This post should come with a slew of warning labels, disclaimers, full disclosures, user agreements and paragraphs of legalese in fine print. A user agreement would require that any and all information related herein, good or bad, be disregarded and be considered useless if not dangerous and should not be tried at home. I have yet to consult an attorney so hopefully a confession will suffice: Very little of the events related in this post occurred as a result of culinary knowledge, experience or skills. In fact, anything that might remotely resemble legitimate information was pulled directly out of my arsenal of off-the-wall hare-brained ideas.
One final warning: Read on at the risk of disappointment.
This all started with a quest for different ways to use the peppers coming out of the garden. I had seen numerous mentions of “cowboy candy,” pickled and sweetened jalapeño slices. In the examples I ran across the jars of peppers were packed in liquid. I was interested in something more candy-like, you know, more like the candied fruit used in baked goods like fruitcake.
I played around with the idea by cooking pepper slices in a sauce pan with turbinado sugar without added water or vinegar. The moisture released from the cooking peppers was sufficient to create a syrup to glaze them.
I did this with both green jalapeño and red Fresno chili peppers. The peppers were removed from the syrup with a slotted spoon and drained further on a greased tray. Of course I saved the sweet/hot syrup.
Are these not as pretty as the candied fruit available during the holidays? There was no mistaking the clarion call to make a fruitcake using candied peppers in place of fruit.
Having never baked a fruitcake before I felt no constraint to follow any rules, not that I ever do. After browsing a number of recipes, they all seemed more involved than I was interested in tackling. I opted to go my own way and wing it. Most people don’t like fruitcake anyway, so if it doesn’t turn out well most people wouldn’t know the difference.
I wanted to use nuts in this cake and pecans were the obvious choice since we had recently gone pecan picking or, more accurately, pecan gathering since we picked them up off the ground and not from the trees. The pecan trees are just a few miles from our house on a farm that belongs to a physician at the medical group for whom Faye works. It had been a few years since we last took him up on his generous ongoing invitation.
It took only 15 or 20 minutes to gather 2 gallons of nuts.
I roughly chopped the nuts and lightly roasted them.
The ingredients for the cake were:
- agave nectar
- coconut rum,
- dark rum
- melted butter
- coconut oil
- kosher salt
- ground cloves
- candied chili peppers
- crystalized ginger
- self rising flour
- chili pepper syrup (for glazing)
I poured the batter into a loaf pan lined with greased parchment paper and baked it at the low temperature of 300ºF/149ºC for a full hour and 45 minutes.
While the loaf was still hot I glazed the top with some of the pepper syrup I had saved.
The following day I spread out some plastic wrap and cheesecloth, placed the fruitcake loaf on it upside-down and applied a mixture of coconut rum and dark rum to the bottom and sides using a spray bottle.
I then wrapped the cheesecloth around the loaf, sprayed it some more with the rum and wrapped it again with the plastic wrap.
Finally, I wrapped the entire thing in foil. I may unwrap it and apply more rum one or two more times before serving it at the end of the year.
It almost doesn’t seem right publishing this before the results are even known. This thing could end up tasting awful, in which case refer back to the cautionary notes at the beginning of the post.