by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez / Wednesday, December 5, 2012
(Peated) Whisk(e)y Nut Fruitcake
Uuuuhhh... Soooo... Yeah. That was about the extent of my whisky knowledge.
And then I took my very first ride in an airplane. Ever. It was over the Atlantic. I'm pretty much the luckiest girl ever because: #1. Aer Lingus Business Class is the bomb. And I am ruined for Coach from here on out (...several days later, I did take a short coach flight from Glasgow to Dublin. Ruined, ruined I tell you.). #2. Looking out over the patchwork quilt of green in every shade imaginable (that would be Ireland, arriving at Dublin) is one of the most beautiful sites in the universe.
I was about to embark on a journey of whiskey. And also of whisky. Because, while I was starting my Whiskey Distillery tour in Ireland, I was continuing it in Scotland. The Irish spell it "whiskey". The Scottish spell it "whisky". See there? I'd already added to my whisky repertoire, and my tour hadn't even officially begun.
But then, something happened. Something unexpected. As I raised another tasting glass of gold liquid to my lips, I smelled something. Other than the sweet notes of whiskey. It smelled smoky. It smelled like Christmas. And then I took a sip. It was Connemara, and it was my first experience with peated whisk(e)y. At first, I wasn't really sure what to think of it. I kept touching it to my lips... tracing my tongue slowly over the slick of smoky sweetness that it left. I knew immediately that I would be using this in a recipe. Or five.
I said as much to one of the girls on the trip with me. She whispered that it would be great in fruitcake. Fruitcake! Genius.
Little did I realize, that peated whiskies aren't the norm in Ireland. Peating is actually more characteristic of Scotch whiskies, as I would discover a couple of days later when I settled in to the island of Islay in Scotland. An island where the smell of peat smoke magically clings to every nook and cranny. Now, in short, peat is basically decayed vegetation. In it lies the Scottish equivalent of "terroir". In Scotland, there is moss, heather, grass, shrubs, and all other sorts of local vegetation that makes its way into this partially carbonized substance that is formed in marshes and bogs, as it forms in cold, wet, acidic areas.
The four distilleries that I toured while on Islay all had heavily peated whisky. The way they get that peat smoke to permeate the liquid is by spreading out the germinating barley on a large, perforated floor set over a kiln that is burning peat. They close the door on the room, and the smoke comes up through the floor and winds its way up, around, and through those grains of barley. The peated barley is then allowed to dry before moving on to the milling, mashing, fermenting, and distilling.
The result? A golden cake that is studded with bits of nuts and fruit with a moist, sticky layer of booze-soaked cake on the outside. A hint of peaty smoke infuses each glorious bite. Sigh. If I close my eyes, I'm back in Scotland. And maybe even Ireland (since that is where peat smoke and I were first introduced).
- ~6 c. mixed, dried fruit & candied citrus peel (golden raisins, purple raisins, cherries, cranberries, blueberries, apricots, pineapple, mango, lemon peel, orange peel, citron, etc.), larger pieces diced
- ¾ c. Peated Whisk(e)y + more for brushing
- 1 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature + more for greasing pans
- 1¾ c. granulated sugar
- ¼ c. light corn syrup or golden syrup
- ⅛ tsp. pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp. rose water
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3¾ c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. fine sea salt
- ½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 c. whole milk
- 2 c. roughly chopped (or whole, if smallish) nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, pinenuts, hazelnuts, etc.)
Welcome to day #3 of Christmas Week, a multi-blogger event co-hosted by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic and Jen of Juanita’s Cocina. Today’s theme for Christmas Week is “Christmas Cakes and Cupcakes”. Make sure you visit all the participating bloggers today to see what special dish they whipped up for you.
- Christmas Coconut Cake by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic
- Cranberry Coffee Cake by Jen of Juanita's Cocina
- Holly Topped White Cupcakes by Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Eggnog Pound Cake with Rum Glaze by Anuradha of Baker Street
- Christmas in the Tropics Cake by Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker
- Cranberry-Walnut Coffecake by Isabelle of Crumb
- Pumpkin Dream Cake by Erin of Dinners, Dishes and Desserts
- Christmas Red Velvet Mug Cake by Erin of The Spiffy Cookie
- Reindeer Cupcakes by Ramona of Curry and Comfort
- Whisk(e)y Nut Fruitcake by Heather of girlichef
- Tres Leches Cake by Cathy of The Dutch Baker's Daughter
- Monkey Bar Cupcakes by Chung-Ah of Damn Delicious
Michiana-based food, drink, and travel writer with a fondness for garlic, freshly baked bread, stinky cheese, single malt Scotch, and Mexican food—who believes that immersing herself in different cultures one bite at a time is the best path to enlightenment.