18 November 2007

Review: Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery Fruitcake

There is nothing wrong with this fruitcake.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey is in Lafayette, Oregon. I paid $33.17 to receive 2 one-pound fruitcakes--but that included about $10 in postage. This was back about a month, and now when I see their site, I don't even see the option to purchase the one pound fruitcake. Instead, they have a three pound loaf, which comes in a "handsome container," something I missed. They must change their offering seasonally--this being gladsome fruitcake season and all.

The one-pound fruitcakes are really adorable:

Maybe a little perspective is needed here. Here's the box next to the horrible Hickory Farms fruitcake tin:

They're really tiny but would be perfect for giving. I imagine this is an easier size for the abbey to handle during non-fruitcake season, as well.

So here's the cake itself:

You'll have to excuse the shrink wrap on there; I had already cut into the other one-pound cake and didn't want to have two going at once. Isn't that a cute little size?

The ingredients panel on the box has to be one of the most intimidating and truthful lists ever. I felt like I was reading the small print on a contract, what with the parentheses and brackets- inside-of-parentheses. Every single ingredient, whether it be in the cake, the preserved fruits, or the enriched flour, is there for all to see. This is a full-disclosure list of ingredients. That being said, I didn't find anything too horrible besides the expected chemicals in the preserved fruit, margarine instead of butter, and artificial butter flavor to make up for it. The list also included a delightful little ingredient named "Sheri-rumco Flavor." I'm guessing this gives a . . . hmmmm . . . sherry- or rum-like flavor? In any case, I could find no evidence of this ingredient or the manufacturer of it anywhere, on all of the Internets. Go ahead, Google it. I'll wait.

Didn't find anything, did you? All right, all right, maybe you did, but not much, eh? Well, anyway, it's in this cake, along with brandy, which taken altogether give a pretty good, boozy flavor - not overly so, not underly so, just about right.

This isn't a cake for people who don't like chunks. The batter in this fruitcake serves as binder for good-sized chunks of pineapple, cherries, raisins, walnuts, and pecans. With honey and the aforementioned alcohols and alcohol flavors, one ends up with a really nice, balanced, good-tasting monastery fruitcake. I've been contentedly munching my way through a pound of it for the past couple weeks, and enjoying every slice.

I really like the small one-pound boxes. Although these may not be available year-round, for those of you who want to give just a small amount of fruitcake as a gift or hostess present(unappreciated you will be if you choose to foist a full-size fruitcake on the unappreciative masses), you may want to consider these cute little numbers.

UPDATE: Commenter JP (thanks) has also waxed poetic about this fruitcake, and pointed out that one-pounders are still available (and individually, as well) at chefshop.com. Chefshop also has a story up about the monastery.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Yep, the monks have sold out of their fruitcakes. So as JP indicated, the best place to get them is chefshop.com.

AND ANOTHER: I think we bought 'em all, folks. Looks like chefshop.com is out as well.Check the comments for any updates.


Anonymous said...

Have you ever heard of fruitcakes by WHO (women helping other women), a non-profit organization in North Carolina? They were mentioned on a Chowhound post. Their website has some very nice looking cakes: http://www.whowomen.com/

Isabelle said...

Hi Anonymous, thanks for the tip. I might be done this year but I've added it to my list for next.

Anonymous said...

So . . . if there's nothing wrong with this cake, how does it compare with Gethsemani? Or Holy Cross?

Anonymous said...

Your site was recommended by someone on eGullet in a topic on online fruitcakes. I was looking at your ratings, but I'm wondering your overall criteria for a "good" fruitcake?

For example:
Do you prefer light or dark?
More or less cake than fruit and nuts?
More fruit than nuts, or more nuts than fruit?
A lot or a little alcohol?

etc. etc.

Isabelle said...

Prasantrin, thanks for the questions/comments. I've found that there are a lot of different fruitcakes out there, that might appeal to different tastes. This is a great subject for another post, so stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, whilst on the subject of monastery fruitcakes, how would you compare/contrast this Guadalupe one with others?

