Fruitcake At Its Finest

When that fruitcake lands on your doorstep this year, avoid the urge to head straight for the composter. Instead, take the requisite slice, then crumble, slice and bake this fruit-and-booze-laden present into these surprisingly tasty (We promise!) delights.

1. Eggnog-soaked French toast Cut 5 ¾-inch slices of fruitcake; set aside. Break 2 eggs into a wide, shallow bowl and beat lightly with a fork. Stir in ½ cup of eggnog and a pinch of nutmeg. Place fruitcake slices, one at a time, into the bowl, letting each sit for a few minutes to soak up the egg mixture. Turn to coat other side. Cook slices on butter-coated griddle over medium-low heat until bottom is browned and slightly crisp. Flip and brown other side. Top with whipped cream.

2. Parfait Substitute fruitcake for granola and layer in a bowl with yogurt and sliced peaches.

3. Stuffed pork loin roll-ups Combine ½ cup of crumbled fruitcake, 3 tablespoons of softened butter, 1½ tablespoons of Dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix well with your hands. Cut 1 pound of boneless pork loin into ½-inch steaks (about 6 steaks). Tenderize pork with a meat mallet, pounding until flat and nearly doubled in size. Spread stuffing atop steaks, roll up and secure with toothpicks. In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over high heat. Add pork roll-ups and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a baking dish and bake, covered, in a 350-degree oven until cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes. Deglaze the skillet with ¼ cup of dry red wine. Bring to a boil on medium heat, and reduce by half. Add ¾ cup heavy cream and simmer until thick. Serve roll-ups with cream sauce.

4. Assorted rum balls Dry toast 1 1/3 cups almonds or walnuts; let cool. In a food processor, pulse 1½ cups of chopped fruitcake and put in a bowl. Pulse cooled nuts and add to pulsed fruitcake, reserving 1/3 cup of pulsed nuts. Add to the bowl: 2 tablespoons each of confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder and honey. Stir in up to ¼ cup of dark rum. Mix to combine into a sticky dough. Place reserved nuts in a small bowl. In another small bowl, place 1/3 cup of cocoa powder. Roll the dough into balls. Dust half the balls in nuts, the other half in cocoa. Refrigerate until serving.

5. Affogato Veer from the classic Italian beverage that drowns ice cream in espresso by spooning ¾ cup of vanilla ice cream into a small serving glass, dousing it with 1½ ounces of apricot brandy and topping it with 1 tablespoon of crumbled fruitcake.

6. Cheesecake Cut fruitcake into 1/8-inch thick slices and arrange in a pie pan so the bottom and sides are covered. Press into the pan to create a crust. Bake crust in 350-degree oven for 5 minutes. Pour prepared plain cheesecake filling atop crust and bake (or refrigerate) accordingly. Chill prior to slicing.

7. Frozen fruitcake-wiches Slice fruitcake into 8 ¼-inch slices. Put 1 small scoop of softened vanilla ice cream onto a slice. Smooth ice cream with a spatula and top with another slice. Repeat with remaining slices. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.

8. Stuffed baked apples Halve 4 baking apples through the stem. Scoop out and discard core and seeds. Scoop out and reserve flesh, leaving ¼-inch thick shell. Brush centers of apples with lemon juice and place in a 11-by-7-inch baking dish. Finely chop apple flesh and set in a mixing bowl. Add to bowl: 1 cup of finely chopped fruitcake, 2 big splashes of lemon juice, a dash of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg. Combine well. Spoon 2 tablespoons of mixture into each apple. Pour 1 cup of water in bottom of the baking dish and bake, covered, in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer. Serve with apple glaze made by reducing reserved cooking juices or drizzle with heavy whipping cream.