I never understood all of the jokes about fruitcakes. I grew up with the dense, nutty fruitcake that arrived in the mail each year, cut into thin slivers that would last until Christmas. They are a special holiday treat and a wonderful alternative to all of the cookies around this time of year. But finding a recipe to start with is a challenge – I sorted through light cakes that resemble Italian panettones, cakes that take weeks of soaking in booze and cakes that uses dried fruit instead of candied. My goal was to make a version that was packed with nuts and fruit while still having that traditional boozy flavor from brandy. I’m not great about planning ahead, so the cake can’t require weeks to age. I never found the recipe that I was hoping for, so I made my own.