the cake was a bit overcooked.

My mother and sister, both aficionados of the Gethsemani fruitcake, tried this one as well. They felt that this cake looked “more homemade” than other fruitcakes and that the fruit in it is cut more finely than the Gethsemani cake. After multiple slices (ergh) we still found ourselves returning to the Gethsemani cake; the batter seemed a bit lighter and had better flavor. That being said, my Mom asked if I could get her a catalog for this abbey; she might send this instead of Gethsemani this Christmas for a change of pace. In conclusion, this cake is a nice find with a similar, complex flavor to the Gethsemani cake. I am intrigued by another product the Abbey offers called “Fraters.” They are slices of their fruitcake dipped in dark chocolate. I think it sounds delicious. My sister and Mom both think it sounds like stuffing a turkey with a chicken—just too much. I’ll have to try those when cooler weather sets in.
The Our Lady of Holy Cross Abbey also sells creamed honey and truffles, neither of which I've tried, so can't speak for them.

03 August 2006

It's July, it's 97 degrees and humid in Chicago--What comes to mind?

. . . fruitcake, of course. The next foray into the wonderful world of, is with another abbey, the Holy Cross Abbey. So it's a holy fruitcake battle between two abbeys of the same order: Trappists. Who will win?