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A Secret Hidden in a Historical Nichelini Family Recipe Revealed

By: Doug Patterson
4th Generation Nichelini

The Very Best Fruit Cake

“Rich in Tradition & Taste”

Her full name was Josephine Delaphine Nichelini. Born in 1894, she was the eldest Nichelini girl out of 8 girls and 4 boys. She married a man of Scottish and French descent named Arnott Macon Patterson. She was also my grandmother. Arnott loved fruitcake. And in our family everyone knew that Josephine made “the very best fruit cake” in the land. Maybe that was how she won his heart. Anyway, I can personally attest that it was exceptional. She traditionally made it at Christmas time. Unfortunately for most everyone else, but great for my grandfather and me, was that at least three-fourths of our family did not really like fruitcake of any kind whatsoever. They would politely accept the gift and maybe take a bite or two when the plate was passed around. Then, secretly, they would later give the gift to me. Her secret ingredient was that she added some rum - maybe even more than in the recipe. I loved that fruit cake.

Josephine’s Fruit Cake

3 to 8 oz. fruit cake mix, (chopped)*
2 cups of all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup honey
½ cup butter, room temperature
5 large eggs (well beaten in separate bowl)
8 oz. raisins
8 oz. pitted dates (chopped)
12 oz. coarsely chopped walnuts
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
½ cup sherry

* a good brand is Paradise Extra Fancy Fruit Cake Mix or a mix of glazed fruit of your choice (cherries, pineapple, orange peel, lemon peel.)

• Lightly butter and flour a 1 lb. loaf pan. Set aside.
• Preheat oven to 275°F.
• Toss candied fruit mix with ½ cup flour in a small bowl.
• In a separate bowl, cream the butter, sugar and honey. Stir in eggs. Beat until smooth and set aside.
• In a separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients (1½ cups of flour, raisins, dates, walnuts, spices, salt, and baking powder). Add the fruit mixture alternately with sherry to the bowl with the butter, sugar and eggs, ¼ cup at a time. Mix to blend.
• Pour the batter into a 1 lb loaf pan. Bake at 275° F for 2 to 2½ hours, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
• Enjoy the one fruit cake that even non-fruitcake lovers love (smack!).

[The secret revealed: Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then brush on 2 tablespoons of dark rum.]

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