23 November 2014

Review: Neiman-Marcus Traditional Fruitcake

I'd had the Neiman Marcus Traditional Fruitcake on my list of cakes to review for some time now--I mean, it's Neiman Marcus. But often it would be sold out or unavailable. I managed to find it, available but backordered, at the end of October, and so ordered the 2 pound cake for $32.32, delivery included (nice!). They had promised the cake by November 21 at the latest, but it turns out I got it quite a bit earlier than that. As you know I was wrapped up in my own fruitcake making so didn't get around to trying it until just recently.

So here we go. Here's the tin:

Yup, that's an alligator texture on the label. This has to be the most fashion-forward fruitcake I've tried. That big sticky line marring the sticker came with the cake; that would have been pretty upsetting if I was buying this to give but I'm not so it's not a big deal (and knowing Neiman-Marcus I'm sure they would send me another one if it had been).

Here's the cake itself:

Pretty--there's a bit of candied orange on top in additional to the standard cherries and pecans, which adds a sort of "foody" vibe to the cake. The ingredients themselves are fairly typical for a mass-produced fruitcake (which is the category I think I'm going to put this in)--with a surprise:

Cocoa. There's cocoa in the cake, something I don't believe I've ever seen unless the cake was tryng to be chocolately). The fruits: pineapple, cherries, oranges, dates, raisins. The nuts? Walnuts and pecans both. There is both rum and brandy in this cake, which you can definitely taste--I'm sure one was for soaking the fruit, the other for soaking the cake and/or in the batter. There's also honey in the mix--not sure if I can smell or taste it specifically but props to them for including it, I'm sure it adds to the flavor. There is shortening, including partially hydrogenated, in the mix, which isn't fabulous--I'd prefer butter. There are various preservatives, caramel color, and food colorings at the end of the list that don't thrill me--I'm guessing the colorings are from the fruit, but caramel coloring? Is this necessary?

Here's a photo of a slice:

The taste is sweet and pretty darn boozy, which is nice--we don't often see a boozy mass-produced. There are big chunks of moist fruit, no problem there--this cake is not dry. The flavor is a bit more complex than just sweet, there's slight bitterness from the orange peel and walnuts and definitely a caramel or dark fruitcake flavor. The cocoa does not add a "Hey--there's chocolate in here!" flavor, but adds to the overall dark spicy effect.

I think I've mentioned this in previous posts, but it's interesting how much my opinion is influenced by how hungry I am. "Well okay," you're thinking, "she's supposed to be a reviewer and she's telling me she's not 100% unbiased?" Yes, that's what I'm saying, but to my credit at least I'm self-aware enough to notice my bias. The first time I tried this was as a "breakfast dessert" after I'd eaten my breakfast. At that time I thought "meh." This last time I ate it AS my breakfast. I also let it warm up just the tiniest bit, which allows the flavors to deepen and expand a bit (like fine wine--I let my fruitcake "breath"). The second time around, this cake tasted much better--still perhaps not as fresh as a homemade fruitcake, but not quite as just straight-up sweet and sweet as the first time I tried it.
My conclusion on this cake? It's OK. At $32.32 plus shipping for 2 pounds, it's not a bad deal, the ingredients are not horrible, and it's certainly one of the prettier fruitcakes I've ordered from a large company. I think that the mass-produced fruitcakes have a new winner.

[NOTE: as of this writing the fruitcake is sold out; it obviously has a following!]

1 comment:

Mike WB said...

I guess I wasn't hungry enough.

One of the most cloying fruitcakes I've ever tasted.
The worst-of-the-worst.

Thankfully, having optimistically ordered three, I had two to give away (accomplished) and the crows-possums got the remainder of the one I unfortunately opened.