1pound pitted prunes
1 pound dark raisins
1/2 pound pitted dates
1 pound dried currants
1 pound dried cherries
8 ounces glacé cherries
4 ounces mixed candied citrus peel
3 cups dark rum, plus more as needed
1 1/2 cups cherry brandy (may substitute Manischewitz Concord grape wine), plus extra for grinding fruit
4 ounces blanched, slivered or sliced almonds
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for the pans
1 pound dark brown sugar
10 large eggs
Finely grated zest of 2 limes
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Angostura bitters
1 pound flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Combine the prunes, raisins, dates, currants, both kinds of cherries, the candied citrus peel, 2 cups of the rum and all the brandy in a large container with a tight-fitting lid. Let sit at room temperature for at least 2 days and up to 1 year. Shake or stir the mixture occasionally.
When ready to bake, combine the macerated fruit mixture with its liquid and the almonds in a blender or food processor and process in batches, using extra brandy to loosen. Grind to a coarse paste, leaving centimeter-size chunks of some of the fruit intact for texture.
Pour the granulated sugar into a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the sugar has melted and caramelized until almost black; it will smoke a bit and it's much darker than you've caramelized sugar before. Turn off the heat, then carefully add the boiling water (furious steam here), stirring to incorporate. It may stiffen up before you add some of the caramelized sugar to the batter, just return the pot to a burner on low heat, which will loosen it up again.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Use butter to grease three 9-inch or four 8-inch pans, then line the bottom of each with a double layer of parchment paper.