Janet said...

This is absolutely the BEST fruitcake ever! I've blogged about it twice now. Also you can still get the one pound cakes at chefshop.com. They also have a three-pound option. YIKES!

Anonymous said...

I don't know how Our Lady of Guadalupe fruitcake compares with Gethsamani or Holy Cross but I think I can safely say that the Our Lady of Guadalupe fruitcake is very dark and extremely dense as in...there isn't very much "cake" in the fruitcake. I think that's what Isabelle means when she says "the batter in this fruitcake serves as binder..."

Another thing about the Our Lady of Guadalupe fruitcake. The alcohol is introduced into the cake by dipping the baked cake into 120 proof brandy and letting it absorb the alcohol. The thing is, the cake is so darn dense that it really doesn't absorb as much alcohol as perhaps I'd like. I almost wish the monks would resort to a little "fruitcake doping" ala the Assumption Abbey fruitcake, ha-ha.

Anonymous said...

One more comment: I just went to the Our Lady of Guadalupe website and they are sold out of fruitcakes until Spring 2008. It's not even Thanksgiving yet and they're sold out???? That's unusual. Maybe they've distributed them to third parties like chefshop.com ????
I guess interested parties will have to take jp's advice and buy them from www.chefshop.com

Anonymous said...

This is a holiday tradition for my family from just north in Washington State. I grew up eating these and never understood fruitcake jokes . . .You can also go to Made in Oregon's website to purchase.

Isabelle said...

Thanks, Raincityrd. My sister tells me you can also buy them at Norm Thompson. So I can see why they're sold out at their website!

Anonymous said...

The is stuff is pretty hard to find . . . which of course means I HAD to get some. The monastery is out of it until spring, and even chefshop is out of it. I finally found an on-line monastery shop that carries ALL of these monastery fruitcakes, and they had this in stock. I am looking forward to trying it when it arrives in a few days.

Anonymous said...

Did you tell your readers your brother belongs to a monastery? The standard full disclosure business seems applicable here.

Isabelle said...

Yup, the full disclosure was previously mentioned in the Gethsemani article. He's got NOTHING to do with fruitcakes--he's not of that order!

Anonymous said...

Hi, thanks for making my favorite fruitcake resource. I just thought I'd add a tip for this fruitcake - add powdered sugar.
By itself, it isn't my favorite. However, I've found that a sprinkling of sweetness balances out the heaviness and brings out some of the best flavors.

Gregory Lee said...

If you ordered Trappist Abbey fruitcakes before from the Trappist Bakery, you may have gotten a circular recently for a new product: Tropical Dessert Cake. They are the same 1lb size as the regular fruitcakes, have a lighter cake binder, and contain "papaya, mango, pineapple, almonds and macadamia nuts". "Flavored with rum and aged to perfection" (from the box). I just had my third slice, and I think it's good. It is just what you would expect from its description.

Fruitcake Lover Also! said...

I found that mine was almost tasting overbaked--too dry. I didn't pick up any of the hints of brandy. It had, to me, an almost burnt taste to it, but I do not believe it was actually burnt. Perhaps it stayed in the oven too long. One other thing that I will make sure to make a note of if I order again is inquire if there is a way that I don't have to sign for the package. FedEx almost took it back because I was not at home, and they required an adult to sign for the fruitcake!

Anonymous said...

Found Sheri-rumco flavoring on Google. Here's one site to buy it:

Gregory Lee said...

The 3lb version is available from Amazon for $36.45, and with "Prime", there is no additional shipping charge. That is good for me, since often shipping charges to Hawaii are steep. It's called "Trappist Abbey Monastery Fruitcake 3lb".

I've bought this twice before, but that was at least 3 years ago (got the Gethsemani fruitcake for 2 years), so though I recall that I liked it, I can't actually remember specifically what it was like. Only one of the 13 user reviews on Amazon's product page is unfavorable ("dry and bitter").

Amazon says they will ship it in two days from the day I ordered.